SLAVE SHIPS. The earliest ships used to transport human beings from Africa to enslavement in North America were converted merchantmen; later, special vessels were built, equipped with air scuttles, ports, and open gratings. The first American ship to carry enslaved Africans was the seventy-nine-foot long Desire, sailing out of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1638. The Hannibal, an English slaver of 1693, was 450 tons and mounted thirty-six guns, which it was frequently forced to use; seven hundred human beings could be forced into its hold. Many slavers rigged shelves in the middle called a "slave deck," leaving only twenty inches of headroom, so that individuals were unable even to sit upright during the entire voyage.
When the slave trade was made illegal in 1808, traders turned to fast ships, largely topsail schooners or brigs, to outrun the British frigates guarding the African coast. With such vessels every consideration was sacrificed for speed, and the accommodations for the enslaved people were even worse than on earlier vessels. The last American slaver was probably the Huntress of New York, which landed a cargo of enslaved men and women in Cuba in 1864.
Cottman, Michael H. The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie: An African-American's Spiritual Journey to Uncover a Sunken Slave Ship's Past. New York: Harmony Books, 1999.
Dow, George Francis. Slave Ships and Slaving. New York: Dover Publications, 1970.
Daniel Mannix / a. r.
See also Middle Passage ; Schooner ; and vol. 9: Voyages of the Slaver St. John .
"Slave Ships." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 13, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/slave-ships
"Slave Ships." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved December 13, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/slave-ships
slave ship • n. hist. a ship transporting slaves, esp. one carrying slaves from Africa.
"slave ship." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 13, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/slave-ship
"slave ship." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved December 13, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/slave-ship