Breaking

Slave shackle being removed by a British sailor, 1907


This photo shows a sailor removing a manacle from a newly freed slave. This photograph is part of a small collection donated by Samuel Chidwick to the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth. His father, Able Seaman Joseph Chidwick, who was born in 1881, was aboard HMS Sphinx.

The Africans shown in the photographs fled in a canoe from a slave-trading village on the coast, upon hearing that a Royal Navy ship was in the area.

In its report dated 15 October 1907, Commander Litchfield wrote that the ship found 'six fugitives' on a cruise off the Batinah coast of Oman between 10 and 14 October. One of the fugitives had been hounded for three years and ran away with his leg iron still on.

Samuel Chidwick said: "The photographs were taken by my father, who was serving on the HMS Sphinx during an armed patrol off the Zanzibar and Mozambique coast in about 1907. He captured some of the slaves and the particular slaves that are in the pictures, While he was on guard, a dhow (sailing ship) set off that night and all the slaves were chained together.

He raised the alarm and they boarded them and broke the chains. He then interrogated them and sent a contingent of marines to try to track down the slave traders.

He captured two of them and I believe they were of Arabic origin. My father thought that the slave trade was a disgusting thing that was going on, slaves were treated very badly, so when they got slaves they didn't give them a very good time".



The Royal Navy, which then controlled the world's seas, established the West Africa Squadron in 1808 to patrol the coast of West Africa, and between 1808 and 1860 they seized about 1,600 slave ships and captured 150,000 Africans. freed.

Most of the captured ships were headed for South America. South America was always the first stop after Africa. This was mostly due to Brazil being the largest importer of slaves, and the trade winds and the inability of a ship to go directly to North America.

Brazil was the largest importer of African slaves during the slave trade era and perhaps the worst in terms of the treatment of its slaves. Nonetheless, more than a million new slaves were forcibly deported to Brazil between 1808 and 1888, despite laws banning their importation.

The House of Commons passed a bill in 1805 making it illegal for any British subject to capture and transport slaves, but the House of Lords blocked the measure and did not come into force until March 25, 1807.

The 1807 Act of Congress technically ended the transcontinental slave trade in the United States but the ban was not widely enforced and many slave ships that survived the blockade were destined for the southern United States. Internal trade continued until the end of the Civil War.

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