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IntroductionDepartureMiddle PassageArrivalAbolitionLegacy

Captive Passage: The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Making of the AmericasThe Emancipation Proclamation
The Thirteenth Amendment

Captive Passage
has been made
possible in part by:
National Endowment for the Humanities
Recognition of
additional sponsors
for this exhibition
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AbolitionOutlawing the Trade: Fighting Illegal Slave Trading
A Growing Hunger for FreedomThe Struggle for Emancipation: Africans Becoming American

The Struggle for Emancipation: Africans Becoming Americans

Enslaved and oppressed Africans in the Americas sought freedom in a variety of ways. The patriots who had won their independence from Britain proved an inspiration to some slaves in North America. In the southern United States, some became "passengers" on the Underground Railroad in an attempt to escape from slave holding states to free states or even to Canada. While some attempted to gain their freedom peacefully, men such as Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner organized violent uprisings against whites in their regions. Some decided to leave the Americas all together and made their way to the colony of free Africans in Africa - Sierra Leone.

In every country and colony in which slavery was practiced, the campaign to end slavery was long and difficult. It took over half a century for abolition to sweep across Europe and the Americas, from the British colonies in 1834 to Brazil in 1888.

Unfortunately, slave-like conditions persisted throughout the Americas long after emancipation. For all but a few, the goal of achieving true political, economic, and social equality would prove to be an ongoing struggle.