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Captive Passage: The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Making of the Americas

Captive Passage
has been made
possible in part by:
National Endowment for the Humanities
Recognition of
additional sponsors
for this exhibition
can be found by
clicking on

Middle PassageSailing and StormsStowageIllness and Death
Ships and CrewsProvisionsEnduring the Middle PassageResistance


 Stabbed One of the Negroes
Stabbed One of the Negroes

...two of my wearied countrymen who were chained together, preferring death to such a life of misery, somehow made through the nettings and jumped into the sea...

Ankle and Wrist Shackles Used Onboard Slave Ship Aurore
Revolt on a Slave Ship
Death of Capt. Ferrer, the Captain of the Amistad, July, 1839
Death of Capt. Ferrer, the Captain of the Amistad, July, 1839

Olaudah Equiano, from The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings... London, 1789

Africans resisted their loss of freedom by individual acts and by organized revolts. Many committed suicide, usually by jumping overboard. Others staged usually unsuccessful revolts, resulting in brutal punishment. Captains and crews feared revolt, and this fear added to the atmosphere of violence and suspicion on board. Crewmembers searched the holds for weapons daily and severely punished even minor acts of resistance.