Hugh Crow was the captain of a slave-trading vessel which made one of the last legal journeys across the Atlantic with its `human cargo'. This is a highly engaging, rare, first-hand account written by a staunch defender of the slave trade. Crow depicts himself as an enlightened practitioner of the trade, paying close attention to the welfare of his `negroes', which he equates with financial success in his business.
Crow's memoirs bring to life the everyday aspects of the slave trade and describe the harsh practicalities of life at sea, where on average a fifth of the crew did not survive the crossing. The narrative is peppered with social comment on the propriety of the slave trade and conditions in West Africa and the Caribbean. At the same time, Crow expresses a warm attachment towards individual slaves which was sometimes reciprocated, most remarkably in a song composed by the slaves about him which is reproduced in this book.
The introduction chronicles Hugh Crow's life, his entry into the slave trade and his rise as one of the foremost slave captains of his day. Quoting extensively from original sources, it sets him in the context of the eighteenth-century mercantile community which fought hard to defend itself against the humanitarian campaign to abolish the slave trade. He emerges as a colourful if flawed figure from this highly practical, personal, and eye-opening look at the slave trade.
Introduction Chapter I Author's early predilection for a seafaring life... Chapter II Voyage to Kingston... Chapter III Author's prejudices against the African trade... Chapter IV Author captured by a French ship, and carried to L'Orient... Chapter V Author meets his brother... Chapter VI Voyage to Bonny in 1801... Chapter VII Author practises the men at the guns on board the Mary... Chapter IX Handsome letter to the author from the underwriters... Chapter X Reflections on African discoveries...