The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade

The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade

The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade

The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade

Synopsis

Using the private journal of First Lieutenant Robert Durand, Robert Harms recreates the voyage of the French slave ship, 'The Diligent'. This book challenges popular beliefs about the slave trade - a highly organized, Atlantic wide system.

Excerpt

In the Spring of 1984 an old man approached the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. He had in his possession a French mariner's journal—over 250 years old—that contained 113 pages of text and drawings on fifty-eight vellum leaves, each bearing a crowned coat of arms watermark. At the top of the first page was a Latin inscription: "De Majorem Dei Glorium Virginis q: Maria" (To the greater glory of God and the Virgin Mary). Then the text switched from Latin to French. "With the help of God, we are undertaking to go from Vannes, whence we were outfitted, to the coast of Guinea in the ship Diligent belonging to the brothers Billy and Mr. La Croix, our outfitters, and from thence to Martinique to sell our blacks and make our return to Vannes."

The journal went on to describe the ship and the crew: "Our ship is built on a keel fifty-seven feet long, twenty-one feet wide, and of 140 tons burden, drawing twelve and a half feet of water at the rear when fully loaded. We are armed with eight four-pound cannons, fifty-five muskets, eighteen pistols, twenty swords, and two swivel guns, all in excellent condition."

"For first captain we have the sieur Mary, and for second captain we have sieur Valteau. The second lieutenant is sieur Thomas Laragon, the surgeon is . . .

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