Monday, May 28, 2012

Hannibal (ship)

The Hannibal was an English slaver (slave ship) of the Atlantic slave trade. The wooden sailing ship was 450 tons and mounted thirty-six guns, which it was frequently forced to use; seven hundred people could be forced into its hold at one time. Many slavers rigged shelves in the middle called a "slave deck," so that individuals could not even sit upright during the entire voyage. The owners of the ship were paid ?10.50 for every slave, but only for those brought to the "New World" alive. As a result, the slaves were fed regularly twice a day a meal of corn meal and beans, given a litre of water per day, and given exercise for an hour every evening to keep them fit. Despite these efforts, an average 20% of the slaves died from disease, physical injuries, or suicide on the Hannibal's voyages. The ship is most remembered for its disastrous voyage of 1694. Captain Thomas Phillips commanded the Hannibal. He was a British captain and a member of the Royal African Company. To prevent the slaves from running away he was advised to cut off the arms and legs of some to terrify the rest as was the practice of many other slave ship captains, but he refused to do something so drastic. The Voyage of 1694 This voyage began as any other slave trade in 1694. The ship arrived in Whydah, an African port located in modern day Benin, and purchased 692 slaves, about one-third of them women. Upon boarding the ship the slaves were handcuffed to one another in pairs of two by their wrists and legs, and branded with a capital "H" to claim the slaves for the Hannibal. The ship reached the New World with only 372 slaves remaining. Three hundred and twenty slaves died or were dumped overboard by the crew during the voyage. It is postulated that some slaves may have been thrown overboard so that their insurance value could be collected, but it appears the largest killer was an outbreak of dysentery. Others may have jumped overboard out of fear. Phillips is reputed as stating that twelve slaves "willfully drowned themselves" during the trip and that several others persistently refused food starving themselves to death, "for it is their Belief that when they die they return to their own Country and Friends again."

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