TEXT

Stowage on the Slave Ship Brookes, 1788

Per Library of Congress: Illustration showing deck plans and cross sections of the British slaving ship, Brookes.
Author
British Abolitionists
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concepts 2 and 4.

ship stowage
Source
This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/98504459/ and https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Slaveshipposter.jpg.
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    How does the diagram portray the white captors’ view of the enslaved people?
    Answer
    The diagram illustrates how they saw the enslaved people as cargo more than human beings.
  2. Question
    The diagram depicts 400 enslaved people on the Brookes, but states in the upper right hand corner that it was built to fit 454 enslaved people, though it had “at one time carried as many as 609 slaves.” What does it communicate is the most important thing to the merchants?
    Answer
    The most important thing is packing as many people into the ship as possible, so that they can increase their profits.
  3. Question
    How does this illustrate the enslaved people’s experiences on the Middle Passage?
    Answer
    It shows how tightly packed into the ship they were; the limited amount of room they had to move around; separation by gender implies the division of families/loved ones.
  4. Question
    What does it not illustrate concerning the enslaved people’s experiences on the Middle Passage?
    Answer
    It doesn’t indicate the other struggles including illness, dehydration, lack of cleanliness (e.g. human waste), treatment by the captors, etc.
  5. Question
    Some abolitionists used this image to illustrate the cruelties of slavery. Why would they have chosen this image?
    Answer
    Answers may vary: Depicting the enslaved people in a diagram such as this shows, in part, some of the experiences of the Middle Passage—as opposed to just a written description.
  6. Question
    Though abolitionists used this image to illustrate the cruelties of slavery, some scholars today criticize the image as dehumanizing the enslaved people. (Teacher note: Among other criticisms, it has also been criticized for not challenging its intended audience to consider their complicity in the slave trade.) How does the image dehumanize the enslaved people?
    Answer
    Answers may vary: Depicting the enslaved people as cargo without anything about the actual experience on such a slaving ship doesn’t show the enslaved people’s perspectives, experiences or their suffering.
Reveal Answers
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