Slavery and the Making of America
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The Slave Experience: Responses to Enslavement
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Original Documents Responses to Enslavement

Captain Thomas Phillips' journal of the voyage of the HANNIBAL
Cited in Dorothy Schneider & Carl J. Schneider, eds. SLAVERY IN AMERICA: FROM COLONIAL TIMES TO THE CIVIL WAR. (New York: Facts on File, 2000).
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Document Description
On slave ships, some Africans turned to extreme measures in hopes of escaping imminent captivity. Phillips describes slaves who committed suicide by drowning and self-starvation rather than be delivered into slavery.

The negroes are so willful and loth to leave their own country, that they have often leap'd out of the canoos, boat and ship, into the sea, and kept under water till they were drowned, to avoid being taken up and saved by our boats ... We have likewise seen divers of them eaten by the sharks, of which a prodigious number kept about the ships in this place, and I have been told will follow hence to Barbadoes, for the dead negroes are thrown over-board in the passage ... We had about 12 negroes did willfully drown themselves, and others starv'd themselves to death, for 'tis their belief that when they die they return home to their own country and friends again ...

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