Cover image for The two princes of Calabar : an eighteenth-century Atlantic odyssey


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DA125.N4 S66 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This is a rare glimpse into the 18th century Atlantic World and slave trade from an African perspective. It brings us into the trading communities along the coast of Africa and follows the regular movement of goods, people and ideas across and around the Atlantic.

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Booklist Review

While researching a topic in early Methodism, Sparks discovered letters by former slaves to Charles Wesley. The writers were brothers from an elite family in a slave-trading community on the Bight of Biafra. During a 1767 conflict with another slave-trading clan--an altercation abetted by English slave merchants--the two were seized by a slave-ship captain and launched on a seven-year struggle to get home. They were owned by masters in Dominica and Virginia before succeeding in being taken to England, where their cause was taken up by Methodists, to whose faith they converted. Eventually, freed by English law, they went home, though only upon their second attempt, the first being aborted in a wreck in the Cape Verde Islands. There is every reason to think that they afterwards participated again in the slave trade. Often in dire straits, they prevailed because they were already literate in English and familiar with English manners. Seamlessly weaving great chunks of eighteenth-century documentation into the narrative, Sparks makes the brothers' saga an absorbing true-life adventure. --Ray Olson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Table of Contents

1 ""A Very Bloody Transaction"": Old Calabar and the Massacre of 1767
2 ""Nothing But Sivellety and Fare Trade"": Old Calabar and the Impact of the Slave Trade on an African Society
3 ""This Deplorable Condition"": The Robin Johns' Enslavement in British America
4 ""We Were Free People"": Bristol, the English Courts, and the Question of Slavery
5 ""A Very Blessed Time"": The Robin Johns and English Methodism
6 ""We Go Home to Old Calabar"": The Robin Johns' Legacy in Old Calabar and England