Princess Madia, Enslaved African from the Congo, 1860

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Image Reference

Harper's Weekly (June 2, 1860), p. 345. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Princess Madia was a captive on the Wildfire, an American slave ship captured by the U.S. Navy in 1860 near Cuba. Originally from the Congo, Madia was called "princess" by the Wildfire's crew because of her dignified personal appearance and the deference that she received from some of the captured slaves (see also, image E027). The original 1860 photograph, by an unidentified photographer, from which the Harper's image was taken, is published in Ellen Dugan, ed., Picturing the South, 1860 to the Present (San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 1996, p.30) with a companion image showing Madia, nude from the waist up and displaying her "country marks" (i.e., scarification patterns) in her abdominal area. The photographs are held by a private collector, but neither is identified in the Dugan volume.  (We are grateful to Carla Williams for bringing these photographs and publication to our attention.)