Deck of Slave Ship, Jamaica, 19th cent.


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Image Reference
LCP-31

Source
Mayne Reid, The maroon; or, planter life in Jamaica (New York, 1864), facing title page. (Copy in Library Company of Philadelphia)

Comments
Caption reads: "Of this mixture [gunpowder, lemon-juice, and palm oil,] the unresisting captive received a coating, which by the hand of another sailor, was rubbed into the skin, and then polished with a 'danby-brush,' until the sable epidermis glistened like a newly-blacked boot" (p. 28). A novel written many years after the end of the slave trade, the scene depicted here shows the deck of a slave ship as it anchors in Jamaica, when the slaves were being prepared for sale. They were brought up on the top deck. "Each individual, as he came up the hatchway, was rudely seized by a sailor, who stood by with a soft brush in his hand and a pail at his feet; the latter containing a black composition of gunpowder, lemon-juice, and palm-oil. Of this mixture the unresisting captive received a coating which, by the hand of another sailor, was rubbed in the skin, and polished with a danby-brush" until the sable epidermis glistened like a newly-blacked boot. . . . . It was not the first time those unfeeling men had assisted at the spectacle of a slaver's cargo being made ready for market" (p. 28).