Publisher: University of Virginia Special Collections
Slave Ship Diagram
A schematic drawing of the slave ship Brooks (also known as the Brookes) portrays the inhumane living conditions that enslaved Africans endured during the Middle Passage. This fold-out engraving was published in the 1808 edition of The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-trade by the British Parliament, a two-volume work published by the English activist Thomas Clarkson. A leading opponent of the international slave trade, he wrote that this "famous print of the plan and section of a slave ship … was designed to give the spectator an idea of the sufferings of the Africans in the Middle Passage." The human cargo are shown lying down with no space between one another, the men segregated from the women. The drawing depicts 482 enslaved men, women, and children, the number permitted by law for a ship of that size; in reality, the Brooks sometimes carried as many as 740 slaves.