Slave Punishments

Zamba Zembola, the son of a king of a small community in the Congo, was born in about 1780. When he was in his early twenties he was invited by a Captain Winton, to accompany him to America on his slave ship. After arriving in America, he was kidnapped and sold as a slave.

Zamba worked on a plantation for over forty years before he managed to achieve his freedom. His autobiography, The Life and Adventures of Zamba, an African King, was published in 1847.

Primary Sources

(1) Zamba Zembola, The Life and Adventures of Zamba and African Slave (1847)

Captain Winton told me in the course of our voyage, that, in the early part of his experience in the slave-trade, he had seen slaves where they were literally packed on the top of each other; and consequently, from ill air, confinement, and scanty or unwholesome provision, disease was generated to such an extent that in several cases he had known only one-half survive to the end of the voyage; and these, as he termed it, in a very unmarketable condition. He found, therefore, that, by allowing them what he called sufficient room and good provisions, with kind treatment, his speculations turned out much better in regard to the amount of dollars received; and that was all he cared for.

After being about 15 days out to sea a heavy squall struck the ship. The poor slaves below, altogether unprepared for such an occurrence, were mostly thrown to the side, where they lay heaped on the top of each other; their fetters rendered many of them helpless, and before they could be arranged in their proper places, and relived from their pressure on each other, it was found that 15 of them were smothered or crushed to death. The captain seemed considerably vexed; but the only grievance to him was the sudden loss of some five or six thousand dollars.