On This Day, the Slave Ship Entered the Middle Passage

Thursday, September 28, 2017
Location of La Concorde on September 28, 1717.
Courtney Page, QAR Lab Manager

On September 28, 1717*, La Concorde left Ouidah on the west coast of Africa with 516 enslaved men, women, and children, and 14 ounces of gold dust. While at port, the crew would have traded the goods they brought from Europe for enslaved peoples, and gathered supplies and prepared the ship for the trans-Atlantic journey. While we do not have any records pertaining to the activities of the crew of La Concorde before this final voyage, preparations often included modifications to the ship itself. Generally, a wall with iron spikes and holes for gunfire was built between the front living quarters of the crew and the rest of the ship to reduce the risk of an uprising. In the lower deck, a second floor at half-height was installed to increase the ship’s capacity for African captives. The hold would be filled with enough food and water for the crew and the Africans for the passage and a kitchen built on the main deck. Most French voyages across the Atlantic took two to three months, and La Concorde was no different.

*The original French documents state the date as October 9. However, the French calendar in the 18th century differed from the English calendar by 11 days, and the date used here corresponds to the 18th century English calendar for consistency.

-Deposition of François Ernaud, “27 avril 1718. La Concorde de Nantes prise et pillée par les forbans.” Archives départmentales de Loire-Atlantique, Nantes B 4578 f° 56V& s.
-Ducoin, Jacques. Barbe-Noire et le négrier La Concorde. Grenoble, France: Éditions Glénat, 2010.
-European trading posts at Savi [Ouidah], 1720s. [Jean Baptiste Labat, Voyage du Chevalier des Marchais en Guinée … fait en 1725, 1726, & 1727 (Amsterdam, 1731), vol. 2 , between pp. 40-41. In Thomas Astley (ed.), A New General Collection of Voyages and Travels (London, 1745–47), vol. 3, plate 9, facing p. 64], from http://slaveryandremembrance.org/articles/article/?id=A0120
Thornton, John. Atlas maritimus or, the sea-atlas. London: John Thornton, 1700. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2010592349/.