March 31


March 31, 1797 Olaudah Equiano, seaman, merchant, explorer, and abolitionist, died. Equiano was born around 1745 in present day it would be Southern Nigeria, and in his autobiography (1789) he declares at the age of 10 being kidnapped by kinsmen and sold into slavery in the English colony of Virginia. A Quaker owned him and allowed Equiano to pay for his freedom, he purpsed his freedom in 1766. By this time Equiano had learned to read, write, and had trained in seamanship and traveled extensively. His profits allowed him to earn his freedom by his early twenties and return to Britain where he believed he was free of the risk of future enslavement. In 1789, Equiano’s autobiography, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African,” was published and it rapidly went through several editions. It was the first influential slave autobiography and fueled a growing anti-slavery movement in Great Britain. The book vividly demonstrated the humanity of Africans as well as the inhumanity of slavery and helped the movement for the Slave Trade Act 1807.


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