In conceptualizing my final project based on the Atlantic Slave Trade I am relying this week on sources from Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. I chose Gilder Lehrman because they have free, accessible, wide-ranging resources for teacher of U.S. history, particularly for high school courses. I am also using Gilder Lehrman because they have detailed “information architecture” for primary and secondary sources. I will need to check for guidelines on reuse, but my hope is to mine resources from their organization in order to create consistency in terms of format, metadata, and scholarship.
Here is a sample of some of their full-text scanned and transcribed primary sources: https://www.gilderlehrman.org/featured-primary-sources
I selected this text by Robert Livingston because it presents a different view of slavery and slaveholders who sold and purchased kidnapped African men and women. In addition to having a scanned high resolution for students to transcribe, there is also a full transcript available on the site. This would challenge students to dissect the writing before analyzing the language itself and the text’s meaning in its day versus present-day.
As Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History states, “Livingston’s callous description demonstrates the slave-trade investor’s emphasis on the financial loss, rather than the human cost.” This is highlighted in the following excerpt:
We have thank God had the good fortune of haveing one of our Guinea Sloops come in, tho after along passage of 79 days in which time they buryed 37 Slaves & Since 3 more & 2 more likely to die which is an accident not to be helped, and which if had not happend we Should have made a Golden Voyage but as it is there will not be much left I fear, unless the other Sloop meets with better Luck
Robert Livingston to Petrus Dewitt, July 29, 1749. (The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, GLC03107.04449)
Additional resource: Myths and Misconceptions on the Slave Trade
Below find a media examples that relate to one of my final project ideas. My idea is to create a cross-curricular project with AP Language. As a topic I have selected the slave trade. I know this is not the most original topic, but because it is a major part of American history and so often discussed in our cultural discourse, I wanted to create a project that complicated the issue/topic. I want to approach this project with a focus on a change-over-time in terms of the language used to discuss, defend, or protest against the slave trade from 1619 through 1860. I chose these two years because 1619 was the year of the first Africans to arrive in what became the United States (13 original colonies/states), and 1860 was 1) the election of Lincoln but before the start of the war and 2) the year of the last known kidnapped African to be sold in North America after passage across the Atlantic. (His name was Cudjoe Lewis, 1840-1935.)
As for the reasons I chose the following image and video file comes from my desire to mix different types of sources in this broader change-over-time topic. Both of these sources will inspire students to think about the slave trade from multiple perspectives. Also the lecture features a host of primary sources images. These sources combine presented expertise (Philip Morgan) with a primary source for analysis. My goal is to challenge students to think about the issue of slavery and the slave trade and to apply historical empathy as Wineburg described.
Philip Morgan: The African Slave Trade, 1500-1800 from The Gilder Lehrman Institute on Vimeo.
“Decks of a Slave Ship” from The History of Slavery and the Slave Trade, Ancient and Modern, compiled by William O. Blake (Columbus OH: J. & H. Miller, 1861). (The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, GLC00267.038)