The idea of the blog consists of the reconstruction of one triangular or slave voyage using the authentic archive documents. The voyage can be followed from day to day. The “pivotal characters” of 252 years ago “report” the events on board and sometimes ashore, through the records they have left behind.
The following people will “speak”:
- The First Mate, who kept a daily ship’s log.
- The Captain, who wrote letters to the directors of the MCC in Middelburg throughout the voyage.
- The Captain and the First Mate as merchants. Both were responsible for keeping the trade book up to date.
- The Surgeon, who kept a record of every patient (both Africans and crew members) and their prescriptions.
- The senior officers, sometimes including the boatswain, united in the Ship’s Council. The council took important decisions together, and/or put together important statements of events.
- The crew members, who signed a variety of documents, such as IOU’s or letters of resignation. Should they come to die during the voyage, their possessions were auctioned off on board.
- The overseas correspondents of the MCC, who corresponded with the directors of the MCC in Middelburg.
- The directors of the MCC in Middelburg. The decisions from the board meetings were recorded in minutes. The directors also kept up a correspondence with the overseas correspondents.
A few others also enter the picture:
- Inhabitants of the coastal regions of West-Africa. Taxes were paid to the local rulers, and Africans, ivory and provisions were bought from local WIC-officials
- Inhabitants of Guyana. Inhabitants of the colonies of Berbice, Essequibo and Demerary bought up Africans, provided services or sold provisions to the captain.
- Dutch and foreign captains. The names of captains and their ship were often noted down by the captain or first mate.
This blog has also made use of archive documents concerning the equipage, the purchase of cargo goods and the return cargo. These transactions include all persons involved with the slave trade: employees of the MCC at the docks, warehouses and ropewalks, textile and gunpowder traders, the innkeeper in whose inn the muster roll was put together, and the tower watchman, who announced the ship’s return.
No voices of enslaved Africans
The archive of the MCC consists of a financial administration, meaning that events and decisions were recorded from a financial point of view. The voices of the enslaved Africans can therefore not be heard. Still, glimpses of the captured Africans can be caught. In this case, this is mostly through the surgeon’s journal. The surgeon wrote a description of each patient, including information concerning their health and overall circumstances.