The Zong Massacre was an execution of African slaves in the Atlantic Ocean, on a voyage bound for the Carribbean Island. The massacre happened by forcefully throwing the black men onto the sea. It resulted in the death of 133 slaves.
In 1500, Portuguese merchants started exporting Africans to Brazil. The African slaves were suppose to go and work on the Portuguese Sugar plantations. Sugar had huge demand in Europe.
Later in 1530s, Britain and Spain joined in the trade and more Africans were forcefully shipped onto the new world. The slaves were largely drawn from, Angola, Congo, Nigeria and Sierra Leon.
By 1840, More than 39,000 ships carrying not less than 400 slaves had made their way to the west. Among the 39,000 ships, the British owned ‘ZONG’ ship stood out.
The ship set off in Ghana, on 18, August 1781. On board, were 442 slaves, twice the number the ship was designed to safely transport. By the third week of November, drinking water had run low. But this problem was not immediately identified untill after a navigational error meant that the ship had sailed 300 Miles past it’s destination of Jamaica.
With thirst and the spread of diseases in the ship growing high, death of some of the slaves was imminent. At that time, the value of a sick or weak slave was so low. The crew threw enslaved Africans onto the Occean, so that they can make a claim to their insurer, for the loss of the enslaved people.
After the ship arrived in Jamaica a claim was made. The insurer refused to pay, and the battle was taken to the courts ( Gregson Vs Gilbert) (1783). The hearing led by Lord chief justice ‘The earl of Manifest’, ruled against the syndicate owner.
The case sparked a debate across the Britain and America. It led to the emergence of abolishionist like John Newton and Yorkshire Parliamentarian William Wilberforce. In 1, January 1808, Britain abolished slavery.
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