The Slave Ship Fredensborg
The best documented account to date of a working slave ship, fully illustrated.
"Svalesen has turned up quite an amazing depth of sources on this ship! They allow him to reconstruct the tenor of the voyage in engaging, vivid detail, even to develop aspects of some of the personalities on board. It reads, when the sources are rich enough to bring it alive in these terms, like a dramatic narrative of the sea.... the illustrations are often new, mostly well integrated into the text.... They are a significant attraction in the published book...." —Joseph C. Miller, University of Virginia
[second quote still to come]
The Slave Ship Fredensborg presents the richly illustrated story of a typical slave ship and its last voyage on the triangular trade between Denmark–Norway, the Gold Coast in Africa, and the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix. The wreck of the Fredensborg was discovered off the coast of Norway in 1974, more than 200 years after it sank. By examining the wreckage and surviving written sources (including the captain’s log, which was recovered from the sea), Leif Svalesen, diver and author, has reconstructed the Fredensborg’s journey in fascinating detail. He recreates, day-by-day, what life was like for captain, crew, and the newly enslaved. Svalesen documents the ship’s provisioning—from the number of nails to
kegs of water and wine—the litany of illness, the number and type of armaments, the treatment of the slaves, the intricacies of trade, and the goods carried on the return voyage to Denmark. The triangular trade is made specific and personal through records and artifacts salvaged from the Fredensborg, the most meticulously documented slave vessel yet discovered.
The book includes an account of Svalesen’s discovery of the wreck, which led to his desire to learn the Fredensborg’s full story and to retrace its final voyage. The Slave Ship Fredensborg is a marvelous account of history and discovery for scholar and general reader alike.
From the ship’s log upon arrival at St. Croix:
123 male slaves Remaining on the ship for the time being:
19 boy slaves 5 male slaves for work on board
73 female and girl slaves 7 ditto who are sick
4 freight slaves 8 ditto female slaves
1 ditto boy slave
1 freight slave
219 slaves in all 22 slaves in all
A total of 18 male slaves
and 6 female slaves died 24 slaves
Brought ashore 215 slaves
and for Mr. Reimers 4 slaves
Remaining on board 22 slaves
A total of 265 assorted slaves
which is the number we received at the Danish Fort Christiansborg
Leif Svalesen grew up on Tromoya Island off the coast of Arendal in Norway, an area known for its rich shipping traditions. He is a member of the Norwegian Maritime Museum's Council and a Board member of UNESCO's International Scientific Committee for the Slave Routes Project.
240 pages, over 200 illustrations