‘Separation of families’

This print, published in 1787, shows individuals on the plantations being forcibly separated from family or friends. Repeated separation from the time of capture in Africa to being sold off to fetch a good price, or to be disposed of in old age, added to the despair and isolation felt by enslaved Africans. It also maximized profits and helped plantation owners control and oppress their workers.

This mental or emotional torment compounded the suffering of the enslaved, who had to endure harsh physical conditions in which they lived and worked. The whips in the picture were always carried as a means of oppression and control, and were regularly used on those slaves who stepped out of line.

© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK

Accession reference: National Maritime Museum, ZBA2515