- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (29 July 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300125550
- ISBN-13: 978-0300125559
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 3.2 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Zong: A Massacre, the Law and the End of Slavery Hardcover – 29 Jul 2011
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About the Author
James Walvin is professor emeritus, University of York, and a world authority on transatlantic slavery. Among his many previous books are Black Ivory: Slavery in the British Empire and The Trader, The Owner, The Slave: Parallel Lives in the Age of Slavery. He lives in York, UK.
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Top customer reviews
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The owners claimed from the insurers for loss of cargo(the slaves) and won the case initially being awarded £30 per slave however at a subsequent trialthe owners lost as it was shown there was no lack of water and the actions of the crew constituted bad management.
The trials raised massive publicity and greatly enhanced the activities of abolitionists and to abolition of slavery in 1807.
This well written and researched book also details English law and slavery. Excellent illustrations.
A book to be highly recommended.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The Zong was a slave ship that during a 1781 voyage threw over the side, to their grisly deaths, several hundred slaves, ostensibly because a shortage of water necessitated such action if the remaining Africans and the crew were to survive. To place this event in context, the author offers a very interesting and concise discussion of the transatlantic slave trade. This is the first bonus of the book. The immense profitability of this trade, largely out of Liverpool, was based on first obtaining slaves in Africa, then heading to the Caribbean or America, delivering and selling "the cargo," and then loading up with a valuable commodity (often sugar) for the return voyage. The numbers of Africans thus transported was enormous, exceeding a million. The conditions under which the trade was conducted were horrible for everyone involved; for example, by 1807, 20,000 slave ship crew members had died.
The truly bizarre dimension of the Zong story is that the owners of the Zong demanded that their insurers make good their losses under their insurance policies. The insurers fought this request in court where there was no consideration of the evil of these murders, but rather the issue was whether "the cargo's" loss had been appropriately "jettisoned" within the provisions of the the insurance contracts. Eventually, the shipowners were held to be entitled to 30 pounds payment for each of 130 Africans.
The case was appealed and heard before Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, engaged in a life-long project of upgrading English common law by injecting into it significant concepts from commercial practice. Facing Mansfield was Granville Sharp who had dedicated his life to fighting slavery. Mansfield did not want to upset the commercial practice of the slave trade, even though in the Somerset case (where Sharp was also involved) he had outlawed slavery in England and Wales in 1772. The case was sent back for retrial--but it never happened so that, in effect, the initial decision controlled.
What effect this litigation had on the eventual termination of the British transatlantic slave trade (in 1807)is the final focus of the book. Basically, this horrible event did open the eyes of the British public to the grisly nature of the slave trade and helped eventually to pave the way for its termination. But that development took a very long time. So, there are many bonuses in this fine book and it is well worth the attention of anyone interested in the slave trade and the role of the law in implementing and, eventually, destroying it.