“The Travailes of an English Man”: William Wright. Source: I.H. [Job Hortop]. “The Statutes at Large”; Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature in the Year 1619, William Waller Hening, New York: R & W & G. Bartow, 1823.
Job Hortop kept a log of his travels as a British sailor which includes his observation of how British Admiral John Hawkins operated its fleet of slave ships; this selection is from a voyage in 1567. The selection from the first session of the legislature from Virginia is a collection of laws passed to regulate the treatment of slaves by their owners and recognized that slaves needed some form of protection and rights.
Sailing during the fifteen hundreds was no easy task. Despite the confined spaces on the ships and the constant struggle to find supplies, food, and most importantly fresh water; one of the most routine challenges they face was the constant battling amongst other ships. To the victor goes the spoils would best sum these naval battles up. Once a battle was over, the victor took it all including: crew, cargo, and the very ship itself. Not only did they take provisions from the new countries, the natives were taken for slave trading as well. However, slave trading was already abundant amongst the tribes themselves before the slave ships started arriving. The kings themselves would drive the negroes into the sea themselves to drown them even thousands at a time.
In the midst of the 1600’s, laws began to rise in order to create better treatment for the slaves. They were by all means still slaves and none of these laws necessarily benefitted them from a freedom standpoint, but more so applied the right of the servants to not serve under such harsh treatments. If a servant was to report his or her master, then they must have done so through another commissioner and if they found the servant’s complaint just then it was ordered upon the master or mistress...
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