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Amistad's OrphansAn Atlantic Story of Children, Slavery, and Smuggling$
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Benjamin N Lawrance

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300198454

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300198454.001.0001

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The Orphans of La Amistad

(p.1) Introduction
Amistad's Orphans

Benjamin N. Lawrance

Yale University Press

This book traces the lives of six African children in an attempt to demonstrate that the lived experiences of slave children are indeed recoverable, arguing that the role of African child slaves in the illegal slave trade has been underestimated and their experiences misunderstood. A reassessment of the children's participation in the nineteenth-century Atlantic slave-trading networks reveals that the establishment of abolitionism marked the beginning of the child enslavement era. These six lives illustrate the broader experience of African child enslavement and mobility during the early to mid-nineteenth century, as well as the centrality of child mobility to the huge illegal trafficking enterprise supporting the nineteenth-century trans-Atlantic trade. The book shows how these six lives constitute an imagined Atlantic “slave ship family” born of fictional bond, molded by shared traumas, and united by a common goal of survival.

Keywords:   African child slaves, slave children, Atlantic slave trade, child mobility, illegal slave trade, abolitionism, child enslavemen, trans-Atlantic trade, La Amistad

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