Sunday, May 2, 2021

Ending the New York Slave Trade

 From Smithsonian:

The men of the “Portuguese Company,” about a dozen in total, arrived in 1850s Manhattan ready to bring the illegal slave trade to America’s mega-metropolis. Hailing from Brazil, Portugal and Angola, the group earned their moniker from their common tongue. They were attracted by New York’s large port, with ample ships and sailors, as well as the city’s vast financial services and lax law enforcement. Posing as merchants in legal business, the Company snapped up hundreds of ships to send to Africa for captives and then to the sugar estates of Cuba. The Company would traffic thousands of Africans for their own enrichment, but they also crossed Cuban immigrant Emilio Sanchez, whose spycraft for the British government would prevent thousands more from enduring the Middle Passage aboard American slave ships.

Sanchez’s turn to informant is just one example of how fighting slavery was a collective effort. A wide cast of characters, from the great orators of the abolitionist movement to the conductors of the Underground Railroad to men like Sanchez fought against the institution of slavery and all its components, including the illegal international slave trade. Their work was dangerous, their foes were powerful – even in the “free” North – and the U.S. government was rarely on their side. (Read more.)


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