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Current Geolocation of St. Louis, Senegal​​​​​

The primary locations of embarkation of these eleven voyages include: Senegal, Sierre Leone,  the Windward Coast (which is described according to the Slave Voyages database as the “Cape Mount south-east to and including the Assini river”), and the Gambia, currently named The Republic of the Gambia. 

Individuals were brought from various places across the continent, implying that the exact origin of the cultural background of enslaved Africans onboarding these vessels is uncertain. What is clear, is that these enslaved Africans brought expertise in agriculture and other skillsets that contributed to the flourishing economy in North Carolina. 

“Africans who entered this world confronted a situation not wholly unfamiliar, for their own concepts of time and labor meshed neatly with existing ideas and practices. In addition to specific skills, Africans brought with them a task-oriented conception of work close to that of other preindustrial peoples, including the European colonist.”

-Marvin L. Michael Kay and Lorin Lee Cary, Slavery in North Carolina, 1748-1775

Current Geolocation of Sierra Leone
Current Geolocation of Sierra Leone

The voyages arriving from Africa to North Carolina illustrate how large European-owned companies on the coast of Africa were responsible for selling Africans to individuals and businesses in North Carolina. For example, the ship the Harlequin was owned by Miles Barber1. Barber, a prominent Liverpool merchant established a factory called the Sierre Leone Company. His enterprise had facilities to build and repair boats, as well as serving as a staging area for the trade of enslaved Africans. 

It is imperative that the origins of the individuals coming through North Carolina’s waterways are discussed. Though treated as property, the enslaved Africans were indeed human. Their humanity empowered the descendants of those forced across the Atlantic Ocean to sustain a culture and knowledge that permeates North Carolina’s identity. This culture and knowledge are evident in many facets of North Carolina culture: in music forms such as jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel; in agricultural knowledge related to crop experimentation; and in navigational and maritime expertise.  


1Mouser, Bruce J. Iles de Los as bulking center in the slave trade, 1750-1800. In: Revue française d'histoire d'outre-mer, 1996. pp. 77-91.

Further Readings

Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Bellagamba, Alice, Sandra E. Greene, and Martin A. Klein, eds. African Voices on Slavery and the Slave Trade. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Domingues da Silva, Daniel. The Atlantic Slave Trade from West Central Africa, 1780-1867. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Digital Resources

Slave Voyages Introductory Maps
The Slave Voyages Introductory Maps include various maps that display the slave trade over various time periods. Maps 6-8, show the various places enslaved Africans disembarked as well as sites of embarkation. This resource also includes the estimated embarkation percentages and the total number of documented embarkations.

Harvard University's Africa Map
Harvard University's Africa map is a contemporary map of Africa that lists all the language families by region. In addition, to the multiple layers that are included on this map, it also lists disembarkation and embarkation sites related to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Princeton University's Evolution of the Map of Africa
Princeton University has created a database of maps of Africa from 1554-1880. The purpose of this source is to show the perception of Africa through the European lens. The maps also give a representation of how ethnic groups/language families were geographically placed over time.

Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora
The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Digital Media Laboratory at the University of Virginia compiled over 1,000 images of pre-colonial Africa. This includes portraits of prominent African leaders, the slave trade in Africa and the Americas, and other important historical events.