Remembering Slavery

Remembering Slavery Learning Zone

Glossary

The following terms are related to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and are used across the Learning Zone.

Abolition

Bringing an end to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery.

Abolition of Slavery Act 1833

This Act brought into effect the gradual abolition of slavery in all British colonies. A six-year period of apprenticeship was imposed on the enslaved before they could be granted freedom; this was later reduced to four years.

Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807

British Parliamentary Act which stopped ships carrying enslaved Africans to British-owned colonies in the Caribbean and the Americas.

Abolitionist

Person who supported the campaign to end the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery.

Absentee landowners

Plantation owners who did not live on the estate but arranged for the plantations to be run by managers on their behalf. Many people from the North East made their wealth through ownership of plantations in the Caribbean whilst living in England.

Act

Law enacted by Parliament.

Am I Not A Man and a Brother?

Slogan adopted in the anti-slavery campaign. It accompanied an image of a kneeling enslaved African and was popularised by the English potter Josiah Wedgwood.

Amazing Grace

Hymn written by John Newton, former master of a slave ship. It was also used sung as a Spiritual by enslaved Africans.

Anti-slavery

A person or group who were against slavery.

Anti-Slavery International

An international human rights organisation. Its roots are based in the first abolitionist society.

Apprentice

A person legally bound to a master through indenture in order to learn a trade. After the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833, a six-year period of apprenticeship was imposed on the enslaved before they could be granted freedom; this was later reduced to four years.

Bill

A proposed law introduced to Parliament for discussion. If passed, it is then made into an Act.

Black History Month

A celebration of the achievements of the black community. Black History Month is every October in the UK.

Boycott

Some campaigners in the 1780s and 1820s called on people to stop buying and eating West Indian sugar. The word 'abstention' would have been applied at the time - 'boycott' was not used until later on. Many women, especially Quakers, arranged these boycotts of goods produced using enslaved labour, especially sugar and cotton.

Brookes ship

The name of a ship used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. A plan of the Brookes slave ship was used by the abolitionists in 1789 to show how 482 Africans were crammed on a slave ship. The poster shocked people at the time and was used to great effect in the campaign to persuade Parliament to pass the 1807 Act.

Capoeira

A form of martial art practised on plantations in Brazil. Slave owners were terrified of rebellion on plantations so the enslaved workers formed it into a dance in order for them to continue practising it.

Chattel slavery

A type of slavery whereby enslaved workers were treated as property.

Coal

Coal from pits in the North East was shipped out to the Caribbean Islands. It heated the pans and boilers used in the conversion of raw sugar into pure sugar. This link to the slave trade is relatively hidden because most did not go directly from Newcastle but via London.

Codrington Plantation

The name of a plantation in Barbados which was owned by the Church of England. In February 2006 the Church of England voted to apologise officially to descendants of the victims of the slave trade.

Coffee

Coffee was made less bitter with the addition of sugar, leading to an increase in sugar consumption during the time of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. New social rituals connected with drinking coffee emerged in private homes and coffee houses. Elegant new consumer items in glass and silver, made by skilled craftsmen, enhanced the enjoyment of produce from the slave plantations.

Colony

An overseas territory or country ruled by Britain or other European countries.

Commemorate

To serve as a memorial and to honour the memory of something - for example, the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Compensation

After the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833, plantation owners in the West Indies jointly received £20 million in compensation for the loss of their enslaved workers. Two large claimants connected to the North East were the Graham Clarke family with five separate claims in Jamaica and the Trevelyan family with four substantial claims in Grenada.

Conductor

In the Underground Railroad, a conductor was someone who helped enslaved workers to safety.

Contemporary slavery

Slavery exists today and takes various forms, such as bonded labour, forced marriage, trafficking and child labour.

Cotton

A product grown by enslaved workers on plantations.

Crowley Ironworks

Ironworks in Gateshead that supplied tools used on slave plantations.

Emancipation

Freeing of an enslaved person.

Enslavement

To make a person into a slave.

Free Produce Movement

Movement established in America in the 1820s encouraging abstention from goods produced using enslaved labour. It also sought to supply alternative products. Between 1846 and 1856, Anna Richardson of Newcastle (a Quaker) was at the forefront of the Free Produce Movement in Britain. There were ten branches in the North East.

Freedom fighters

Term used to describe enslaved people who fought for their freedom.

French Revolution

The French Revolution of 1789 helped encourage ideas of liberty and equality.

Fugitive

A fugitive is someone who has run away. By the 1700s there were large communities of runaway enslaved workers in the Caribbean Islands and the Americas.

Gold Coast

A part of West Africa (now Ghana) used for trading gold.

Guns

Guns were taken to Africa by Europeans to trade for enslaved Africans. Also used by Africans to rise up against their masters.

Haiti

Formerly Saint Dominique, Haiti became the first ever black slave republic in 1804.

Indigo

Produced by enslaved workers and brought back to Europe by slave traders on the Return Passage.

Insurrection

An uprising, rebellion.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Marked each year on 23rd August, the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was established by UNESCO to remember the tragedy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The night of 22 to 23 August 1791 in Saint Dominique (today Haiti) saw the beginning of the rebellion by enslaved Africans that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Marked each year on 2nd December, the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery marks the date the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others was implemented.

Irons

Another term for shackles.

Mahogany

Imported from the Americas and the Caribbean where the felling of wood was dependant upon enslaved labour.

Manacles

Metal chains and restraints used to control enslaved Africans.

Manilla

Bracelet-shaped objects made out of brass and used as currency in West Africa from the 15th century until the 20th century. They were used to trade for slaves during the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Maroon

Runaway enslaved workers in the Americas and the West Indies.

Middle Passage

The second stage of the trans-Atlantic slave trade triangle. The Africans were herded onto ships for the passage to the Caribbean Islands or the Americas.

Missionary

A person sent to educate others about their faith and to carry out charitable work.

Negro

A racial term used in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries to describe a person of African descent. Use of the word today is considered unacceptable, derogatory and racist.

New World

Term used to describe the Americas at the time they were discovered by Europeans.

Nonconformist religion

Dissenting Christian religions which do not conform to the doctrines, customs and practices of the established Church (i.e. the Church of England), including Quakers, Baptists and Methodists.

Oppression

The cruel and unjust exercising of authority.

Outward Passage

The first stage of the trans-Atlantic slave trade triangle. Thousands of British ships set sail for West Africa laden with metal goods, cloth, alcohol and guns to exchange for captured Africans.

Petition

A written request to a particular individual or group, for example, a government. Petitions were often signed by many people. Parliament was showered with hundreds of petitions, including many from North East towns and villages, as part of the campaign to abolish the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Plantation

A large area of land planted with particular crops, such as tobacco and sugar, where enslaved people worked when they reached the Caribbean Islands and the Americas.

Pro-slavery

To be in favour of, or to support, slavery.

Quaker

Member of the nonconformist religious group, the Religious Society of Friends. Local Quaker families played a leading role in the Newcastle anti-slavery movement. Many of them lived in the Summerhill area of West Newcastle. Anna Richardson and her husband, Henry, welcomed several African-American anti-slavery campaigners into their home on Summerhill Grove.

Rebellion

Organised and armed protest against authority. From the moment of their capture, enslaved Africans were looking for ways to free themselves. Slave owners were terrified of rebellion and punishments were horrifying.

Resilience

Ability to adjust to, and recover from, change. Despite their oppression, the enslaved communities had their own beliefs, organisations and values which kept them strong.

Return Passage

The third stage of the trans-Atlantic slave trade triangle. Slave traders used the money from the sale of the Africans to buy slave-produced goods from the Caribbean Islands and the Americas. These were then carried back in the slave ships.

Revolt

Uprising against the established authority.

Rum

Rum is made from a sugar by-product called molasses. It was exchanged by slave traders for enslaved Africans, who were in turn used to cultivate more sugar. Rum became an important drink, especially in the merchant and Naval fleets, and for giving to captured Africans on the slave ships as a means of controlling them. British sailors were permitted a daily amount of rum.

Saint Dominique

A Caribbean island and French colony. In 1804 it became the first ever black slave republic, Haiti.

Shackles

Metal chains and restraints used to control enslaved Africans.

Sierra Leone

A British colony for freed enslaved workers in West Africa. In 1792, Dr Winterbottom of South Shields became the colony's doctor until he returned to South Shields in 1796 and took over his father's medical practice.

Slave ship

Ship used in the triangular route of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Merchant ships would take European produce to West Africa. They were then modified on the African coast to enable them to carry enslaved Africans on the Middle Passage. On arrival in the Americas, these modifications were dismantled, so that the hold could be filled with the cargo (usually products grown by enslaved labour).

Slavery

Keeping people as property against their will.

Speculum oris

An instrument used to force open the jaws of enslaved Africans on board slave ships so that the crew could force feed them. It was scissor-shaped with a thumbscrew to turn which forced the jaw open. One form of resistance practiced by the enslaved Africans was refusing to eat and use of this instrument ensured that the enslaved Africans would not die and therefore the ship's captain would not lose money. The speculum oris was originally intended as a surgeon's tool for treating lockjaw, an early symptom of tetanus.

Spirituals

Songs sung by the enslaved on plantations to drive their tedious labour and to provide relief from their situation. The songs often referred to biblical stories.

Sugar

One of the most profitable products grown on the slave plantations during the years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It had become so profitable because Europe, and in particular Britain, developed a 'sweet tooth'.

Summerhill

An area in West Newcastle. Some local Quaker families who played a leading role in the Newcastle anti-slavery movement lived in the Summerhill area. Anna Richardson and her husband, Henry, welcomed several African-American anti-slavery campaigners into their home on Summerhill Grove - chiefly Frederick Douglass in 1846 and William Wells Brown in 1850.

Tea

Tea and coffee were very bitter at the time of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and became much more palatable with the addition of sugar. Consumption of sugar, tea and coffee in Britain was rising, fuelling the demand for plantation-grown products.

Tobacco

A product grown by enslaved workers on plantations. It was also used to help calm enslaved Africans.

Trafficking

Transport and/or trade of people and forcing them into slavery conditions.

Trans-Atlantic slave trade

The kidnap and sale of 10 to 12 million African people to European traders along the West Coast of Africa. The enslaved Africans were then transported in ships to the Caribbean Islands and North and South America where they were forced to work, usually on plantations growing crops such as sugar cane, cotton and rice.

Triangular Trade

The ships engaged in the slave trade followed a triangular route across the Atlantic Ocean which involved three journeys: from Europe to West Africa (Outward Passage); from West Africa to the Caribbean Islands and the Americas (Middle Passage); and the homeward voyage to Europe (Return Passage).

Underground Railroad

Network of escape routes organised by formerly enslaved people in the United States in the 1800s.

White Gold

Sugar was also known as 'White Gold' and was one of the most profitable products grown on the slave plantations during the years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Zong ship

The name of a slave ship which set sail from West Africa in 1781. 133 enslaved Africans were thrown overboard so that the captain could claim against the insurance for loss of cargo (i.e. the enslaved).

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