Clio Edition 4 - page 7

7
The Zong Massacre
29th November 1781
The British Zong trading ship set sail from Accra, Ghana, carrying approximately 442 slaves
- twice as many as the vessel should have had on board. Under the command of Captain
Luke Collingwood, the ship took the wrong route on its way to Jamaica. As a result, the
crew thought that they would not have enough water for all the people on board, so made
the decision to throw the slaves overboard. The believed they could claim insurance for the
loss of their ‘cargo’, which they would not be able to do if the slaves died on board. The ship
crew later justified their actions by saying that it was necessary to save the lives of the other
slaves. Over the course of three days, approximately 133 slaves were drowned. When the ship
reached the docks, they tried to claim insurance for the loss, but were denied on the grounds
that they destroyed their own property. The Zong Case went to court, but the judge Lord
Mansfield ruled in favour of the slave traders.
Luke Collingwood, Captain of the ship, made the decision to throw the slaves
overboard. Other important members of the crew included the first mate James
Kelsall and passenger Robert Stubs, who was an ex-slave ship owner and trader.
The other most important person, who changed the whole ending of the event,
was the judge, Lord Chief Justice, who ruled against the right of the slaves.
This event had a large impact on both British and international history, as it was one of the
most famous cases which illustrated the inhumanity of slavery. At the time, it didn’t get a lot of
publicity, however, as more and more people heard about the Zong massacre, they realised that
slavery was, in fact, very cruel. This meant that a lot of the general public started to question
whether slavery should be allowed. It also had a large impact on the families of those who
were killed.
The Zong
Massacre
Name:
Date:
What Happened:
Important Figures:
Impact:
By Louisa
Owen
Fact
File
:
The Slave Ship by
Turner, his response
to the mass murder
of slaves. Inspired by
the Zong Massacre.
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