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The Middle Passage

The Sally was in Africa for more than nine months, an exceptionally long time for a slave ship to remain on the coast. In that time, Hopkins purchased a total of 196 enslaved Africans. Nineteen of those people died before the ship left the coast, and a twentieth was left for dead on the day the ship sailed. [1] Hopkins had also sold at least twenty-one Africans to other traders, bringing his total "cargo" to about 155 men, women, and children.

The Sally embarked on its return journey on August 21, 1765. In the first week at sea, four more Africans—a woman, two boys, and a girl—died. On the seventh day out, the surviving captives staged an insurrection, an episode noted in a terse entry in Hopkins's account book: "Slaves Rose on us was obliged fire on them and Destroyed 8 and Several more wounded badly 1 thye & 1 Ribs broke." [2] According to the account Hopkins gave to the Brown brothers, the slaves became "so Desperited" after the failed insurrection that "Some Drowned them Selves Some Starved and Others Sickened & Dyed." [3] By the time Hopkins reached the island of Antigua in the West Indies, another sixty-eight Africans had perished. Twenty more died in the days after the ship's arrival, before they could be sold. [4]

On October 9, Hopkins wrote to the Browns from Antigua, reporting his arrival and losses. The news was a devastating blow to the heavily indebted Browns, but they consoled themselves with the knowledge that their friend Hopkins had survived. [5] "We need not mention how Disagreeable the Nuse of your Lusing 3 of yr Hands and 88 Slaves is to us & all your friends," they wrote, "but your Self Continuing in Helth is so grate Satisfaction to us, that we Remain Contented under the Heavy Loss of our Int[erests]." [6]

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