Summary Of The Diligent

1541 Words7 Pages

The Diligent was written by Robert Harms and discusses the fifteen month voyage of the Diligent to Martinique, including the world of the Atlantic slave trade. In his book, Harms uses the recently “discovered” journal of First Lieutenant Robert Durand. The author of the book makes references to Durand’s journal as well as the overall Atlantic slave trade. The Diligent can be viewed as an accurate representation of what the Atlantic slave trade was like during the eighteenth century right down to the business of the slave trade, the voyage itself, and the middle passage. Most ships that European slave traders used on their voyages to go into Africa were owned by merchants similar to the Billy brothers. The Diligent belonged to the Billy brothers …show more content…

Going on slave voyages to Africa was a dangerous occupation to perform during the time of the Atlantic slave trade considering that “nearly one crew member in four died on French slaving voyages” (Harms 80). The Diligent would lose several of its crew members during the fifteen month voyage since it was relatively common to lose crew members and even the African captives during the Atlantic slave trade. Furthermore, the journey itself was difficult to accomplish during the Atlantic slave trade because of many factors such as “increased dangers from pirates, tropical diseases, and shipboard slave revolts made it risky” (Harms 80). On their way to Whydah and Martinique, the crew of the Diligent noticed a vessel that could have potentially been a pirate ship. Pirates were such a significant threat to the crew of the Diligent, that on their way back from Martinique, the Diligent had to travel with two other ships to protect their goods from being raided and jeopardized. As mentioned in the book, Harms points out that “because of their fear of pirates, the Diligent would be traveling back to France in a convoy together with the Renommé and the St. Anne” (374). On their journey back to France, the Diligent was carrying precious goods such as sugar (both raw and clayed), cotton, and rocou, “a plant native to Martinique” (Harms 372). It was essential that these goods were protected from pirates and …show more content…

Harms mentions in the book “A cold war reigned on the ship. The crew felt it, especially during the early days at sea” (267). The crew of the Diligent were not sure if a slave revolt would break out. As mentioned in the book, Harms says that “all available hands were on alert” (Harms 310). They had to be prepared for the occasion of a revolt since ever crew member of the Diligent had to become prison guards for the African captives. Similarly, this was the circumstance with many of the slave ships during the Atlantic slave trade. The author then goes on to explain how paranoid slave ship crews were during the Atlantic slave trade because of the fear of a slave revolt. Harms then mentions several other slave ships were slave revolts broke out during the Atlantic slave trade such as: the Marie, the Excellent, the Ameriquin, and the Henry (Harms 270-271). With these examples that the author mentioned in the book, it appears that slave revolts occurred quite often on slave ships during the Atlantic slave trade. For the African captives, a revolt was essential to their survival and possibly their liberation, but to the crew of the slave ship, it meant life or dead, or even lost profits. Other than slave revolts, “the other worry of the crew was that some captives would try to commit suicide by jumping overboard while they were on

Open Document