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The Suppression of the Slave Trade
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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division

Harper's Weekly, June 2, 1860

The Africans of the Slave Bark Wildfire

In May 1860 the Wildfire was captured by an American ship and brought to Key West, Florida. On board were 510 men, women, and children from the Congo who were on their way to Cuba. Ninety people had died during the voyage. According to Harper's Weekly, the deck contained "about four hundred and fifty native Africans, in a state of entire nudity, in sitting or squatting posture, the most of them having their knees elevated so as to form a resting place for their heads and arms." Two other slave ships with 513 and 417 Africans on board respectively were also intercepted, their passengers sent to the Florida town. In all, 294 Africans died there from diseases and the terrible conditions of their horrendous voyage. They were buried in unmarked graves on Higgs Beach. By August, more than a thousand survivors had been sent to Liberia but several hundred died before they reached the African coast.

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