Historical fiction: the middle passage


General Information

Value: 50 Points (late papers are penalized)

The due date is listed in Canvas.

Warning- this is a very difficult assignment. The subject matter is very brutal and the assignment requires you to look at this from a very personal experience. Very challenging. Contact me if you have questions or concerns about this assignment.

Please carefully read the PDF of  “British Surgeon Describes the Treatment of Slaves during the Middle Passage (Excerpts)”

ActionsActions describing the process of  loading Africans aboard a slave ship for transportation to the Western Hemisphere . The article was published in 1788 and was written by Alexander Falconbridge, a British surgeon who served as the doctor on a slave ship.

Also attached are two illustrations: one is a drawing of Africans being taken on board a ship and loaded into the hold or storage area of the slave ship. The second is a diagram of a slave ship, proving several views of the interior storage areas of these vessels. These are provided to give you visual clues as to what the conditions were for these captured people.

Approximately 8 to 10 million Africans were kidnapped in Africa, then taken to the New World to be sold into slavery. They had no idea of what fate awaited them: most of the slaves were destined for the West Indies cane fields and most died within five years, a smaller number were headed to North America.

Conditions aboard the slave ships were horrific and many died during the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, in what was known as the “middle passage.” The assignment is to write a short story written in the first person describing what it might have been like to be a person taken aboard a slave ship.


Review the information from the Falconbridge excerpt (“British Surgeon Describes the Treatment of Slaves during the Middle Passage.”); look carefully at the drawing and the ship illustration.  See the links above.

Note: Do not use any sources other than the ones listed here. The use of other sources will be considered plagiarism and will result in a failing grade for this project. (Unicheck plagiarism tool is used to verify any other sources.)

This is historical fiction. You are using the materials provided as a sources to write a story telling the reader what it was like to be a person being forced into slavery against your will. You will write a first person (use “I”) account of what you imagine you would have felt as a captured African being taken aboard the ship and loaded in the hold. Use the Falconbridge account to learn about the specifics of the treatment you would have suffered through and use your imagination to personalize that experience. Describe in every detail you can imagine. What it would have been like? What you would hear, see, feel and smell as you are being loaded on the ship and into the hold (the storage below the deck)?

This essay is to be between 500 and 700 words. Use correct grammar, proper paragraph and sentence construction. Use first person and do not use conditional first person (if I were….). Do not use any sources other than the ones provided.

The format should follow MLA paper layout format (Links to an external site.) (double spaced and other aspects of the layout are detailed on that website). The due date is listed in Canvas. You must submit it on that date or you will lose 5 points if it is submitted after that deadline.  Papers submitted more than 48 hours after the date/time due will not be accepted.

Source of the primary source: “British Surgeon Describes the Treatment of Slaves during the Middle Passage (Excerpts).” Issues & Controversies in American History. Infobase Learning, Web. 13 Jan. 2018. <http://icah.infobaselearning.com/pdocument.aspx?ID=108775>.



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