The city of New York was at the center of the illegal trans-Atlantic slave trade during the 1850s and early 1860 conveying kidnapped and enslaved Africans from the coast of West Africa primarily into Cuba where there was an expanding sugar industry.
In The Last Slave Ships: New York and the End of the Middle Passage (Yale Univ. Press, 2020), John Harris, a professor of history at Erskine College in South Carolina, estimates that between 1853 and 1867, 474 shipments carrying almost 200,000 men women and children were brought to Cuba. Most of this was brokered by transplanted Brazilians and Portuguese known as the Portuguese Company, who shifted their operation to New York because of the decline of the Angola to Brazil slave trade in the 1850s. Harris argues they were supported by the pro-slavery faction of the city’s Democratic Party and its chief financial institutions. [Read more…] about New Book Considers The Last Slave Ships & New York