Born in present-day Ghana, Quobna Ottobah Cugoano was kidnapped at the age of thirteen and sold into slavery by his fellow Africans in 1770; he worked in the brutal plantation chain gangs of the West Indies before being freed in England. His Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery is the most direct criticism of slavery by a writer of African descent. Cugoano refutes pro-slavery arguments of the day, including slavery’s supposed divine sanction; the belief that Africans gladly sold their own families into slavery; that Africans were especially suited to its rigors; and that West Indian slaves led better lives than European serfs. Exploiting his dual identity as both an African and a British citizen, Cugoano daringly asserted that all those under slavery’s yoke had a moral obligation to rebel, while at the same time he appealed to white England’s better self.
“Vincent Carretta singlehandedly has transformed our understanding of the origins of the Anglo-African literary tradition. He has breathed new life into texts long thought dead” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Introduction by Vincent Carretta
A Note on the Text
Suggestions for Further Reading
Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Humbly Submitted to The Inhabitants of Great-Britain, by Ottobah Cugoano, a Native of Africa.
Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery; or, the Nature of Servitude as Admitted by the Law of God, Compared to the Modern Slavery of the Africans in the West-Indies; In an Answer to the Advocates for Slavery and Oppression. Addressed to the Sons of Africa, by a Native.
Explanatory Notes to the 1787 Publication
Explanatory Notes to the 1791 Publication
Appendix: Correspondence of Quobna Ottobah Cugoano