Date of Original Version
Abstract or Description
On September 24th, 1860, the slave ship Cora set sail with seven hundred and five Africans trapped inside. Cora’s captain John Latham, a mysterious man history knows almost nothing about, purchased the slaves at the Spanish fort Manque Grande on the West Coast of Africa earlier in the day. Many of the Africans had come from hundreds of miles inland, sold into slavery by their own people as punishment for supposed crimes, suffering a long, hazardous journey downriver and across jungles just to reach the coast. Their future held only the perils of the Middle Passage and a harsh existence on a sugar plantation, unless the African Squadron, a special taskforce of the American Navy, intervened. The sailors of the squadron were a diverse group, hailing from different continents, social classes, and even speaking different languages, but they were each charged with the same task: disrupting the transatlantic slave trade. On September 25th, barely twenty-four hours after Latham had secured his cargo, he and Cora were captured by the flagship of the African Squadron USS Constellation, whose crew, bored out of their minds by the monotony of the African coast, were thrilled at the aspect of some excitement. The following is a fictionalized account of slavers, human cargo, and pirate-hunters and of how they crossed paths.