The roads of slavery across the Sahara in 1791

The roads of slavery across the Sahara in 1791

  • Card to be used for Mr. Saugnier's trip to Senegal.

  • Routes from Timbuktu. [Detail of] Card to be used for Mr. Saugnier's trip to Senegal.

  • This is how the Moors take slaves.

  • Mr. Durand giving his instructions to his envoy in Galam.

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Title: Card to be used for Mr. Saugnier's trip to Senegal.

Author :

Creation date : 1791

Date shown: 1791

Dimensions: Height 63 - Width 90

Technique and other indications: Engraving.Full title: Card to be used for Mr. Saugnier's trip to Senegal, drawn up in his Memoirs By Mr. de Laborde. His route and that of Mr. Brisson have been marked there.

Storage place: Historic Center of the National Archives website

Contact copyright: © Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Picture reference: CHAN NN / 171/58

Card to be used for Mr. Saugnier's trip to Senegal.

© Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

To close

Title: Routes from Timbuktu. Brisson.

Storage place: Historic Center of the National Archives website

Contact copyright: © Historic Center of the National Archives - Photo workshop website

Picture reference: CHAN NN / 171/58

Routes from Timbuktu. Saugnier in Senegal.

© Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

To close

Title: This is how the Moors take slaves.

Author :

Creation date : 1789

Date shown: 1789

Dimensions: Height 24.5 - Width 34

Technique and other indications: Engraved plate extracted from: Dominique-Harcourt Lamiral, Africa and the African people considered in all their relation to our trade and our colonies, ..., Paris, Dessenne, 1789. Page 370.

Storage place: Overseas Archives Center website

Contact copyright: © Center des Archives d'Outre-Mersite web

Picture reference: CAOM / BIB.AOM

This is how the Moors take slaves.

© Center des Archives d'Outre-Mer

To close

Title: Mr. Durand giving his instructions to his envoy in Galam.

Author :

Creation date : 1801

Date shown: 1801

Dimensions: Height 37.7 - Width 34.5

Technique and other indications: Engraved plate n ° 33, extracted from: Jean-Baptiste-Léonard Durand, Atlas for travel to Senegal, or historical memoirs, ... on the discoveries, establishments and commerce of Europeans in the seas of the Atlantic Ocean, ... , Paris, H. Agasse, An X [1801/1802].

Storage place: Overseas Archives Center website

Contact copyright: © Center des Archives d'Outre-Mersite web

Picture reference: CAOM / BIB.AOM

Mr. Durand giving his instructions to his envoy in Galam.

© Overseas Archives Center

Publication date: March 2007

Video

The roads of slavery across the Sahara in 1791

Video

Historical context

Knowledge of Africa

On the eve of the Revolution, the course of the African coasts was established with precision, especially in the areas where the most important trade was carried out, the slave trade, towards the West Indies and the coasts of the Americas. The region of Niger and Senegal where smaller kingdoms

replace old empires is better mapped, thanks to more data

details reported by daring travelers. The crossing of the Sahara which seemed impassable to Europeans is encouraged by the African Association of London.

Several traveler's accounts and more precise maps bear witness to the desire to enter the interior of the continent at the end of the 1780s, even though their publication was not effective until after the Revolution. Thus William Lemprière's trip to Morocco, made around 1789, will appear in 1801, with a map drawn up by the English Major James Rennell (1742-1830) from 1790.

These new advances in the discovery of the Sahara did not escape the enlightenment of Jean Benjamin de Laborde (1734-1794). A general farmer with a large income, he cultivated many activities in keeping with the spirit of his time and his environment, artistic gifts for music and an interest in book publishing and cartography; he published a discoverer's story and the map of these routes across the Sahara from 1791.

Image Analysis

The map

On the scientific grid of latitudes and longitudes, this map shows the state of topographical knowledge of North and West Africa in 1791. Its purpose is to complete the travel account of M. Saugnier, shipwrecked, captured and sold by Arabs as slaves; he uses this experience to engage in the slave trade himself. Saugnier is only a fictional hero, but under this name Laborde brings together at least two true stories. He adapted the text to the tastes of his contemporaries by borrowing from other travel accounts and from the writings of philosophers. He describes the widespread nature of the practice of slavery in an alert style. Crossing the Sahara with a caravan of slaves, the hero notes: "An Arab must be very poor not to have at least one negro captive".

The editor, Jean Benjamin de Laborde, who is fascinated by the diversity of cultures, indicates, on the map, kingdoms, characters, peoples, resources, and any recent information, even if errors persist such as the alleged common source in Senegal and Niger . Like the geographer of Anville, in 1738, Laborde located in order to correct them, the indications given by the geographers who have had authority for centuries: Ptolemy, from the 2nd century after Jesus-Christ, and Idrizi, an Arab cartographer from the 12th century.

Routes followed by slave traders

The map provides new information for the Sahara: the route of the caravan routes which cross it. It uses Major Rennell's map where these routes are referred to as "slave trade routes" in 1790. Mr. Saugnier's trip also describes the presence of many blacks taken captive by Arabs.

The captives raided or bought in West Africa are taken to three main areas where caravans are formed before starting to cross the desert: the banks of the Senegal River upstream of Saint-Louis, the region of Timbuktu and the territory of Cano.

From the edges of Senegal, the slaves are transported to Morocco through Mauritania, Mr. Brisson, a very real character, shipwrecked in Cap Blanc in 1785, was captured by an Arab who took him south, to sell him to another master who took him back north to Morocco, by this track. We note that the name of the country and that of the city that will become Marrakech are not yet differentiated on the map.

If the mysterious Timbuktu, capital of Sudan, appears on this map of 1791, it will not be reached and described by a European until 1795. The slaves who are grouped there can be transported in three directions, towards Morocco by the well from Aroan (Araouanne), to Algiers, or to Ghédamès (Ghadamès), from where they are taken to Tunis or to Tripoli.

Finally, the track which comes from Cano via Agadès reaches Tripolitania via the Fezzan.

On these desert tracks, the Arabs practice an important trade which supplies the internal markets of the Magreb and the Mediterranean ports from where the slaves leave towards the East.

"This is how the Moors take slaves"

This image, published in 1789, shows an Arab raid of captives in a burnt African village. A slave trader seeks to seize a black man after he ties a woman to the tail of his horse and abducts a child on the croup. The image breaks with the conventional representations that obscure the dramatic scenes at the time; widely known before the Revolution, this scene will very often be reproduced

"Mr. Durand, former governor of the Company of Senegal, giving orders to his envoy to Golam, leaving on the back of a camel"

These are the conditions for camel travel for adventurous travelers who set out to explore the interior of the continent. Departing from Saint-Louis, in 1786, a land expedition led by Mr. Rubaud, accompanied by a Marabout (Arab) and a domestic Negro, began to join the Golam trading post, the annual destination of traders in Senegal. . Travel by land, faster than by river, allows the envoy to negotiate slaves before the boat arrives. He sends a messenger but dies before the return, assassinated by his rebellious slaves.

Interpretation

Black Africa was the subject of a renewed interest in advanced and learned circles in Europe at the end of the 18th century. Any new information on Africa at the time constituted strategic information, of an economic or political nature.

On this map, annotations abound, mixing originality and commercial sense. The widespread practice of slavery is clearly revealed there.

Immediately translated, Laborde's book and map were sold in 1792 in England, the first trading country. They are indicative of the ambiguities of the time on the issue of slavery. Africa is fascinating, an ambiguous universe where slavery and exoticism mingled give rise to lucrative trade. Despite the moralizing character of the Enlightenment, the "desire for wealth wins out over everything". The utopia that reason and progress would spread happiness has served as an alibi for many selfishness.

  • cards
  • slavery
  • Sahara
  • Trafficking in Blacks
  • Slave Trade
  • Africa
  • trade

Bibliography

François BESSIRE (Ed.)Reports of several trips to the African coast, to Morocco, to Senegal, to Gorée, to Galam, etc. [Printed text], with details of interest to those who intend to trade in negroes, in gold, ivory, etc., taken from the diaries of M.Saugnier who was for a long time a slave to the Moors and the Emperor of Morocco,Paris, Publications of the University of Saint-Etienne, 2005 Claude FAUQUE, Marie-Josée THIELThe roads of slavery. History of a very great disturbance,Paris, Hermé, 2004.William LEMPRIEREVoyage in the empire of Morocco and the kingdom of Fez, made during the years 1790 and 1791 [Printed text], by G. Lemprière, ... translated from English by M.de Sainte-Suzanne ... accompanied by 'a geographical map of Africa, by Major Rennel, augm. of an itinerary ... by Brion father ...Paris, Tavernier, year IX (1801). Link Gallica Relations of several trips to the African coast, Morocco, Senegal, Gorée, Galam, etc. [Text printed], with details of interest to those who are destined for the slave trade, gold, ivory, etc., taken from the diaries of M.Saugnier who was for a long time a slave of the Moors and the Emperor of Morocco Paris [Gueffier young, 1791] and Maestricht, J.-P. Roux, 1792. Lien Gallica Guide to the sources of the slave trade, slavery and their abolition,Directorate of Archives de France, La documentation française, Paris, 2007.

To cite this article

Luce-Marie ALBIGÈS, "The roads of slavery across the Sahara in 1791"


Video: History of Arab Slave Trade