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The Slave Ship Zong

The Slave Ship Zong

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Published by Donnette Davis
The Slave Ship Zong, The Slave Trade in Angola
The Slave Ship Zong, The Slave Trade in Angola

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Published by: Donnette Davis on Sep 15, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/23/2010

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The Transatlantic Slave Trade
Activity
3
:
T
he
S
lave
S
hip
 
ong
Give students a copy of the Slave Ship
Zong 
case study to read.Tell the class that they will be taking part in an imaginary court casebetween abolitionist Granville Sharp and the Zong's owners andcrew. Sharp is taking the ship’s owners and the crew to court to trythem for the murder of 133 slaves.
A vital piece of evidence has been left out of the case study. Itshould not be given to the class until the court case has beenacted out and the jury have come to their verdict.
PREPARATION
There are nine characters and a jury.
Characters
:
Choose nine pairs and give each pair a character quote. Only oneperson from each pair will represent the character in the court case.But students should prepare the character’s testimony in theirpairs.They should be allowed a good deal of time (perhaps one lessonand homework time) to prepare their roles.Students should use other sources to build their testimonies, forexample excerpts from this pack such as Olaudah Equiano'saccount of the Middle Passage, the excerpts from ThomasClarkson's essay and the arguments in favour of the slave tradefrom the video and pack. They could also use some of the materialssuggested on page 28 such as websites, narratives or other books.
Jury:
The remaining students will act as the jury. Their role will be todecide if the owners of the ship and its crew are innocent or guiltyof murder.While the characters are preparing their testimonies, the juryshould also be preparing roles.They should decide what character they would like to play on the jury. They should create a name for this person, a job, a personalityand how they feel about being called to be on the jury for this trial(for example they may think it is a waste of time because the slavetrade is a good thing, or they may feel strongly that justice must beserved, depending on the character they choose to represent).There would have been a number of different people with differentopinions at the time. Some may have been directly involved in theslave trade (for example slave ship owners or Captains) and someindirectly and without even realising their involvement (likeshopkeepers, or people working in the ports).The jury should not prepare anything for the court case itself. Theyshould not do any research on the case at all, so that they providean objective opinion. And they should not ask any questions duringthe trial. They should just observe.
THE
C
OURT
C
ASE
When the characters and the jury are prepared, the classroomshould be arranged to resemble a courtroom as far as possible.This will help students to fall into role more easily.The jury should begin by standing up and presenting themselvesto the court. Then the case should begin. Characters should actout their roles as convincingly as possible, having planned theirarguments and evidence.Each character should be given a maximum of five minutes in thedock. The case should take no more than one hour to act out.
AFTER
T
HE
C
OURT
C
ASE
After all the characters have given evidence, the jury should begiven only five minutes to reflect and decide individually whetherthe ship owners and crew are innocent or guilty. They should voteindividually and the majority will determine the result.Now tell the class the missing evidence:Luke Collingwood, the ship’s master knew this. However he diedsoon after the
Zong 
tragedy. It is possible that none of the crewknew this and were just following his orders. It is also possible thatsome/all of the crew were lying.The class should then discuss the case together. Out of their roles,students may have very different opinions about the characters theyplayed. The following are discussion points that teachers may wantto cover:Is it right to treat human beings as property?Is it possible to put a price on someone's life?Slavery is against all Christian beliefs.Slavery was a respected ‘business’.Africans were treated as less than human beings.Could this happen today?If appropriate, the trial could be performed again, to other classesor to the rest of the school for a special event to commemorate theslave trade.
 
W
 
hen the ship arrive
 
d in J
 
amaica, in fact it had 420 gallons ofwater left on boar
 
d.
 
A
 
IM:
T
 
he aim of this activ
 
it
 
y is to make students question themoral issues aroun
 
d the stor
 
y of the slave ship
 
ong 
.It is also to encourage students to use their ima
 
ginations,thinking abou
 
t what so
 
ciety may have been like in a city likeL
 
iverpool that was gr
 
owing enormously rich as a result of theslave trade.It is impor
 
tant to note that in fa
 
ct this cour
 
t case never tookplace. In spite of the effor
 
ts of G
 
ranv
 
ille Sharp, who wroteletters to people in positions of power, in
 
cluding the P
 
rimeMinister, ever
 
yone involve
 
d in the tra
 
ge
 
dy of the slave ship
 
ong 
went unpunishe
 
d.
They
w
ere
n
ever
b
rought
t
o
j
ustice.
 
3. The Middle Passage
 
The Transatlantic Slave Trade
3. The Middle Passage
Activity
3
:
T
he
S
lave
S
hip
 
ong
C
 
ase Study
On 6 September 1781, the slave ship
Zong 
sailed for the West Indies from Sao Tomé, anisland off the coast of West Africa, carryingabout 470 slaves and a crew of 17. The shipwas owned by Liverpool banker and slavetrader William Gregson and his colleagueGeorge Case. A month into the journey a highpercentage of the slaves and crew had died orwere sick and unlikely to recover.Luke Collingwood, the ship's master knew thatif death were a result of natural causes, theinsurers wouldn't pay them for their losses.They would pay however, if it had beennecessary to kill them for the safety of theship. Luke Collingwood told the insurers thatthe water was running short and in order tosave the crew and the ship, they had beenforced to throw 133 slaves overboard, alive,into the sea. A small number of slavesmanaged to break free from their captors and jump to their death, before they were thrown.As it happened, the insurers refused to pay theclaim and the case was taken to court twice in1783, the owners demanding to be paid £30for each 'lost' slave. Abolitionist OlaudahEquiano heard about this case and told fellowabolitionist Granville Sharp, who immediatelylaunched a campaign for justice. Within threedays he had instructed solicitors to startproceedings 'against all persons concerned inthrowing into the sea 133 slaves' anddemanded that those of the crew who hadsurvived should be tried for murder.
 
‘The Print’, Thomas Clarkson’s image of a slave ship,showing slaves ‘packed like books on shelves’.

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