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The Story of the Charles

Historian Michael A. Lord describes the voyage of the Charles, a ship owned by New York merchant and slave trader Frederick Philipse. The Charles was one of the northern colonial ships that transported hundreds of thousands of captives from Africa to the American colonies and the West Indies.



Nicolas Sansson (French, 1600–1667)

This map of Africa shows the European understanding of the continent's features in the middle of the seventeenth century.

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

Fighting between tribes of lower Ethiopia.


Olfert Dapper (Dutch, 1636–1689)

Although it depicts a conflict among peoples in a region further to the east, this 17th-century print evokes the unrest in the BaKongo that resulted in tribal leaders selling prisoners of war.

De Agostini Editore.

Slaves packed below and on deck



Although no image of them exists, the enslaved men, women and children who survived the miseries of the trans-Atlantic crossing aboard the Charles also provided the physical labor to build Philipsburg Manor in the Hudson River Valley.

GRANGER / GRANGER — All rights reserved.

A pink laying at anchor


Gerritt Groenewegen (Dutch, active late 18th century)

This ship, like the Charles, is the type known as a pink.

Collection Maritime Museum Sneek.

Sections of a slave ship.



Enslavers paid for modifications like intermediate decks aboard their ships to carry more African captives on trans-Atlantic crossings. This illustration appeared in an edition of Rev. Robert Walsh's account of conditions he witnessed aboard a slave ship in 1829.

CPA Media - Pictures from History / GRANGER — All rights reserved.

Loading plan for a small ship

18th c.


In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, enslavers like Frederick Philipse used relatively small ships to carry human cargo. One hundred and forty-six African captives began the voyage on the [Charles] in 1684; thirty-two perished on the crossing or immediately afterwards.


A Ship on the High Seas Caught by a Squall, also known as The Gust.

c. 1680

Willem van de Velde II (Dutch, 1633–1707)

The transatlantic crossing proved dangerous for many would-be colonists.


Africans thrown overboard from the slave ship Brazil

January 7, 1832


This woodcut was originally published in The Liberator, an American abolitionist newspaper.

Library of Congress.

The Western Ocean



This map of the Atlantic world from the atlas The English Pilot, the Fifth Book, shows navigation routes that linked Africa and Europe to the colonial Americas and the West Indies.

Mariner's Museum and Park.

A Representation of the Sugar-Cane and the Art of Making Sugar



Shown here are the labor-intensive steps needed to make molasses and sugar for export from the West Indies. Enslaved men carry cut sugar cane to the mill at upper right where it is broken down. Raw cane juice flows in channels to the boiling house at left where other enslaved men purify and thicken the juice through boiling in a series of vats. The reduced liquid is then set to harden in molds in a curing house.

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Adolph Philipse

c. 1695


Adolph Philipse, merchant and politician, the owner of Philipsburg Manor.

Artist unknown / Museum of the City of New York. 33.45.

Aerial view of Philipsburg Manor

Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Historic Hudson Valley.

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