Book Review: SPIRITS OF THE PASSAGE (Madeleine Burnside) : AH

8/11/2001 • American History Reviews, Thirteenth Amendment

SPIRITS OF PASSAGE, by Madeleine Burnside, Simon & Schuster, $35.

“The fact is,” says the editor of this richly illustrated book, “Control and abuse and betrayal and anguish existed on all sides of the transatlantic slave trade. . . . [T]his book will endeavor to tell the story of the slave trade from all perspectives: African and European and American, through the experiences of both enslaver and enslaved.” The story unfolds through the annals of the recently discovered wreck of the English-owned slave ship Henrietta Marie, which sailed from Europe to Africa and the New World before sinking off the coast of Florida in 1700. With the aid of shipping returns, sale notices, anecdotes, and period illustrations, as well as artifacts recovered from the sunken vessel during the 1980s, Burnside documents the tragic tale of the largest forced migration in human history, which began with the Portuguese import of African slaves into the colony of Madeira in 1444 and ended in 1865 with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.