john gabriel stedman


The Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam
by John Gabriel Stedman, 1796:

1.) A map of Surinam, from the original edition
2.) Stedman’s wife Joanna
3.) Arowak Woman
4.) Europe Supported by Africa and America by William Blake
5.) Execution of Breaking on the Rack
6.) Female Quadroon, Slave of Surinam
7.) Flagellation of a Female Samboc Slave
8.) Negro Hung Alive by the Ribs to a Gallows by William Blake
9.) A Coromantyn Free Negro, or Ranger, Armed
10.) A Private Marine of Col. Fourgeoud’s Corps

John Gabriel Stedman was a distinguished British–Dutch soldier who was sent by the Dutch government to its colony of Surniam to quell a large slave uprising. His years in Surinam, on the northern coast of South America, were characterized by encounters with African slaves and colonial planters, as well as the exotic local flora and fauna. Stedman contrasts the beauty and sweetness of the colony with his first taste of the violence and cruelty endemic there. On shore is a nearly naked slave woman, chained to an iron weight. The woman received 200 lashes and carried the weight for a month as a result of her inability to fulfill a task to which she was assigned. Stedman observes her suffering with disbelief and fascination. Over the course of his Narrative, Stedman relays several stories regarding the wretched state of the slaves and the horrors to which they are subjected. In one story, involving a group sailing by boat, an enslaved mother was ordered by her mistress to hand over her crying baby. The mistress then threw the baby into the river, drowning it. The mother jumped into the river after her baby, whose body was recovered by fellow slaves. The mother later received 200 lashes for her defiant behavior. In another story, a small boy shoots himself in the head to escape flogging. In yet another, a man is completely “broken on the rock” and left for days to suffer until he died. With these firsthand depictions of slavery and other aspects of colonization, Stedman’s Narrative became an important tool in the early abolitionist cause.