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The squadron never had more than five vessels assigned to it until 1859 and....few of the vessels had first-class sailors, or were suited to the task assigned. __________________ Source: George E. Brooks, Yankee Traders, Old Coasters and African Middlemen: A History of American Legitimate Trade with West Africa in the 19th Century, (Boston, 1970), pp. 116-118.
OMAR IBN SEID: FROM SENEGAL TO NORTH CAROLINAThe autobiography of Omar ibn Seid, a North Carolina slave in 1831, undermines the slaveholders often repeated argument that African slaves had no knowledge of civilization before being brought to the New World. Seid, a member of the Fula nation in what is now Senegal was born in 1770 and raised as a Muslim. After being educated in Arabic and mathematics by his uncle, he became a merchant dealing primarily in cotton cloth. Captured and sold into slavery in South Carolina, he escaped and was later arrested in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1831. While in jail he began writing on the walls of his cell in Arabic which brought him to the attention of General James Owen who purchased him. Unlike Equiano, ibn Seid never gained his freedom, and eventually converted to Christianity. But before his conversion he wrote his autobiography in Arabic. Part of it is reprinted below. __________________________________________________________________________ In the name of God, the merciful, the gracious. --God grant his blessing upon our Prophet Mohammed. Blessed be He in whose hands is the kingdom and who is Almighty; who created death and life that he might test you; for he is exalted; he is the forgiver (of sins), who created seven heavens one above the other....You asked me to write my life. I am not able to do this because I have much forgotten my own, as well as the Arabic language. Neither can I write very grammatically or according to the true idiom. And so, my brother, I beg you, in God's name, not to blame me, for I am a man of weak eyes, and of a weak body. My name is Omar ibn Seid. My birthplace was Fut Tur, between the two rivers. I sought knowledge under the instruction of a Sheikh called Mohammed Seid, my own brother, and Sheikh Soleiman Kembeh, and Sheikh Gabriel Abdal. I continued my studies twenty-five years, and then returned to my home where I remained six years. Then there came to our place a large army, who killed many men, and took me, and brought me to the great sea, and sold me into the hands of the Christians, who bound me and sent me on board a great ship and we sailed upon the great sea a month and a half, where we came to a place called Charleston in the Christian language. There they sold me to a small, weak, and wicked man, called Johnson, a complete infidel, who had not fear of God at all. Now I am a small man, and unable to do hard work so I fled from the hand of Johnson and after a month came to a place called Fayd-il [Fayetteville] There I saw some great houses (churches). On the new moon I went into a church to pray. A lad saw me and rode off to the place of his father and informed him that he had seen a black man in the church. A man named Handah (Hunter?) and another man with him on horseback, came attended by a troop of dogs.