Early Caribbean Slave Narratives
University of Michigan
The Narrative of Cudjoe (1793): A Scholarly Introduction
By: William Bond.
The narrative of “Cudjoe” appears alongside another embedded narrative, “Clara,” in a footnote to Bryan Edwards's 1793 The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies. The entire footnote can be found on pages 62-4 in Book IV, Chapter III of The History. Cudjoe’s narrative begins in the second paragraph of the footnote on page 63, immediately following Clara’s narrative. Similar to the account offered by Clara to Edwards, Cudjoe’s narrative is retold as an oral history taken down by Edwards. Edwards’ summary of this verbal encounter follows the events of Cudjoe’s initial enslavement “in the kingdom of Asiantee” and his being brought to Jamaica. It is said that Cudjoe related how he was first enslaved at sixteen as a means of “pay[ing] a fine” on behalf of his older brother, who had an affair with the wife of a man named Quashee. Cudjoe was then sold to a “slave-merchant” and “carried...to the sea-coast,” where he was finally purchased by “a Captain Reeder” and brought across the Atlantic to Jamaica. Responding to Edward’s inquiries into practices of enslavement in his home country, Cudjoe explains that as his father had died, his brother had the “power” to sell him into slavery. The narrative also includes statements about the status and treatment of enslaved persons under the Asiantee king.
For further reading, please see Clara's “Narrative of Clara” and Edwards’ History, Civil and Commercial, 1793.
Dierksheide, Christa. Amelioration and Empire: Progress and Slavery in the Plantation Americas (Jeffersonian America). University of Virginia Press, 2014.
Paugh, Katherine. “Yaws, Syphilis, Sexuality, and the Circulation of Medical Knowledge in the British Caribbean and the Atlantic World.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine. Vol. 88, No. 2, 2014.
Pope-Hennessy, James. Sins of the Fathers: A Study of the Atlantic Slave Traders 1441-1807. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968.
Rucker, Walter C. Gold Coast Diasporas: Identity, Culture, and Power. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2015.
How to cite this scholarly introduction:
William, Bond. “The Narrative of Cudjoe (1793): A Scholarly Introduction." The Early Caribbean Digital Archive. Boston: Northeastern University Digital Repository Service, 2015.