The Voyage of the Slave Ship Hare

A Journey into Captivity from Sierra Leone to South Carolina

By Sean M. Kelley

304 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 11 halftones, 3 maps, 12 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5476-8
    Published: August 2019
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2769-4
    Published: February 2016
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4984-7
    Published: February 2016

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From 1754 to 1755, the slave ship Hare completed a journey from Newport, Rhode Island, to Sierra Leone and back to the United States—a journey that transformed more than seventy Africans into commodities, condemning some to death and the rest to a life of bondage in North America. In this engaging narrative, Sean Kelley painstakingly reconstructs this tumultuous voyage, detailing everything from the identities of the captain and crew to their wild encounters with inclement weather, slave traders, and near-mutiny. But most importantly, Kelley tracks the cohort of slaves aboard the Hare from their purchase in Africa to their sale in South Carolina. In tracing their complete journey, Kelley provides rare insight into the communal lives of slaves and sheds new light on the African diaspora and its influence on the formation of African American culture.

In this immersive exploration, Kelley connects the story of enslaved people in the United States to their origins in Africa as never before. Told uniquely from the perspective of one particular voyage, this book brings a slave ship’s journey to life, giving us one of the clearest views of the eighteenth-century slave trade.

About the Author

Sean M. Kelley is senior lecturer in history at the University of Essex.
For more information about Sean M. Kelley, visit the Author Page.


“Offers readers a devastating picture of the practices that ravaged West African societies while forming the foundation of colonial America’s economy.”--Publishers Weekly

"An important book that not only shows how the slave trade operated, but also provides a clearer picture of the victims' origins, language, and methods of survival."--Kirkus Reviews

“Kelley’s extensive research and use of deductive reasoning has crafted a remarkably detailed narrative of the voyage from beginning to end. . . . Very strongly recommended.”--Civil War News

“A well-researched account of a slave ship that highlights the larger experience of those involved in the transatlantic slave trade. Recommended.”--CHOICE

“Performs a feat of historical forensics. . . . Tells the story of [the enslaved peoples'] voyage on the Hare and recovers their identities as people, not just slaves.”--Zócalo Public Square

“Possibly the best book on a single slave voyage. . . . Paints on a human scale the larger picture of forced Atlantic passages. . . . Provides rich details about how the slave sale took place and who the purchasers were.”--William and Mary Quarterly