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Amulet containing passages from the Qur’an, worn by Muslim slaves who rioted in Bahia, Brazil  

João José Reis

Although slavery was not abolished in Brazil until 1888, slave revolts were frequent and remarkable for their ambitions, success, and diversity of participating elements. Two urban revolts ... More

“An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”  

John Locke

John Locke (1632–1704), the noted English philosopher, scientist, and political theorist, was one of the leading intellectuals of his age and one of the most influential architects of the ... More

“Criticisn of Imperialism,” Imperialism  

John A. Hobson

John Atkinson Hobson (1858–1940) grew up during an economic depression in England that ultimately shifted his intellectual interests from literature to economics. One of his major ... More

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen  

Committee

Like the American Declaration, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a stirring statement of Enlightenment principles concerning both the individual’s role in the state ... More

The Declaration of the Rights of Woman  

Olympe de Gouges

Women were not included among the new officeholders of Revolutionary France, nor were they members of the National Assembly, which supposedly represented all members of the country’s Third ... More

Documents Concerning the Slave Ship Sally, Rhode Island  

Anonymous

Rhode Islanders were the principal American slave traders during the eighteenth century, during which a total of approximately 1,000 slave-trading voyages set out from the colony to Africa. ... More

The General HIstory of New Spain  

Bernardino de Sahagún

The document included here contains descriptions of the monumental and agonizing events of the Spanish conquest of Mexico from the Aztec perspective. It was compiled at the behest and under ... More

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano  

Olaudah Equiano

This autobiography of a slave who would emerge as a leading voice in the abolitionist cause has been enormously significant for understanding Atlantic slavery. Equiano claimed to have been ... More

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano  

In 1789, Olaudah Equiano published his autobiography, titled The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African, written by himself. The title is most ... More

Letter of Nzinga Mbemba (Afonso I) of Kongo to the King of Portugal  

Nzinga Mbemba (Afonso I)

A Portuguese sailor came into contact with the Kingdom of Kongo, which occupied a vast territory along the Congo River in central Africa, in 1483. When he returned in 1491, he was ... More

Letter to the Rev. H. Venn  

Samuel Crowther

In 1807 most of the countries involved in the centuries-long Atlantic slave trade signed an international agreement to abolish the shipments of Africans to the western hemisphere. The ... More

Liberian Independence Day Address  

Wilmot Blyden

A prominent Liberian, West African, and pan-African figure, Edward Wilmot Blyden advocated for the rights and abilities of Africans (and people of African descent) to govern themselves. ... More

Reflections on the Revolution in France  

Edmund Burke

Born in Dublin to a Protestant father and a Catholic mother, Edmund Burke (1729–1797) struggled to build a political career in Georgian England. Having established a reputation for ... More

Rights of Man  

Thomas Paine

As a young man in England, Thomas Paine worked a series of low-paying, menial jobs, from most of which he was quickly fired, being perceived as an uncooperative “troublemaker.” In 1774, at ... More

The Slaving Voyage of the Albion-Frigate  

Jacques Barbot

Jacques Barbot (also known as James Barbot) was born around 1650 to a Protestant family in Saint-Martin on the Ile de Re, near the French seaport of La Rochelle. Little is known about his ... More

“The Jamaica Letter”  

Simón Bolívar

Simón Bolívar (1783–1830), the eventual liberator of northern South America from Spanish control, was born in Venezuela but profoundly influenced by the culture of peninsular Spain and the ... More

“Torture,” from the Philosophical Dictionary  

Voltaire

Voltaire (the pen name of François-Marie Arouet) epitomized the Enlightenment. His Dictionnaire philosophique (Philosophical Dictionary), the first edition of which appeared in 1764, ... More

Travels in the United States in 1847  

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento

The journalist and eventual Argentine president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811–1888) is most famous today for his novel Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism (1845), a sharp and daring ... More

The True History of the Conquest of New Spain  

Bernal Díaz del Castillo

The best Spanish source on the Aztec–Spanish encounter was written by Bernal Díaz del Castillo, an old campaigner from Cortés’s army. Born and raised in a poor family in Spain, Díaz began ... More

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights  

United Nations General Assembly

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, was one of the most significant and lasting results of the Second World War. ... More

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