Pioneer Slave Trader Who Deceived Africans With Jesus Salvation And Lured Them On His Jesus Ship William Hawkins

Pioneer Slave Trader Who Deceived Africans With Jesus’ Salvation And Lured Them On His ‘Jesus’ Ship – William Hawkins

According to history, Juan de Córdoba of Seville was the first merchant to send an African slave to the New World in 1502. The Spanish authorities only allowed merchants to sell one to three enslaved Africans because the slave trade was still in its early stages.

By 1504, a small group of Africans, most likely slaves, had found their way to King James IV of Scotland’s court after being taken from a Portuguese ship.

When the English began the slave trade in 1562, 60 years after the Spanish, they quickly expanded the human trade, wreaking havoc on the Africans.

In October of 1562, John Hawkins of Plymouth became the first English sailor to be known to have obtained African slaves for sale in the West Indies — around 300 in Sierra Leone.

Hawkins sold the slaves to Spanish colonies illegally, but the journey was profitable and more followed. As a result, tensions between England and Spain had risen.

Jesus of Lubeck
Jesus Of Lubeck

William Hawkins, John Hawkins’ father, was an ambitious trader who ventured out to explore the Guinea coast in quest of commercial resources such as dyewoods in the 1530s, making the first English trips to West Africa.

Hawkins seized 300-500 Africans in Sierra Leone after sailing to the Gulf of Guinea and plundering Portuguese ships. He also employed violence and deception, offering free land and riches in the new world to Africans.

In what is now the Dominican Republic, he sold the majority of the slaves. He went home with a profit and ships full of ivory, skins, and sugar, launching the English slave trade.

Hawkins, who claimed to be a pious Christian and missionary, is said to have discovered the Sierra Leoneans gathering their crops.

He then proceeded to tell the locals about a god named Jesus, before asking who among them desired Jesus to be their savior. Hundreds of people who raised their hands were then escorted to his ship, the “Jesus of Lubeck,” also known as “The Good Ship Jesus,” on the shore.

Urging the Africans to board the ship for salvation, those who did found themselves unable to disembark as the ship sailed, and were eventually sold to Hawkins’ fellow slave traders in the West Indies.

It’s important to remember that King Henry VIII bought the 700-ton ship, then Queen Elizabeth gave it to Hawkins 20 years later, essentially approving the slave trade and demonstrating that English involvement in the slave trade was sanctioned at the highest level.

Hawkins, oddly enough, had a reputation for being a devout Christian who expected his team to “serve God daily” and love one another. Despite the abduction, detention, and sale of Africans against their will for profit, services were held twice a day onboard.

Sir Francis Drake, Hawkins’ cousin, accompanied him on his 1562 journey and others. Drake was also said to be a fervent Christian.

Hawkins and his cousin Francis Drake enslaved between 1,200 and 1,400 Africans on three expeditions to Guinea and Sierra Leone between 1562 and 1567.

John Hawkins Crest
John Hawkins Crest

These men, women, and children would have included some of the brightest, fittest, and strongest individuals the two states would have required to develop and become powerful.

A loss that accounts for one of the high expenses African countries have paid, not to mention the deaths of those who fought back ruthlessly, those who drowned while fleeing, and others who were simply beaten or clobbered to death.

With the slave trade proving to be more profitable than plantations, Hawkins embarked on a slave-trading journey that took him to the West African coast, where he kidnapped villages with the help of other corrupted African natives. He’d next cross the Atlantic and sell his cargo alongside that of others to the Spanish.

Hawkins made so much money selling slaves that Queen Elizabeth I bestowed upon him a special coat of arms. Following the destruction of the Spanish Armada, he was named Treasurer of the Navy in 1577 and knighted in 1588 by Lord High Admiral Charles Howard.

Hawkins’ slave trade ended in 1567, not because of repentance or volition, but because his fleet, which included a ship commanded by Francis Drake, sought refuge in the Gulf of Mexico during a hurricane. Many of his soldiers were killed in the battle with the Spaniards.

Hawkins was able to flee on one ship while Drake was able to flee in another. On the expedition, he lost 325 soldiers, depleting his logistics and human resources despite making a profit.

Hawkins went to the West Indies with his second cousin, Sir Francis Drake, on a treasure-hunting expedition in 1595. They attempted two attacks on San Juan, Puerto Rico, but were unable to overcome the city’s defenses.

During the cruise, they both fell sick. Hawkins died in 1595 and was buried at sea off the coast of Puerto Rico. On January 27, Drake died of an illness, most likely dysentery, and was buried at sea off the coast of Portobelo, Panama. Hawkins’ son, Sir Richard Hawkins, took over as his successor.

Despite the fact that England abolished slavery in 1772, the slave trade continued in the colonies after Hawkins and far into the nineteenth century.

Hawkins has a number of public monuments in Plymouth, notably the Sir John Hawkins Square, which casts doubt on assertions by enslaving states and people that they regret the slave trade.

Thousands of Africans slaughtered and enslaved by Hawkins and Drake, as well as the millions who died in the years that followed, have no monuments constructed in their honor, and there is no talk of reparation or financial aid for African states afflicted by such heinous deeds.

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