The Impact of Olaudah Equiano’s Influence and Career on America and the World
Olaudah Equiano, a former slave, has had a significant impact on both America and the global stage. His writings document the horrific experiences he endured as a slave, forever changing history. His life can be divided into two parts: his time in bondage and his life as a free man. Throughout his career, Equiano actively fought against the slave trade and played an instrumental role in its abolition. One of his notable literary works, The Interesting Narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, had a devastating effect on the continuation of slavery.
Olaudah Equiano, a remarkable individual, traveled extensively across countries to sell his book and promote the abolition movement. In addition, he wrote numerous letters and documents with the aim of enlightening people about the brutal reality of slavery. Equiano’s efforts were instrumental in educating the world about the importance of opposing slavery and its associated cruelty. His impact was significant during his lifetime and even after his death, as his book and legacy continued to contribute to the eventual eradication of slavery. Equiano’s life took a drastic turn when raiders invaded his residence, forcibly capturing him and selling him into slavery.
Olaudah’s world was engulfed in darkness and suffering when he was transported as a slave on a ship across the oceans. In his Narrative, he described how the intense heat and climate, along with overcrowded conditions, made it almost suffocating for him and others aboard the ship (Equiano, Olaudah). These traumatic memories allowed him to passionately appeal to righteous individuals to abolish slavery in both the old and new worlds. After being sold in America, Olaudah was continuously passed from one owner to another until he eventually ended up under the custody of his final owner, Robert King, who happened to be a Quaker merchant.
Equiano’s hard work for 20 years paid off when Robert King generously gave him money, leading to his freedom. With his newfound liberty, Equiano embarked on a journey throughout the new world, gaining knowledge and experience along the way. His time as a slave and extensive travels allowed him to captivate many hearts. Equiano made history as the first American slave to write an autobiography documenting his experiences (Horton, James O., and Lois E. Horton, 1). This Narrative was published in 1789. Several factors in Equiano’s life contributed to his development as an exceptional writer, including Michael Pascal, one of his owners, who taught him how to read and write.
His book, which is widely considered the definitive work on slavery, achieved global fame. Given its impact on former slave owners and slavery advocates, it must have been an extraordinary piece of literature. Equiano took on the task of marketing his book across Europe, undertaking challenging tours that spanned oceans and lands. Despite the difficulties, his unwavering determination led to considerable success in influencing the British Parliament. Thomas Clarkson also played a pivotal role in promoting Equiano’s book.
Equiano’s letter to Thomas Clarkson recounted his experience in Ireland, where he managed to sell an impressive 1900 copies of his narrative. This demonstrates Equiano’s determination and the increasing impact he had. (source: abolition. e2bn. org. ) Equiano’s book acted as a powerful tool in challenging the supporters of the abhorrent slave trade and the horrific “middle passage”. The influence of Olaudah reached far and wide, both during his time and long after. His Narrative provided a compelling depiction of the cruelty of slavery and presented compelling arguments against it. (source: norfolkblackhistorymonth. org).
Equiano’s Narrative was a powerful catalyst for change in England. Its vivid descriptions stirred a moral awakening among the nobles, prompting them to recognize their duty to end the atrocities of slavery. Equiano’s primary objective was to urge the British Parliament to take action against slave ships and plantations. Despite starting his life as a destitute slave, Equiano proved himself to be a wealthy and highly intelligent free man. He shattered the stereotype of savagery, demonstrating his ability to shape the course of history. Although he sold thousands of books during his lifetime, it was in his death that the world truly began to transform. Alongside William Wilberforce and other abolitionists, Equiano fought tirelessly to dismantle the institution of slavery.
After his death, the world underwent a positive transformation as England banned the presence of slave ships. This landmark decision had a ripple effect worldwide, prompting numerous other countries, including the United States of America, to abolish slavery. According to norfolkblackhistorymonth.org, Equiano’s remarkable display of moral superiority and lack of bitterness or anger towards his oppressors demonstrated the immense potential of the human spirit. Through his actions and treatment of others, he proved the validity of his beliefs. Even in death, Equiano’s spirit continued to inspire and drive the abolition movements.
Olaudah Equiano not only transformed the moral values of the world in general, but also revolutionized how slaves themselves resisted slavery. He had a profound influence on the entire genre of slave literature, serving as an inspiring example for slaves to combat their enslavement through language. Equiano’s legacy endures today, testifying to the injustice of slavery and proving that a black man can possess intellect equal to, and sometimes surpassing, white men. Once forcibly stripped of his identity and sold into slavery as a young African boy, Equiano emerged as a heroic figure in the fight against slavery. Olaudah Equiano stands as one of history’s most influential leaders.
Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself. London: Printed For, and Sold by the Author; & G. G. J. & J. Robinson; and by Charles Stalker, 1793. Print. Horton, James O., and Lois E. Horton. “The African Roots of Colonial America.” Slavery and the Making of America.
Despite choosing not to give up and obtaining freedom from slave ships and their owners, Equiano became a prominent advocate in fighting against slavery and promoting its abolition through his firsthand experience as a slave. His detailed accounts of his distressing past played a significant role in shaping the future.
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