Join Abolitionist Richard Henry Dana, as he explores Spanish Cuba of 1859, where kidnapped Black Africans were slaves on vast sugar plantations, along with impoverished Chinese Coolies, suffering under unbreakable eight- year contracts.
Dana visited Cuba on a fact finding mission he calls a “vacation voyage.” He describes Cuban slavery, explores Cuban society, institutions, educational systems and exposes a corrupt prison system, where the more a prisoner pays, the less he is punished.
In 1859, slavery was still legal in the United States and flourished throughout the Southern States. Because of Cuba’s close proximity to the United States, some slave holders felt it could be a natural extension of the American southern slave states.
A few years earlier the Ostend Manifesto was proposed under which American slave states attempted to have the United States purchase Cuba from Spain for $30 million dollars. Their idea was to expand slavery to beyond the boundary of the US. The plan was not successful.
So when Dana took his vacation, he was well aware that Cuba was a place where United States interests attempted to sustain slavery and that he was entering territory with slave practices that were abhorrent to him.
Senator John Slidell launched another attempt to annex Cuba to the United States for $30 million. It was being debated in Congress during the time Dana was sailing. As Dana later recounted in his narrative, the attempt to purchase of Cuba by the United States failed.
In November, a year later, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States, and one year after that, the American civil war began. The war resulted in the end of slavery in the United States…but not in Cuba, which was still owned by Spain.
Slavery in Cuba was slightly different than slavery in the United States. It was possible for a slave to purchase him or herself from the Master. Under some circumstances, a slave could purchase a percentage of himself and begin working off his unsold percentage.
Richard Henry Dana was an American Abolitionist and a public-spirited lawyer, who represented fugitive slaves without charge. He was also the author of “Two Years Before the Mast,” which exposed brutal practices aboard merchant ships and changed maritime law.
This audiobook was read by Andre Stojka. This is a recording of the original book, published in 1860, with added sound effects and a new Afterward.
Read by Andre Stojka
Andre Stojka, known for his rich characterizations and his creative interpretation of the written word, has been a major voice over actor for over 30 years. Some of his best known voices are the Owl in Disney’s Winnie the Pooh movies and videos, the voice of Ernie Keebler, the Keebler Cookie Elf, the King in Disney’s Cinderella videos and Starlight in the Rainbow Bright television series.