a chilling testament. Fifty Days on Board A Slave Vessel is his unforgettable account of life on a slave ship. Hill’s narrative locks fifty days into an existence of forever. It is a forever that haunts, not from the fear of the unknown, but the fear of the known.
Because of Hill and Fifty Days we can know. At the relatively safe distance of more than one hundred years away from Hill’s time we know, as he did, the extended suffering of enslaved Africans. We know and hear the “shrieks of the sufferers through the gloom of night, rising above the noise of the winds and waves.” We know, see and reach across generations to feel the lash of the whip—punishment meted out for daring to “steal” water. Serving as a doctor on board the ship, Hill recorded these acts and more in his journal of the voyage.
It is predictable that readers will feel discomfort and pain as they read this book. It must be kept in mind that Fifty Days was written to support the crusade against slavery. Our pain is our connection with the crusade. It is also our connection with the millions of enslaved Africans who suffered the great rape of personhood. They are not forgotten.