You have now read Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government and explored Locke's account of natural rights and natural law, his theories of the state of nature, war and slavery. Now you are going to read the account of the life of a slave from the eighteenth century -- Olaudah Equiano.
Olaudah Equiano

Equiano's Travels was published during the period in which British abolitionists were struggling to end slavery in the British colonies. Equiano, as you will discover, succeeded in buying his own freedom. He went to England and joined the abolitionist movement. His book was a best seller for about forty years from 1790 to 1830 when the abolitionist movement finally was successful in abolishing slavery in the British colonies. After the success of the movement the book lapsed into obscurity until recencently republished.

As you read Equiano's Travels. You might consider these questions as you read:

  1. How does Equiano become a slave? (Given the way in which he was enslaved, would Locke regard him as legitimately enslaved?)
  2. What are the conditions of slavery in Africa which Equiano experiences?
  3. What were the conditions like on board the slave ship which transports Equiano to the Americas?
  4. What are the conditions of slavery like in the West Indies? (In what ways are these similar to and different from those in Africa?)
  5. Does Equiano discuss the condition of slavery? If so, in what ways (if any) does it remind you of Locke's account of slavery (legitmate or illegitimate)?

Later, you are going to asked to play the role of Equiano in a QuestWriter(TM) Communication Activity. So, I want you to take notes on those portions of the book which remind you in one way or another of Locke's Second Treatise so that you can give detailed and relevant answers from Equiano's point of view when you do the Communication Activity.