An Authentic Narrative of the Loss of the American Brig Commerce
By Captain James Riley. The incredible true story of an American ship’s crew taken into slavery by Arab slave traders of northwestern Africa after being wrecked on that continent’s west coast, has riveted, fascinated and horrified readers since its first publication 200 years ago.
Captain Riley’s ship, the Commerce, was sailing from Gibraltar to the Cape Verde Islands when it was lost in fog and wrecked off the coast of the Sahara.
There, they were seized by passing Berbers who seized the men, as was their custom, and took them deep into the blazing, nearly waterless Sahara desert.
The book tells in shocking detail the events before and after their capture by these marauding Sahrawi Muslims, and their endless mistreatment, which included beatings, heat exposure and starvation (one of Riley’s men lost 100 pounds).
Captain Riley’s detailed and fascinating descriptions of his experiences mirrored that suffered by more than a million Europeans who were captured by the Barbary pirates. This valuable account recounts a part of history that is now suppressed or ignored.
This account of slavery and death was so influential that Abe Lincoln included it in his 1860 campaign biography.
Softcover, 352 pages