What most people don’t know is that there are broken shackles and chains at the feet of the Statue of Liberty. These symbols of state-sponsored bondage and human cruelty remain there on the Statue of Liberty as a permanent reminder of the slaves that contributed to the building of the United States.
Because the height of the pedestal built to support the statue makes it impossible to see the chains and shackles from the ground, most people visiting Liberty Island remain unaware of them.
The connection between the Statue of Liberty and slavery was denied and hidden for 125 years.
The first British slave ship to reach the Americas, referred to as “The Good Ship Jesus” was, in fact, named the “Jesus of Lubeck,” a 700-ton ship sailing between 1562 and 1567.
Britain’s very first slave trader, John Hawkins, profited so greatly from the slave trade, that he caught the Queen’s attention. She donated the Jesus of Lubeck and another ship called the Minion, as an investment into Hawkins’ enterprise.
Hawkins had a reputation for being a religious man who required his crew to “serve God daily” and to love one another.
Sir Francis Drake accompanied Hawkins on this voyage and subsequent others. Drake, was himself, devoutly religious. Services were held on board twice a day.
Hawkins captured 300-500 slaves, mostly by plundering Portuguese ships, but also through violence and subterfuge promising Africans free land and riches in the new world.