Freedom and human rights

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Do you know what these objects are, and what the connection was between them?

Click on the images below to find out more

Slave shackle, 1807, People’s History Museum

See this object at People's History Museum

This item may not always be on display, please check with the venue before visiting

Shackles were used to control enslaved Africans when they were captured, marched to the coast and loaded in ships like cargo. Men remained chained in the holds of ships for journeys across the Atlantic of about six weeks.

Shackles were also used as a form of restraint and punishment on plantations in the Caribbean and America. Enslaved Africans often tried to escape and shackles, whips, guns and dogs were used to stop them.

This shackle was used in the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue where there were many sugar, tobacco and indigo plantations, and Africans were treated very badly. The western part of the island was originally called Haiti.
Haiti is unique as the only nation which gained independence as the result of a rebellion by enslaved Africans. The rebellion was led by Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean Jacques Dessalines. These two former enslaved Africans used their brilliant military and political leadership to defeat both the French and British armies. Independence was declared in 1804 and Saint-Domingue was once again called Haiti as the name for the new African-led nation.
The use of shackles and the brutal punishments for enslaved Africans were some of the most shocking aspects of slavery for abolitionist Europeans and Americans.