American Stories

Prince Among Slaves (film)
by Unity Productions Foundation


In 1788, the slave ship Africa set sail from West Africa, headed for the West Indies filled with a profitable but highly perishable cargo--hundreds of men, women, and children bound in chains. Six months later one of its human cargo, a twenty-six-year-old man named Abdul Rahman, was transported and sold in Natchez, Mississippi. According to legends that developed around Abdul Rahman in antebellum America, he made the remarkable claim to the farmer who purchased him at the auction that he was an "African prince"; and that his father would pay gold for his return. The offer was refused and Abdul Rahman did not return to Africa for another forty years. During his enslavement he toiled on the Foster plantation, married, and fathered nine children. His story also made him one the most famous Africans in America for a time, attracting the attention of powerful men such as Secretary of State Henry Clay.

After forty years of slavery, Abdul Rahman finally reclaimed his freedom, but he defied his former master"s demand that the federal government return him immediately to Africa, and instead traveled throughout the northern states, speaking to large audiences in a partially successful attempt to raise enough money to buy his children’s freedom. Finally at the age of sixty-seven, and after raising funds to free two of his children, Abdul Rahman returned to Africa, only to fall ill and die just as word of his arrival reached his former home of Futa Jallon in present-day Guinea.

Unity Productions Foundation, 2008

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"Muslim Journeys | Item #100: ", October 24, 2014 http://bridgingcultures.neh.gov/muslimjourneys/items/show/100.

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