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By the 1820s the transatlantic slave trade was largely outlawed. Great Britain and the US were early adaptors of its abolition. France and Spain were still winking at it (largely to twit Britain). Brazil would not outlaw the trade until 1831. Regardless, transatlantic transportation of slaves illegally continued.
“The Black Joke: The True Story of One Ship’s Battle Against the Slave Trade,” by A.E. Rooks tells of a ship instrumental in closing down this illegal traffic. Never a formally-commissioned warship in the Royal Navy, it was the vessel of Britain’s West Africa Squadron most feared by slave traders.
Rooks carries the story from Black Joke’s incorporation into the Royal Navy in 1827 through its disposal a five years later. Its career was brief, but as Rooks shows, its impact was profound.