Paul Erdmann
Reise nach Guinea und den Caribäischen Inseln in Columbien, in Briefen an seine Freunde beschriben
J. F. Morthorst
Reize van Koppenhagen naar Guinea, en van daar naar de Westindien en de Caribische Eilanden in Amerika (Amsterdam: 1797). Dutch. Voyages en Guinée et dans les îles Caraïbes en Amérique (Paris: Chez Maradan & Hachette, 1793). French. Bref om Guineakusten och Caraibiske Øarne (Stockholm: 1795). Swedish.
Travel Writings
Kongelige Bibliotek, Danmark. Bibliothèque Nationale de France. British Library.
Travel Guinea Caribbean Islands America Letters Slave Trade West Indies French Danish Colonies Africa Ship Revolt
Paul Isert was employed as a scientist and chief medic in the Danish colony of Christiansborg, West Africa. He also travelled to the Caribbean as a slave ship doctor in 1786, and was wounded during a slave revolt on board. Isert's Travels in Guinea and the Caribbean Islands was intended to be an anthropological study of the peoples of Africa and the Caribbean. In this collection of letters, Isert describes his voyage from Copenhagen to West Africa, and his observations there. He then recounts travelling to the Caribbean on board a crowded slave ship, describing rumours of American cruelty that were rife among the enslaved, desperate attempts to escape or commit suicide, and plots to kill the sailors and take control of the ship. The final letter describes the Danish and French Caribbean colonies, and his shock at the high mortality rates and cruel punishment of the slaves there. His suggested solution is to establish plantations in Africa with indentured labour, and thereby put an end to the middle passage.
A sequel was published in 1790, in Berlin and Leipzig. The title of this second volume stresses the text's importance as a source of up-to-date information on the slave trade: Paul Isert, Neue Reise nach Guinea und den Caribäischen Inseln in Amerika in den Jahren 1783 bis 1787, nebst Nachrichten von dem Negerhandel in Afrika (Berlin & Leipzig, 1790).