Unknown artist

Plan of the Slave Ship Brooks, ca. 1850

London: Day & Son
New-York Historical Society Library, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections

Constructed in Liverpool in 1781, the Brooks made slave voyages between Africa and Kingston, Jamaica, throughout the 1780s. In an attempt to improve the utterly horrendous conditions aboard slaving vessels, Parliament in 1788 regulated how many slaves could be carried by ships of certain sizes. Detailed measured drawings showed how men, women, and children were jammed together elbow to elbow, and head to toe. Printed descriptions of the Brooks were used by abolitionists to demonstrate the inhumane treatment of slaves. The new regulations limited the Brooks to a maximum capacity of 292 slaves as compared to a cargo of 740 on one of its previous voyages.