National Archives at Philadelphia

Manifests of the Schooner Phoebe and Schooner Prudence

These documents are the August 22, 1800, manifests of the schooner Phoebe and schooner Prudence. The Phoebe and Prudence were carrying 135 African men, women, and children bound for enslavement in the United States when they were taken as prize off the coast of Cuba by the USS Ganges, based out of Philadelphia. Congress passed legislation in 1794 prohibiting American citizens from outfitting a vessel involved in the international slave trade and from buying or selling enslaved persons at foreign ports. In addition, an 1800 act empowered American naval vessels to take suspected American ships transporting human cargo from Africa as prize.

The Ganges returned to the Port of Philadelphia with both vessels and soon after Judge Richard Peters of the U.S. District Court for the District of Pennsylvania determined that the individuals aboard the vessels were free. As a result, the members of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society prepared indentures for the formerly enslaved individuals for terms ending at the ages of 18 (females) and 21 (males). The indentures, held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, indicate that the individuals all took the surname Ganges, after the naval vessel that was responsible for their arrival at Philadelphia. Many of the Ganges descendants still live in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties.

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Manifest of the Schooner Phoebe, dated August 22, 1800. National Archives Identifier: 124218304

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Manifest of Schooner Prudence, dated August 22, 1800. National Archives Identifier: 124218305

View and download the manifests of the vessels Phoebe and Prudence on the National Archives Catalog. You can explore more records held in the National Archives at Philadelphia through the National Archives Catalog or by visiting the National Archives at Philadelphia. These records are located in Record Group 36: Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Series: Manifests for the Port of Philadelphia.