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Olaudah Equiano: From Slavery to the Arctic

According to his 1789 autobiography, Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797) was born in what is now Nigeria. He was kidnapped as a child and taken to the New World, where he was sold into slavery.

Click me! As a slave to a captain in the Royal Navy, the young Olaudah was introduced to a seafaring life which provided new opportunities. He was taken to England, taught to read and write, and eventually earned the price of his freedom. He went on to become a radical reformer and a best-selling author.

Equiano travelled the world, and in 1773 he became the first black person to go to the Arctic when he joined Lord Mulgrave's famous expedition to find a passage to India across the North Pole.

One of the crew on that expedition was a young midshipman named Horatio Nelson, who would later become the great hero of the battle of the Nile and the battle of Trafalgar.

The Arctic journey was filled with danger (Nelson was almost killed in an encounter with a polar bear), and the ship that Equiano was on was almost lost. Nevertheless, the expedition was an exploration success as it clearly proved that a passage over the Pole was not practical.

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