Prince Among Slaves: The True Story of an African Prince Sold Into Slavery in the USA

Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori (a.k.a. Abdul Rahman) was born in Timbo, West Africa (today’s Guinea).

He was a Fulbe from the land of Futa Jallon and his father was a wealthy king who sent him to study in Mali, Timbuktu in 1771.

Timbuktu is a city in Tombouctou Region, where the West African nation of Mali lives. It’s a home to the prestigious Sankore University which was an intellectual and spiritual center for propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th century.

Abdulrahman studied law and philosophy and when he completed his studies he returned to Futa, to participate in the daily activities of his father’s court.

Drawing of Abdul rahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori. Photo Credit
Drawing of Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori. Photo Credit

When Ibrahim returned to Futa, he became the leader of one of the army divisions of his father. From this point on, his troubles started. Around 1788, at the age of approximately 26, Ibrahim led one of his father’s army divisions in a battle. Unfortunately, he lost the battle and was taken in captivity by the rival tribe “Hebohs.”

He was subsequently sold to different slave traders until he ended up in the USA, in 1788. He was auctioned to Colonel Thomas Foster and became a field hand in his cotton plantation in Mississippi.

A cotton plantation on the Mississippi
A cotton plantation in Mississippi

Ibrahim knew everything about cultivating cotton and that helped him to rose an authoritative position on the plantation and later became the de facto foreman.

There he met Dr. John Cox who was previously saved by Ibrahim’s family after he fell sick and was stranded by his ship. Cox told this story to Forster and asked him to buy the Prince so he could help him return to Africa. Foster refused the offer since Ibrahim was one of his best and most valuable slaves.

In 1826, Ibrahim decided to write to the President and to the Secretary of the USA, so he copied the words of the Emperor of Morocco and the protector of the Moors, asking for enforcement of his rights pursuant to Articles 2, 6, 16 and 20 of the Treaty of Friendship between USA and Morocco, signed in 1776.

Abderrahman Ben Hicham, Sultan of Morocco
Abderrahman Ben Hicham, Sultan of Morocco

After the Sultan of Morocco read the letter, he asked President Adams and the Secretary of State Henry Clay to release Abrahim Abdul Rahman.

After 40 years, he was finally released and he made it to Africa but died before reaching his homeland.


Written by PH

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