Maroons of the Great Dismal Swamp

Before the American Revolutionary War, slavery was legal in all thirteen colonies. There were no slave states and free states, no Mason-Dixon line that people fleeing slavery could cross and find freedom. Still, there were places you could go: English Florida to live among the Seminoles, a big city to lose yourself in the crowd, […]

Retaking the Ship from Confederate Pirates

In July, 1861, the U.S. merchant sailing vessel S.J. Waring was seized by Confederate pirates. William Tillman, a black man and the ship’s cook and steward, learned the pirates intended to seize him too and sell him into slavery in the Confederacy. Tillman was not going to let that happen. He spent nine days quietly […]

Pangani: A Pile of Conflicts Exploding in Revolt

In 1888, the Swahili coast of what is today Tanzania rose up in revolt against the Sultanate of Zanzibar, triggered by the arrogance of the sultan’s new German ‘friends’. The revolt was particularly memorable at the trading town of Pangani. But while German shortsightedness may have provided the instigating incident, Pangani had been moving towards […]

Andrew Battel: Pirate, Convict, Merchant, and Mercenary

Andrew Battel was a failed English pirate. Captured by his intended victims, he was forced into convict labor by Portuguese colonial officials in Angola, Africa. He then went on to a varied career as a Portuguese soldier, a weird sort of half-merchant-half-mercenary dude, a minor warchief, a soldier again, and finally a deserter. His and […]

Family Strife and Secret Language in the Fall of Gao

The Epic of Askia Muhammad recounts many important events in the history of the Songhai people of Niger and Mali. It’s a long song – it takes hours to sing – and it has sections in multiple languages. Among other stories, it tells the tale of a terrible turmoil in a Songhai noble family and how this […]

Judah P. Benjamin

Once a month here on the Molten Sulfur Blog, I run content taken from our book Archive: Historical People, Places, and Events for RPGs. This post is one of eighty entries in Archive, each more gameable than the last! This post is brought to you by beloved Patreon backer Joel Dalenberg. Thanks for helping keep […]

The Wreck of the Convict Ship ‘George III’

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Madame Chouteau’s Clever Frontier Inheritance

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The Rubber-Cutters’ Outdoor Disease Dungeon

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The Lies of Leopold

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The Wreck of the Ma’adin Ijafen

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Valladolid in the 1840s

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Making the Enslaved Come Alive

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The State of Muskogee

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Kunstkamera

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