James Riley Writer

James Riley (1777, Middletown, Conn. – 1840 at sea) was the Captain of the United States merchant ship Commerce. Riley led his crew through the Sahara Desert after they were shipwrecked off the coast of Western Sahara in August 1815, and wrote a book on their ordeal detailing his memoirs. The book was published in 1817 and was originally titled "Authentic Narrative of the Loss of the American Brig Commerce" by the "Late Master and Supercargo" James Riley, modernly republished as Sufferings in Africa, ISBN 1-59048-108-9. It struck the nineteenth century reader because it was a startling switch on the then not usual master-slave relationship, which was white owners and black slaves. This true story describes how they came to be shipwrecked, and their travails in the Sahara Desert. Lost in this unknown world, Captain Riley felt responsible for his crew and their safety. He told of the events leading to their capture by marauding Sahrawi natives who kept them as slaves. Horribly mistreated, they were beaten, sun-burnt, starved, and forced to drink their own and camel urine. A slave would be worked until close to death, and then either traded or killed.

Personal details

Date of birth
United States of America
Date of death
1840 at age of 63

Written work

1.Sufferings in Africa: The Incredible True Story of a Shipwreck, Enslavement, and Survival on the Sahara

Editions Subjects Co-authors
1817. at Hartford
1818. at New York City
1965. by Clarkson Potter
2007. by Skyhorse Publishing
William Willshire
James Riley
Description and travel


Check James Riley on wikipedia.

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