Mungo Park was never against slavery but Travels to the Interiors of Africa, published in 1799, did inspire the anti-slavery movement.
Park left for Africa on 22nd May 1795. He arrived in Pisania on the Gambia River in July. Soon after arriving he developed malaria and he spent the next five months in the house of Dr John Laidley, a long-established slave-trader. After his recovery, accompanied by two slaves, Park began to explore the area. He encountered the Mandingo tribe that were part of the Mali Empire. "The Mandingoes, generally speaking, are of a mild, sociable, and obliging disposition. The men are commonly above the middle size, well shaped, strong, and capable of enduring great labour; the women are good-natured, sprightly, and agreeable. The dress of both sexes is composed of cotton cloth, of their own manufacture; that of the men is a loose frock, not unlike a surplice, with drawers which reach half way down the leg; and they wear sandals on their feet, and white cotton caps on their heads. The women's dress consists of two pieces of cloth, each of which they wrap round the waist, which, hanging down to the ankles, answers the purpose of a petticoat: the other is thrown negligently over the bosom and shoulders."
Most of the people he encountered were slaves: "I suppose, not more than one-fourth part of the inhabitants at large; the other three-fourths are in a state of hopeless and hereditary slavery; and are employed in cultivating the land, in the care of cattle, and in servile offices of all kinds, much in the same manner as the slaves in the West Indies. I was told, however, that the Mandingo master can neither deprive his slave of life, nor sell him to a stranger, without first calling a palaver on his conduct; or, in other words, bringing him to a public trial; but this degree of protection is extended only to the native of domestic slave. Captives taken in war, and those unfortunate victims who are condemned to slavery for crimes or insolvency, and, in short, all those unhappy people who are brought down from the interior countries for sale, have no security whatever, but may be treated and disposed of in all respects as the owner thinks proper. It sometimes happens, indeed, when no ships are on the coast, that a humane and considerate master incorporates his purchased slaves among his domestics; and their offspring at least, if not the parents, become entitled to all the privileges of the native class."
He commented in his journal: "And although the African mode of living was at first unpleasant to me, yet I found, at length, that custom surmounted trifling inconveniences, and made everything palatable and easy." By the end of the year Park had covered over 300 miles, and reached the Bambara state of Kaarta. Soon afterwards he was captured by the Moors. He was held for three months before being allowed to continue his journey.
Park, who had lost his two slaves, continued his search for the Niger River. He eventually reached it at Ségou. He wrote in his journal: "I saw with infinite pleasure the great object of my mission; the long sought for majestic Niger, glittering to the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly to the eastward". However, the ruler denied him entry to his city. After reaching Bamako he turned west. Severely ill with fever, he struggled on to Kamalia where he found a friendly Muslim trader, Karfa Taura, who agreed to look after him.
On 10 June 1797 Park and Taura reached Pisania. The explorer recorded in his journal that this was a slave-trading area: "The slaves are commonly secured by putting the right leg of one, and the left of another into the same pair of fetters. By supporting the fetters with string they can walk very slowly. Every four slaves are likewise fastened together by the necks. They were led out in their fetters every morning to the shade of the tamarind tree where they were encouraged to sing diverting songs to keep up their spirits; for although some of them sustained the hardships of their situation with amazing fortitude, the greater part were very much dejected, and would sit all day in the sort of sullen melancholy with their eyes fixed upon the ground."
Park joined an American slave ship, Charlestown, where he was employed as a surgeon, bound for South Carolina. He later recalled the journal: "The number of slaves received on board this vessel... was one hundred and thirty; of whom about twenty-five had been, I suppose, of free condition in Africa, as most of them, being Bushreens, could write a little Arabic. Nine of them had become captives in the religious war between Abdulkader and Damel.... My conversation with them, in their native language, gave them great comfort; and as the surgeon was dead, I consented to act in a medical capacity in his room for the remainder of the voyage. They had in truth need of every consolation in my power to bestow; not that I observed any wanton acts of cruelty practised either by the master or the seamen towards them; but the mode of confining and securing Negroes in the American slave ships, owing chiefly to the weakness of their crews, being abundantly more rigid and severe than in British vessels employed in the same traffic, made these poor creatures to suffer greatly, and a general sickness prevailed amongst them. Besides the three who died on the Gambia, and six or eight while we remained at Goree, eleven perished at sea, and many of the survivors were reduced to a very weak and emaciated condition."
He eventually arrived back to England after an absence of two years, seven months. Park was able to provide the African Association with a detailed map of the area that he explored. Mungo Park's book, Travels to the Interiors of Africa, was published in 1799. It was a best-seller with three editions published during the first year. His biographer, Christopher Fyfe, has pointed out: "Written in a straightforward, unpretentious, narrative style, it gave readers their first realistic description of everyday life in west Africa, depicted without the censorious, patronizing contempt which so often has disfigured European accounts of Africa... " http://www.spartacus...uk/USASpark.htm