Olaudah Equiano was kidnapped by slave traders when he was eleven years old and was sold to Europeans and packed onto a slave ship headed for Barbados. What he witnessed on that slave ship haunted him for the rest of his life. He was first owned by an officer of the British Royal Navy who had him serve in the navy during the French and Indian War. This officer baptized him, renamed him, taught him seafaring skills, and taught him how to read and write. He was then sold to a merchant in the West Indies. Here Equiano worked on trading ships and made a little money of his own. He eventually had enough to buy his own freedom. His narrative became one of the first books published by a former slave and became one of the most influential slave narratives because its graphic and powerful descriptions of inhumanity that he and others slaves suffered helped to further the abolitionist cause throughout the United States and Europe.