Tag Archives: Slave traders

Observations of an expat: A sad, bad history

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Queen Elizabeth I was appalled when she was told that Sir John Hawkins had gone into the slaving business. The venture “was detestable and would call down the vengeance from heaven upon the undertakers,” she said.

Then Hawkins showed her the accounts. The Queen immediately invested in his next slaving voyage. That pretty much sums up the English attitude towards slavery. It was “detestable.” But they held their noses because the trade made shedloads of money.

Slavery helped finance Britain’s industrial revolution and stately homes as well as providing the economic foundation stone of colonial America.

The British did not invent slavery. Historians estimate that 30  percent of the Roman Empire were slaves.  The difference is that the African slave trade was based on racial superiority which subsequent generations are still trying to shed.

The Portuguese were the first in modern times to deal in the African flesh. But by the end of the mid-fifteenth their Spanish neighbours had replaced them.  King Charles V insured Spanish dominance by selling the rights to a monopoly – the asiento – to provide African slaves to Spanish colonies.

If anyone other than the asentista tried to sell slaves in a Spanish colony the captain and crew could be tried as pirates. This did not stop  Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake. The two men are better known for capturing Spanish treasure ships, circumnavigating the globe and saving England from the Spanish Armada. But they were also England’s first slave traders.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 11 Comments

I applaud the Bristol protest

I feel compelled to write this article after reading an opposing op-ed around ‘mob rule’ regarding the toppling of the Edward Colston statue last weekend. I personally haven’t commented on the actions of the Bristol protest thus far, today I want to say I applaud and stand with those who acted on Sunday.

Let me be honest and frank; at first, I was in two minds about the actions of the protest. I wasn’t sure if these were the ‘correct’ actions on the day, then I realised something, and it’s something we all have to…It’s not my place as a white male to dictate how anyone should feel about a statue of a man who profiteered from the slave trade.

For the people spouting its historical significance in the media, let me say this. We record history in books and museums, statues are built with one purpose to venerate and glorify its subject. I personally don’t see there’s a debatable position on this; he profiteered from the suffering and enslavement of people! I really couldn’t care if he subsequently bequeathed said ill-gotten gains to parts of Bristol…it’s blood money, pure and simple!

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 28 Comments
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