The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Pro and Con: Parallels to Animal Rights Activism
Lo then, in yonder fragrant isle
Where Nature ever seems to smile,
The cheerful gang!–the negroes see
Perform the task of industry:
Ev’n at their labour hear them sing,
While time flies quick on downy wing;
Finish’d the bus’ness of the day,
No human beings are more gay:
Of food, clothes, cleanly lodging sure,
Each has his property secure;
Their wives and children are protected,
In sickness they are not neglected;
And when old age brings a release,
Their grateful days they end in peace.
But should our Wrongheads have their will,
Should Parliament approve their bill,
Pernicious as th’ effect would be,
T’ abolish negro slavery,
Such partial freedom would be vain,
Since Love’s strong empire must remain.
NO ABOLITION OF SLAVERY: OR, THE UNIVERSAL EMPIRE OF LOVE. 1791, James Boswell
Making comparisons between nonhuman suffering and human suffering can greatly upset people who hold dearly to the Supremacy Myth aka Human Supremacy aka Human Exceptionalism, Chosen Species fable, etc. It is one thing to say an oppressed group of humans were being treated “like animals,” since the former is meant to benefit by the relationship drawn, but if the beneficiary is supposed to be a nonhuman being, then arrogance, intolerance, and ignorance can fuel a hostile reaction, clouding their sense of compassion and justice.
They will consider comparisons between human and nonhuman suffering to be offensive, and might go so far as to utter the unwise claim that regarding humans and nonhumans equal in moral value is what led to slavery in the first place.
This view romanticizes humanity’s past in an incredibly naïve fashion, suggesting that an ancient universal concept of human rights has always existed (despite all the wars in history to prove otherwise), and grossly slanders the rest of Nature and non-humanity, for it implies that extreme abuse and cruelty has always been the lot of nonhuman beings–and that there is nothing wrong with it—as long as humans don’t experience the same. In truth, most of what we mean when we say “treated like an animal” refers to things that nonhumans could not experience without human intervention—being caged for life, castrated, branded, starved to death, blinded, worked to death—in wild Nature such scenarios would either be impossible (how could a fox get trapped in such a way that he chews his own leg off?) or extremely rare.
It also means that equality is a bad thing, and that a group regarding itself as more important, deserving of special rights and double standard morality, is a good thing.
Actually, it is this belief in the importance of a special VIP group that led to slavery and the defenses of it, not a belief in equality and justice for all.
Those that supported human slavery believed their group (as they defined it) was superior in value, deserving of more rights, and a different standard of justice than those who were enslaved. This is how oppression operates. The victimizer is better than the victim.
It has nothing to do with regarding the victim as nonhuman animals—all that is required is that the victim be vulnerable. Nonhuman animals are at the forefront of this vulnerability but humans have always been alongside—other tribes, women, children, disabled etc. Slave masters knew perfectly well slaves were human (as the poem quoted in the opening verifies: “no human beings are more gay”), but this wasn’t seen as important as being a white Christian male, or more to the point, making money off the misery of others.
One of the most articulate supporters of slavery was the writer James Boswell:
“The wild and dangerous attempt which has for some time been persisted in order to obtain an act of our legislature, to abolish so very important and necessary branch of commercial interest, must have been crus(h)ed at once, had not the insignificance of the zealots who vainly took the lead in it, made the vast body of Planters, Merchants, and others, whose immense properties are involved in that trade, reasonably enough suppose that there could be no danger. The encouragement which the attempt has received excites my wonder and indignation; and though some men of superior abilities have supported it, whether from a love of temporary popularity, when prosperous; or a love of general mischief, when desperate, my opinion is unshaken. To abolish a status which in all ages GOD has sanctioned, and man has continued, would not only be robbery to an innumerable class of our fellow-subjects; but it would be extreme cruelty to the African Savages, a portion of whom it saves from massacre, or intolerable bondage in their own country, and introduces into a much happier state of life; especially now when their passage to the West Indies and their treatment there is humanely regulated. To abolish that trade would be to shut the gates of mercy on mankind.” Boswell, J., Life of Johnson (N.Y.: Modern Library Edition, 1965) p. 365.
An animal rights activist will notice many familiar arguments. That the exploitation is important and economically necessary, that the critics are motivated by recklessness or selfishness. And that the victims were better treated by their tormentors than among each other in their own habitat—which is similar to arguments made to defend nonhuman exploitation such as meat eating, hunting and zoos. There’s even a nod to the idea that any reform of exploitation will make it more appealing (humane regulation). At the same time, nowhere is Boswell suggesting that the Africans are not human.
In the afterward to his poem No Abolition of Slavery, he writes:
“That the Africans are in a state of savage wretchedness, appears from
the most authentic accounts. Such being the fact, an abolition of the
slave trade would in truth be precluding them from the first step towards progressive civilization, and consequently of happiness, which it is proved by the most respectable evidence they enjoy in a great degree in our West-India islands, though under well-regulated restraint.”
Happy slavery. Once more it should be noted that he is not regarding them as nonhuman—indeed, he sees slavery as a stepping stone to them achieving “civilization.”
“That the evils of the Slave Trade should, like the evils incident to
other departments of civil subordination, be humanely remedied as much as may be, every good man is convinced; and accordingly we find that great advances have been gradually made in that respect, as may be seen in various publications, particularly the evidence taken before the Privy-Council. It must be admitted, that in the course of the present imprudent and dangerous attempt to bring about a total abolition, one essential advantage has been obtained, namely, a better mode of carrying the slaves from Africa to the West-Indies; but surely this might have been had in a less violent manner.”
There should be a strong sense of déjà vu for animal rights activists–he is saying that efforts to end slavery had actually made it more profitable, and there is reference to violence, just as supporters or vivisection or any other atrocity will refer to its critics as violent extremists and terrorists.
Reform Fuels Exploitation
It has been fashionable to argue that efforts to reform exploitation such as hard won legislation that regulates rather than abolishes a farm industry practice will only help the same industry to be crueler. But this was also observed with slavery. The slave traders exploited legislation any way they could:
“One of the most chilling of all the appalling documents is ‘The Plan of the Brookes’, a notorious eighteenth-century scheme for stacking slaves into the slave-ship ‘Brookes’…By a precise mathematical calculation, the technology of horror is laid out – feet and inches, standing room and breathing space assigned with lethal concern for maximum profit. A Mr. Jones recommends that ‘five females be reckoned as four males, and three boys or girls as equal to two grown persons. ..every man slave is to he allowed six feet by one foot four inches for room, every woman five feet ten by one foot four…’, and so it continues until every scrap of flesh is accommodated – 451 in number. But an Act of Parliament allows for 454. So the document concludes that, ‘if three more could be wedged among the number represented in the plan, this plan would contain precisely the number which the act directs.’” Newsweek (March 15, 1965) p. 106.
It is difficult to see how the anti-slavery movement could have prevented such things from happening. Changing society and fighting big industry was not simple, fast, or easy. We should not expect it to be different for nonhuman exploitation. The meat and dairy industry is just as ruthless as the slave industry was in fighting reforms and maximizing their profits. Even the publication of the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was in part a reaction to the Compromise of 1850 (a Congressional package of bills that included pro-slavery concessions such as the Fugitive Slave Act) did itself spark a series of pro-slavery novels. As animal activists know, pro-animal exploitation propaganda is just as common today.
Free Produce Movement
Veganism and vegetarianism have long been tied to the view that one should seek to reduce exploitation and one’s personal involvement is central to that—but this was not viewed as a boycott strategy, nor did it condemn other forms of animal advocacy. “Abolitionist” Gary Francione is most well-known in the view that not only is veganism as he defines it a prerequisite for being an animal advocate, but that all other reform efforts are useless or counter productive (especially legislative efforts to reform industry). Francione does not appear to speak about the Free Produce Movement although there are connections to veganism:
“The first abstainer on record…was Benjamin Lay. Born at Colchester, England, in 1677, Lay went to Barbados in 1718 and there saw slavery at first hand. When he arrived at Philadelphia in 1731, he was already outspoken in his views on the subject. As he advanced in years, his eccentricity became notorious. He consistently refused to eat any food produced by slave labor, nor, in the houses of his friends, would he accept anything served by slaves. His clothing was made of tow which he spun himself, while his other peculiarities included vegetarianism, residence in a cave-like dwelling, and prolonged fasts.” THE FREE PRODUCE MOVEMENT A Quaker Protest Against Slavery by RUTH KETRING NUERMBERGER, Ph.D. DUKE UNIVERSITY- PRESS 1942
The Quakers led the Free Produce Movement initiative, seeing it as a way to protest the slave trade without use of violence.
Prominent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who had almost been hanged for his anti-slavery activities and later championed women’s rights, was at first supportive of the Free Produce Movement:
“. . . Slavery is a system of robbery, practised upon millions of our
fellow beings— . . . The assertions which have been made are true-
that the consumers of the productions of slave labor contribute to a
fund for supporting slavery with all its abominations— that they are
the Alpha and the Omega of the business — that the slave-dealer, the
slave-holder, and the slave-driver, are virtually the agents of the
consumer, for by holding out the temptation, he is the original cause,
the first mover in the horrid process — that we are called upon to
refuse those articles of luxury, which are obtained at an absolute
and lavish waste of the blood of our fellow men — . . .
… I say, then, that entire abstinence from the products of
slavery is the duty of every individual. In no other way can our
example or influence be exerted so beneficially. How many are there
in the free states, who will gladly give a preference for those articles which are not tainted with oppression, even though at first they come a trifle higher than slave products? Let us open a market for free goods, and encourage conscientious planters to cultivate their lands by free labor. . . . Orice(?) bring free into competition with slave labor, and the present system of bondage will be speedily over-
“Soon, however, Garrison turned his attention more and more to advocating immediate emancipation and denouncing colonization. It is difficult to establish just when he turned wholly away from the
free labor principle as a means to advance the abolition of slavery. Certain it is, however, that his reversal had been accomplished by 1847, when he said that abstinence was a waste of time when strong and vital issues were at stake. He further asked, who but the abolitionist was so well entitled to use products of the slave’s toil in whose behalf he was laboring? In later years the free labor idea was viewed even with ridicule, when Wendell Phillips Garrison wrote, “The Abolitionists proper, we repeat, although always stigmatized as impracticable, never mounted this hobby as if the battle-horse of victory.” THE FREE PRODUCE MOVEMENT A Quaker Protest Against Slavery by RUTH KETRING NUERMBERGER, Ph.D. DUKE UNIVERSITY- PRESS 1942
Slavery and God
It is a common assumption that Christianity was synonymous with human rights and an anti-slavery position, but if you read the Bible itself and look into the history, you will discover that slavery is not condemned in either the Old or New Testament. There is even instruction on how to properly beat a slave to death: Exodus 21:20-21 “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money [property].”
Cardinal John Henry Newman: “slavery is “a condition of life ordained by God in the same sense that other conditions of life are.”
Jewish support of the Slave Trade is not commonly discussed in the media, but they are well represented. In the Jewish-owned media, it was often the case that White Christians were blamed for the evils of slavery with no mention of Jews.
‘The following passages are from Dr. Raphael’s book Jews and Judaism in the United States: A Documentary History (New York: Behrman House, Inc., Pub, 1983), pp. 14, 23-25.’
“Jews also took an active part in the Dutch colonial slave trade; indeed, the bylaws of the Recife and Mauricia congregations (1648) included an imposta (Jewish tax) of five soldos for each Negro slave a Brazilian Jew purchased from the West Indies Company. Slave auctions were postponed if they fell on a Jewish holiday. In Curacao in the seventeenth century, as well as in the British colonies of Barbados and Jamaica in the eighteenth century, Jewish merchants played a major role in the slave trade. In fact, in all the American colonies, whether French (Martinique), British, or Dutch, Jewish merchants frequently dominated.
“This was no less true on the North American mainland, where during the eighteenth century Jews participated in the ‘triangular trade’ that brought slaves from Africa to the West Indies and there exchanged them for molasses, which in turn was taken to New England and converted into rum for sale in Africa. Isaac Da Costa of Charleston in the 1750’s, David Franks of Philadelphia in the 1760’s, and Aaron Lopez of Newport in the late 1760’s and early 1770’s dominated Jewish slave trading on the American continent.”
In the 1860s Rabbi M.J. Raphall, while supposedly not a slaveholder himself, spoke on the issue of slavery and the Bible, indicating that the 10th commandment puts slaves “under the same protection as any other species of lawful property…That the Ten Commandments are the word of G-d, and as such, of the very highest authority, is acknowledged by Christians as well as by Jews…How dare you, in the face of the sanction and protection afforded to slave property in the Ten Commandments–how dare you denounce slaveholding as a sin? When you remember that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job–the men with whom the Almighty conversed, with whose names he emphatically connects his own most holy name, and to whom He vouchsafed to give the character of ‘perfect, upright, fearing G-d and eschewing evil’ (Job 1:8)–that all these men were slaveholders, does it not strike you that you are guilty of something very little short of blasphemy?”
“Receiving slavery as one of the conditions of society, the New Testament nowhere interferes with or contradicts the slave code of Moses; it even preserves a letter [to Philemon] written by one of the most eminent Christian teachers [St. Paul] to a slave owner on sending back to him his runaway slave.” Rabbi M.J. Raphall, “The Bible View of Slavery,” delivered in New York City, 1861.
Furthermore, those early church representatives who were hostile to vegetarianism such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, were similarly hostile to an anti-slavery position. In 340 the Synod of Gangra in Armenia condemned followers of Manichaeism for practices that included not eating meat and urging slaves to liberate themselves.
Comparisons and Inconsistencies
Early slavery abolitionists made comparisons to how sailors were formerly abused in the British Royal Navy in order to make their point about the treatment of African slaves brought over by ships, just as we see with animal rights activism making comparisons to the slave trade. They used an established and accepted reform in order to communicate the present issue where reform is sought. Perhaps the relatives of Caucasian sailors were offended that their suffering was being exploited to serve the abolitionist cause, just as we see with those generations removed from slavery or Nazi Germany who get outraged that activists are drawing comparisons for the sake of social justice and truth.
There was also inconsistency just as we see with animal rights activism. Rodrigo de Albornoz and Bartolomé de las Casas opposed the enslaving of North American tribes, but advocated the use of African slaves in their place.
Rodrigo de Albornoz denounced the enslavement of the indigenous thus: “It causes havoc in the land, and the people who may be converted [to Christianity] will be lost if it is not remedied soon… It is a great matter of conscience.”
Albornoz did not feel the same about his license to import 150 black slaves.
Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were slaveholders but endorsed anti-slavery views. Abraham Lincoln rejected the “extreme” position of the abolitionists, while he, along with Stephen Douglas, John C. Fremont, and Ulysses Grant married into slave owning families.
Anti-slavery efforts led to the rise of pro-slavery defenders called the Fire Eaters. Just as we see speakers who defend the meat industry, hunting, and other exploitation attempting various rhetorical tricks to elude the truth.
Here is an example by “Fire Eater” William Lowndes Yancy:
“You (the Northern anti-slavers) are allowed to whip your children; we are allowed to whip our Negroes. There is no cruelty in the practice. … Our Negroes are but children. … The Negro that will not work is made to work. Society tolerates no drones.”
The equivalent in animal rights to Yancy’s argument might be someone defending vivisection or hunting by highlighting the critic’s meat eating.
The 1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery, which is considered the first document in North America to criticize slavery, referred to the Golden Rule and also the negative effects slave revolts would have on immigration to America (and therefore business). It wasn’t merely a selfless moral appeal (the writers of the document did not have slaves or need of them in their work), but one of self-interest (encouraging emigration to the colonies which slave revolts would hamper). It took decades for other Quakers to support an anti-slavery effort.
Abolitionist vs Welfarist
Abolitionists like Gary Francione dismiss “welfare” campaigns, and say that only a total abolition of animal products by individual advocates will lead to the end of nonhuman exploitation. Legislative changes, single issue campaigns, incremental steps, and other attacks on systemic industry are considered counter productive or designed by industry to deceive activists and the public. However, unlike a number of their anti-slavery counterparts they strongly oppose violence—which for them also includes language they consider aggressive or hateful.
They would have you believe that anti-slavery groups were united—and that their namesake—abolitionists– led the efforts to end slavery. In reality, anti-slavery groups were far from unified in belief or tactics, and much of it was very much a welfare-guided campaign just as we see with animal rights activism. Slow, single issue, and incremental. We already highlighted Boswell’s remark that efforts to end slavery (or merely reform it) led to it being more economically efficient.
Abolitionists like John Brown advocated violence—not just harsh words, but killing slavery supporters and creating armed rebellion in order to end it.
Then there were the Tappan brothers, targets of the Anti-Abolitionist Riots of 1834 that saw their property attacked by a white mob. They opposed the American Anti-Slavery Society’s support for women’s suffrage and feminism or suggestions that class had any role in promoting slavery, but they defended the slaves who revolted on the Amistad (killing sailors and slavers alike).
Animal rights advocates have been accused of being privileged and elitist—the same accusation was made of anti-slavery activists.
And the standard attack that animal rights advocates are hypocrites for being against exploitation when they themselves have benefited from it? The same charge was also made of anti-slavery activists (as the quotes by W L Garrison indicated). Also consider the ties between slavery and vivisection:
“J. Marion Sims, a leading 19th- century physician and former president of the American Medical Association, developed many of his gynecological treatments through experiments on slave women who were not granted the comfort of anesthesia. Sims’s legacy is Janus-faced; he was pitiless with non- consenting research subjects, yet he was among the first doctors of the modern era to emphasize women’s health.”
African Americans used in medical experiments by Alondra Nelson The Washington Post, Jan. 7, 2007
Or the vast array of connections between slavery and business interests which few human rights advocates could claim total separation from to escape a charge of hypocrisy (commonly directed at nonhuman animal rights activists):
“There is considerable evidence that proud names in finance, banking, insurance, transportation, manufacturing, publishing and other industries are linked to slavery. Many of those same companies are today among the most aggressive at hiring and promoting African-Americans, marketing to black consumers and giving to black causes. So far, the reparations legal team has publicly identified five companies it says have slave ties: insurers Aetna, New York Life and AIG and financial giants J.P. Morgan Chase Manhattan Bank and FleetBoston Financial Group. Independently, USA TODAY has found documentation tying several others to slavery:* Investment banks Brown Bros. Harriman and Lehman Bros.* Railroads Norfolk Southern, CSX, Union Pacific and Canadian National.* Textile maker WestPoint Stevens. * Newspaper publishers Knight Ridder, Tribune, Media General, Advance Publications, E.W. Scripps and Gannett, parent and publisher of USA TODAY. ….Lloyd’s of London, the giant insurance marketplace, could become a target because member brokerages are believed to have insured ships that brought slaves from Africa to the USA and cotton from the South to mills in New England and Britain. The original benefactors of many of the country’s top universities — Harvard, Yale, Brown, Princeton and the University of Virginia, among them — were wealthy slave owners. Lawyers on the reparations team say universities also will be sued.” USAToday, Feb 21, 2002
Is Anti-Slavery Cultural Imperialism?
Another argument made against animal rights activists is that any criticism of tribal exploitation practices of nonhuman animals would be cultural imperialism. And yet, the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution also abolished slavery among North American tribes. Wouldn’t that also be cultural imperialism? It seems unlikely that all tribes with a form of slavery would be in lockstep agreement with the attitudes of the European colonists. So if it is acceptable to impose colonial moral views on tribal cultures when it comes to human rights issues, why the double standard when it comes to nonhuman issues?
When you make comparisons between human slavery and nonhuman exploitation you invite diversionary reactions that usually stem from the idea that humans deserve special status and that this truth is an ancient and universally known reality. But as we can observe with the history of slavery, the facts support a different view—that humans have exploited those vulnerable to exploitation whether human or not, and where there is an opportunity to make money, conscience is regularly dismissed. Efforts to correct this are often slow and difficult.
The view that animal rights abolition is diametrically at odds with welfare reform is a phenomenon that does not appear to have a parallel in the history of the anti-slavery movement. Even the abolitionist John Brown would likely not have opposed seeking to help victims anyway one could even if he preferred armed resistance. The evidence suggests that the hard won reforms to slavery (regulating the transport of slaves from Africa) did lead to an increased awareness and helped to expand efforts to fight it (as well as expanding interest to other social causes such as children’s rights and prison reform).
The idea that nonhuman victims are served best by abandoning all legislative efforts and only focusing on converting people to a definition of veganism that strives for a high level of personal purity and boycotting any products associated with exploitation might seem like a noble aim at first glance, but invites two objections: it indicates a lack of concern in the suffering of victims at present, and ignores the role of exploitation business interests in maintaining their profits and resisting any effort to change.
It can also nurture a bizarre conspiracy theory—that meat and dairy producers orchestrated efforts to criticize their operations in order to draw public condemnation and legislation that somehow means they increase profits. One only needs to examine the history of media and meat/dairy advertising with its idyllic or nonexistent depictions of animal treatment to see that industry opposes cruelty legislation (indeed, they press for laws against the filming of farm operations—an odd action if they felt “humane” labeling and legislation was good for business).
Getting the public to pay attention to nonhuman concerns is not an easy task given the distractions and counter propaganda by exploitation business. Singe issue campaigns and incremental reforms keep the subject in the media and help to broaden public awareness. If large animal charities switched to veganism promotion only, they would have less opportunity for media exposure as well as abandoning nonhuman animals to whatever industry has in store for them while the only pressure is placed on the activists and the public—which under the Francione-type abolitionist view is the true culprit in nonhuman suffering:
“The institutional exploiters are not “the enemy.” We are the ones who demand animal products. If we stopped consuming animal products, institutional users would shift their capital elsewhere.”
Francione’s view, if presented in the 18th century, would be saying that slave traders are not responsible for slavery—the consumer of sugar and cotton and other products connected to it is the main problem. Instead of putting pressure on the slave traders, the public must stop using products connected to slavery. As noted, the Free Produce Movement did not attract large numbers of followers—and certainly there is no evidence that advocates of FPM emphatically opposed all other means of social action, which is what the Francione abolitionist endorses.
Farming reforms are not the solution but they are not the enemy of veganism and animal rights. Anyone who aggressively argues that any and all effort to put pressure on exploitation industries amounts to sell-out collaboration is either seriously misguided or working for exploitation industries themselves. One can support legislative efforts and promote veganism at the same time. In fact, as we see with the history of slavery, diversity in view and action was the reality when it came to championing morality and justice and we should not be surprised if animal rights activism follows the same path.
The following site has the agenda of defending Islam as more progressive about slavery than Christianity. Despite this objective or perhaps because of it, there is valuable information on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade that has not been willingly highlighted in Western recollections (especially by critics of SICS and incremental changes).
“The Church did not condemn slavery. Orthodox and heretic, Roman and barbarian alike assumed the institution to be natural and in-destructible. Pagan laws condemned to slavery any free woman who married a slave; the laws of Constantine [a Christian emperor] ordered the woman to be executed, and the slave to be burned alive. The Emperor Gratian decreed that a slave who accused his master of any offence except high treason to the state should be burned alive at once, without inquiring into the justice of the charge.”
“Because there was so much profit to be made by taking slaves from Africa, Europeans refused to listen to their consciences. They knew about the suffering that was inflicted upon people in Africa, on the slave-ships and on the slave-plantations of the Americas, and they were aware that to sell their fellow human beings could not be morally justified. Yet the Christian church came forward with excuses for the slave-trade. Many priests themselves carried on slave-trading, especially in Angola, and many others owned slaves in the Americas. The only reason the Catholic Church could give for its actions was that it was trying to save African souls by baptising the slaves. The Protestants were worse, for they did not even make it clear that they accepted that the Africans had a soul. Instead, they supported the view that African slave was a piece of property like furniture or a domestic animal. There is no part of the history of the Christian church which was more disgraceful than its support of the Atlantic slave-trade. “
“By the nineteenth century, there was another change of the people who took the leading role in exploiting Africa. The European countries themselves were not as active in the slave-trade, but instead Europeans who had settled in Brazil, Cuba and North America were the ones who organised a large part of the trade. The Americans had recently gained their independence from Britain, and it was the new nation of the United States of America which played the biggest part in the last fifty years of the Atlantic slave-trade, taking away slaves at a greater rate than ever before.”
“considered that the best way in which to remedy abuse of Negro slaves was to set the plantation owner a good example by keeping slaves and estates themselves, accomplishing in this practical manner the salvation of the planters and the advancement of their foundations’. The Moravian missionaries on the island held slaves without hesitation; the Baptists, one historian writes with charming delicacy, would not allow their earlier missionaries to deprecate ownership of slaves. To the very end the Bishop of Exeter retained his 655 slaves, for whom he received over 12,700 pounds compensation in 1833.”
“Church historians make awkward apologies that conscience awoke very slowly to the appreciation of the wrongs inflicted by slavery and that the defence of slavery by churchmen ‘simply arose from want of delicacy of moral perception’. There is no need to make such apologies. The attitude of the churchmen was the attitude of the layman. The eighteenth century, like any other century, could not rise above its economic limitations. As Whitefield argued in advocating the repeal of that article of the Georgia charter which forbade slavery, ‘It is plain to demonstration that hot countries cannot be cultivated without Negroes.’.”
“Quaker nonconformity did not extend to the slave trade. In 1756 there were eighty-four Quakers listed as members of the Company trading to Africa, among them the Barclay and the Baring families. Slave dealing was one of the most lucrative investments of English as of American Quakers, and the name of slaver, The Willing Quaker, reported from Boston at Sierra Leone in 1793, symbolizes the approval with which the slave trade was regarded in Quaker circles. The Quaker opposition to the slave trade came first and largely not from England but from America, and there from the small rural communities of the North, independent of slave labour. ‘It is difficult’, writes Dr. Gray, ‘to avoid the assumption that opposition to the slave system was at the first confined to a group who gained no direct advantage from it, and consequently possessed an objective attitude.’…”
Humanemyth.org, which has apparently lost its initiative to make site updates, was strongly critical of welfare reforms—focusing its attacks on large animal charities and those that have sided with them like Whole Foods supermarket chain. They appear to be less critical of the agri-businesses that are at the forefront of the meat and dairy misery—the businesses that oppose investigations into their operations and any changes to how they torture and kill their victims. This essay on the history of anti-slavery shows a narrow focus, ignoring the scope of resistance and the difficulties faced in fighting entrenched exploitation:
An informative summary of the Free Produce Movement and its effectiveness:
What can animal activists learn from the free produce movement?
Well worth reading:
Was told about another area of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade which has been all but forgotten. Irish slaves.
“As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.
African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (£50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than £5 Sterling). If a planter whipped, branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African….
…In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls (many as young as 12) with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves.
This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.
England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia. There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.”
“In reality the Whites were slaves; they lost the right of movement, the right to marry, the right to work for themselves and all the other opportunities that we take for granted.
The treatment of “servants” was exactly what you have seen in films about American Blacks and of their treatment for slaves–that is shackled, flogged, mistreated, without the effective protection of the law. A portion of indentured servants were skilled tradesmen, nonetheless even these were not free and could be subject to arbitrary treatment of their master. It should be noted that relationships between slave and master were not always necessarily bad or harsh. In all times and ages there were good bosses and bad bosses, and, as discussed below, the threat of slave revolts and market restraints effectively limited the master’s power.
Nevertheless, the law was weighted against the slaves. For instance, if a White woman was raped or seduced by the master, then additional fines and servitude was imposed — on the servant, not on the master! Any children born were kept as slaves until age 21 and could be sent away from the parents as the owners wanted. If the servant ran away, he or she could be dragged back and punished both physically and with extra servitude. The only real privilege you had as a White was that you couldn’t be owned by a Black or a Jew.”
For many of the elite, poor Whites were lower than dogs in priority. The laws for the protection of cruelty to animals (1824) were instituted long before the laws protecting children (1889). The bishops in the House of Lords objected to child protection laws because they might affect “property rights.”
“Many of the elite would weep over the cruelty to Negroes in America, but feel no pain about sending young chimney sweeps to death in a hot chimney, nor worry that such children were being bought and sold on the streets of London.”
Jewish role in the Slave Trade