Posts Tagged ‘polynesia’

Yay! My Book on Slavery in the British Empire Has Been Published with Lulu

January 30, 2019

On Monday I finally got the proof copies I ordered of my book, The Global Campaign, which I’ve just published with Lulu, the print on demand service. The book’s in two volumes, which have the subtitles on their first pages The British Campaign to Eradicate Slavery in its Colonies. The book’s in two volumes. Volume One has the subtitle The Beginnings to Abolition and the British Caribbean, while Volume Two is subtitled Africa and the Wider World.

My blurb for the book runs

British imperialism created an empire stretching from North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, much of whose population were slaves. Global Campaign tells how slavery in the British Empire arose, the conditions and resistance to it of the peoples they enslaved, and the steps taken to end it by the abolitionists across the Empire and the metropolitan authorities in London.

The first volume of this book, Volume 1: The Beginnings to Abolition and the British Caribbean describes the emergence of this Empire, and the attempts to end slavery within it up to end of apprenticeship in 1838.

Volume 2: Africa and the Wider World describes how the British tried to end it in their expanding Empire after 1838. It describes how abolition became part of the ideology of British imperialism, and spurred British expansion, annexation and conquest.

The two volumes also discuss the persistence of slavery after abolition into the modern world, and its continuing legacy across continents and cultures.

The contents of vol. 1 are an introduction, then the following:

Chapter 1: the British Slave Empire in 1815
Chapter 2: From Amelioration to Abolition
Chapter 3: Abolition, Apprenticeship and Limited Freedom, 1833-1838.

Vol. 2’s chapter are

1: Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast and Lagos
2: India, Ceylon, Java and Malaya,
3: The Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji
4: West Africa and the Gold Coast, 1874-1891
5: The Ottoman Empire, Egypt and Sudan
6: East and Central Africa
7: Zanzibar and Pemba
8: Legacies and Conclusion

Both volumes also have an index and bibliography. I also drew the cover art.

Volume 1 is 385 pages A5, ISBN 978-0-244-75207-1, price 12.00 pounds.
Volume 2 386 pages A5, ISBN 978-0-244-45228-5, price 12.00 pounds. Both prices exclusive of VAT.

The books are based on the notes and summaries I made for the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum of some of the official documents they’d acquired from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on slavery. I also supplemented this with a mass of secondary reading on slavery, the slave trade and the British Empire. It’s a fascinating story. I chose to write about slavery in the British Empire as a whole as I found when I was looking through the documents that slavery certainly wasn’t confined to the Caribbean. It was right across the world, though most of the published books concentrate on slavery in the US and the Caribbean. There has been a recent book on slavery and abolition in British India and Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and I remember seeing a book on the British campaign against slavery in the Pacific, published, I believe, from one of the antipodean publishers. I doubt very many people in Britain are aware that it existed in India and Sri Lanka, and that attempts to outlaw it there date from c. 1798, when the British judge of the Bombay (Mumbai) presidency ruled that it was illegal. Similarly, general histories of slavery do mention the infamous ‘coolie trade’ in indentured labourers from India and China. They were imported into the Caribbean and elsewhere around the world in order to supply cheap labour after the abolition of slavery in 1838. However, they were treated so abysmally in conditions often worse than those endured by enslaved Blacks, that it was dubbed by one British politician ‘A new system of slavery’. There’s an excellent book on it, with that as its title, by Hugh Tinker, published by one of the Indian presses.

General books on slavery also discuss the enslavement of indigenous Pacific Islanders, who were kidnapped and forced to work on plantations in Fiji and Queensland in Australia. But again, I doubt if many people in the UK have really heard about it. And there are other episodes in British imperial history and the British attempts to curb and suppress slavery around the world which also isn’t really widely known. For example, abolition provided some much of the ideological impetus for the British conquest of Africa. Sierra Leone was set up in the late 18th century as a colony for freed slaves. But the British were also forced to tackle slavery and slaving in the Gold Coast, after they acquired it in the 19th century. They then moved against and conquered the African kingdoms that refused to give up slaving, such as Ashanti, Dahomey and the chiefdoms around Lagos. It’s a similar story in east Africa, in what is now Tanganyika, Zambia, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Malawi. The British initially wished to conquer the area as part of the general European ‘Scramble for Africa’, and their main rivals in the region where the Portuguese. But the British public were also aware through the missionary work of David Livingstone that the area was part of the Arabic slave trade, and that the indigenous peoples of this region were being raided and enslaved by powerful local African states, such as the Yao and the Swahili as well as Arabs, and exported to work plantations in the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba off the east African coast. At the same time, Indian merchants were also buying and enslaving Africans from that area, particularly Uganda.

The British were also concerned to crush slavery in Egypt after they took control of the country with the French. They encouraged Khedive Ismail, the Egyptian ruler, to attempt to suppress it in Egypt and then the Sudan. It was as part of this anti-slavery campaign that the Khedive employed first Colonel Baker and then General Gordon, who was killed fighting the Mahdi.

At the same time, Stamford Raffles in Singapore and Raja Brooke of Sarawak justified their conquest and acquisition of these states as campaigns to end slavery in those parts of Asia. The British also took over Fiji at the request of the Fijian king, Cakabau. White Americans and Europeans had been entering the country, and Cakabau and his advisors were afraid that unless the country was taken under imperial control, the settlers would enslave the indigenous Fijians. Indeed, Cakabau had been made king of the whole of Fiji by the colonists, though he was acutely aware of how he was being used as a figurehead for effective White control of his people. At the same time, the White planters were also forming a White supremacist group. So he appealed to the British Empire to takeover his country in order to prevent his people’s enslavement.

British imperial slavery started off with the British colonies in the Caribbean and North America. I’ve ignored slavery in the US except for the period when it was part of the British Empire. The Canadians ended slavery nearly two decades before it was formally outlawed throughout the British Empire. It was done through enlightened governors, judges as well as abolitionists outside government. The country’s authorities did so by interpreting the law, often against its spirit, to show that slavery did not legally exist there. There were attempts by slaveowners to repeal the legislation, but this was halfhearted and by the 1820s slavery in Canada had officially died out.

After the British acquired Cape Colony at the southern tip of Africa, the very beginning of the modern state of South Africa, they were also faced with the problem of ending the enslavement of its indigenous population. This included the indigenous Khoisan ‘Bushmen’, who were being forced into slavery when they took employment with White farmers. At the same time, the British were trying to do the same in Mauritius and the Seychelles after they conquered them from the French.

The British initially started with a programme of gradual abolition. There was much debate at the time whether the enslaved peoples could support themselves as independent subjects if slavery was abolished. And so the abolitionists urged parliament to pass a series of legislation slowly improving their conditions. These regulated the foods they were given by the planters, the punishments that could be inflicted on them, as well as giving them medical care and support for the aged and disabled. They also tried to improve their legal status by giving them property rights and the right to be tried in ordinary courts. Special officials were set up, the Guardians and Protectors of Slaves, to examine complaints of cruelty.

This gradualist approach was challenged by the female abolitionists, who grew impatient with the cautious approach of the Anti-Slavery Society’s male leadership. They demanded immediate abolition. I’ve also tried to pay tribute to the struggle by the enslaved people themselves to cast off their shackless. In the Caribbean, this took the form of countless slave revolts and rebellions, like Maroons in Jamaica, who were never defeated by us. At the same time a series of slaves came forward to accuse their masters of cruelty, and to demand their freedom. After the Lord Mansfield ruled that slavery did not exist in English law in the late 18th century, slaves taken to Britain from the Caribbean by their masters presented themselves to the Protectors on their return demanding their freedom. They had been on British soil, and so had become free according to English law. They therefore claimed that they were illegally kept in slavery. As you can imagine, this produced outrage, with planters and slaveowners attacking both the anti-slavery legislation and official attempts to free the slaves as interference with the right of private property.

This legislation was introduced across the Empire. The same legislation that regulated and outlawed slavery in the Caribbean was also adopted in the Cape, Mauritius and the Seychelles. And the legislation introduced to ensure that indentured Indian and Chinese labourers were treated decently was also adopted for Pacific Islanders.

Slavery was eventually abolished in 1833, but a form of servitude persisted in the form of apprenticeship until 1838. This compelled the slaves to work unpaid for their masters for a certain number of hours each week. It was supposed to prepare them for true freedom, but was attacked and abandoned as just another form of slavery.

Unfortunately slavery continued to exist through the British Empire in various forms despite official abolition. The British were reluctant to act against it in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Java and Perak in what is now Malaysia because they were afraid of antagonizing the indigenous princes and so causing a rebellion. In Egypt they attempted to solve the problem by encouraging the slaveowners as pious Muslims to manumit their slaves freely as an act of piety, as the Prophet Mohammed urges them in the Qu’ran. In the Caribbean, the freedom the former slaves enjoyed was limited. The British were afraid of the plantation economy collapsing, and so passed legislation designed to make it difficult for the freed people to leave their former masters, often tying them to highly exploitative contracts. The result was that Black West Indians continued to fear re-enslavement long after abolition, and there were further riots and rebellions later in the 19th century. In British Africa, the indigenous African peoples became second class citizens, and were increasingly forced out of governmental and administrative roles in favour of Whites. Some colonies also conscripted African labourers into systems of forced labour, so that many came to believe that they had simply swapped one form of slavery for another. The result has been that slavery has continued to persist. And it’s expanded through people trafficking and other forms of servitude and exploitation.

The book took me on off several years to write. It’s a fascinating subject, and you can’t but be impressed with the moral and physical courage of everyone, Black and White, who struggled to end it. I chose to write about it in the British Empire as while there are many books on slavery across the world, there didn’t seem to be any specifically on the British Empire. Studying it also explains why there is so much bitterness about it by some people of West Indian heritage and how it has shaped modern politics. For example, before South Sudan was given its independence, Sudan under the British was effectively divided into two countries. In the southern part of the country, the British attempted to protect the indigenous peoples from enslavement by banning Arabs. They were also opened up to Christian evangelization. In the Arab north, the British attempted to preserve good relations by prohibiting Christian evangelism.

I also attempt to explain how it is that under the transatlantic slave trade, slavery became associated with Blackness. In the ancient world and during the Middle Ages, Whites were also enslaved. But Europeans started turning to Black Africans in the 14th and 15th centuries when it became impossible for them to buy Slavs from eastern Europe. So common had the trade in Slavs been that the modern English word, slave, and related terms in other languages, like the German Sklave, actually derive from Slav.

It’s been fascinating and horrifying writing the book. And what is also horrifying is that it persists today, and that new legislation has had to be passed against it in the 21st century.

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Norman Tebbit Claims Air Pollution Making People Transgender

October 29, 2017

Mike’s put up a lot of material on his blog, which deserves to be read and commented on. But I really couldn’t let this one pass.

Norman Tebbit, the noted opponent of LGBTQ rights, has risen once again to show his ignorance and bigotry.

Pink News reported that the elderly Thatcherite appeared in the pages of the Torygraph to claim that transgenderism is a new phenomenon. He said he couldn’t remember there being any other children, who were unhappy with their sex at his school, or amongst his intake for National Service or in his children’s school. He wants research conducted into it to examine its extent in time and geographical space. He also states that it’s unknown whether ours or other species are affected, and stated that some scientists believe it could be caused by air pollution. Pink News concluded that it was unclear what scientists he was referring to.

Mike makes the point that there have always been people unhappy with their gender, and that he wouldn’t be surprised if there were people at his school or amongst his cohort for National Service, who weren’t happy with the sex into which they were born. They kept silent, and hid it, because of the very strong hostility towards it. Those were more primitive times, and what has changed is that society has become more tolerant.

He concludes

The current situation is far from enlightened, but progress has been made – as a result of decades of campaigning against oppressive prejudice such as that displayed by Lord Tebbit.

And it is oppressive. It is an attempt to tell other people how to live. How would you like it?

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/10/28/lord-tebbit-thinks-air-pollution-is-making-people-transgender-is-that-as-opposed-to-narrow-minded/

There are a number of aspects to this, which do need to be carefully dissected and commented on.

First of all, I think somewhere along the line Tebbit has come across some entirely respectable research into the growth of reproductive abnormalities and intersex conditions in male animals, and then got it somehow twisted in his weird, bigoted little mind. Scientists have become worried about the increase in malformed sexual organs and female characteristics amongst some animals, such as frogs. I can remember reading an article in New Scientist back in the 1990s that reported that scientists had found an increase in these, as well as other birth defects, in areas in Canada and America that were particularly heavily polluted. I don’t think this was air pollution. It was chemical pollution from factories entering the water table. Amongst the human population, there was a growing gender imbalance with an abnormally low incidence of male births.

In short, there is plenty of evidence which shows that industrial pollution is feminizing animal populations, including humans. And I think it is reasonable to conclude that this process is connected with the fall in sperm vitality in developed, industrial countries, that will leave half of all men classified as clinically infertile by the middle of this century.

But this is not the same as transvestism or transgenderism. This has always been present in human societies. It’s condemned, along with homosexuality, in Leviticus in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Other cultures have been more accepting. For example, in Polynesian culture there were homosexuals, who dressed as women and did female tasks, and were accepted. Herodotus, the Father of History, states that the upper class of the Scythians were not only impotent, but they also dressed as women and did women’s work. The Scythians were a nomadic people on the steppes of central Asia and Siberia. And many of the shamans in Siberian spirituality were transvestites.

In the west, transvestism and transgenderism remained very illegal until very recently. Not only was it frowned upon, but it could also get the transvestite thrown in jail. There was a notorious case in the 19th century of two men, who dressed in drag as part of their music hall act, who were prosecuted because they went out in public wearing their female togs ‘for immoral purposes’, according to the prosecution. Transvestism has also been called Eonism, after the Chevalier d’Eon, a French nobleman and spy, who was also a transvestite. He was also very good at it. He lived as a woman for 20 years, and the woman, who shared his accommodation with him said that in all that time she didn’t know he was a man. One of the small press magazines that emerged in the great flourishing of independent zines in the 1990s was entitled Eon: The Magazine of Transkind, which was dedicated to defending transvestite/ transgender people and their rights.

Western society has become more tolerant towards the transgendered as part of the gay rights campaign that began in the 1950s and ’60s. And at the popular level a strong influence was David Bowie and Glam Rock. Bowie in the ’60s and ’70s adopted a very strongly sexually ambiguous persona. There are photos on the web of him with long hair wearing a man dress. Bowie inspired parts of the pop and rock scene to adopt a similarly androgynous image. Thus the number of Rock and Heavy Metal bands, who also sported long hair and the spandex clothes they’d bought from Chelsea Girl with their sisters. This whole attitude could be summed up in Twisted Sister’s old maxim, ‘Dress like women, sing like men, play like Motherf***ers’. These ’80s monsters of metal arguably achieved their ambition when, in 1987, they were voted America’s ‘worst dressed women’.

It wasn’t just down to Bowie, of course. And despite the massive hair, make-up and spandex, Rock and Heavy Metal are very aggressively masculine musical genres, although certainly not without their female fans and stars. The Goth subculture, or parts of it, also took up the androgynous look as well as a certain tolerance towards bisexuality, which was also becoming increasingly common across popular music generally as part of the changes in sexual attitudes amongst young people.

As for the prevalence of transvestism and transsexuality across different cultures through time, there have been a number of histories of sex written by serious anthropologists, archaeologists and historians, one of whom was also interviewed about his work and book by New Scientist. These issues have also been explored by some of the gay historians. A friend of mine used to have one lying around, which did cover homosexuality and related queer issues as a global phenomenon, from Asia and Europe to Africa and elsewhere.

If Tebbit wants to know more about the Scythians and their sexual habits, he can read Herodotus: The Histories, and the collection of ancient Greek medical writings ascribed to Hippocrates, The Hippocratic Writings. Both are, or were, in Penguin Classics. I’m afraid I can’t remember the titles and authors of the books on the history of sex, although one of them I think was simply titled, The History of Sex, and published by a mainstream publisher. The gay history book was, I think, published by one of the gay publishers.

The Oxbow Book Catalogue for autumn 2017 also contains a recent book, Exploring Sex and Gender in Bioarchaeology, ed. by Sabrina C. Agarwal and Julie K. Wesp (University of New Mexico Press 2017).

The blurb for this runs

Archaeologists have long used skeletal remains to identify gender. Contemporary bioarchaeologists, however, have begun to challenge the theoretical and methodological basis for sex assignment from the skeletons. Simultaneously, they have started to consider the cultural construction of gender roles, recognising the body as uniquely fashioned from the interaction of biological, social, and environmental factors. As the contributors to this volume reveal, combining skeletal data with contextual information can provide a richer understanding of life in the past.

(Page 6 of the catalogue).

This book ain’t cheap, however. The hardback edition is £88.95. But as Tebbit was a Tory cabinet minister, he can probably afford it. As for the other books, he could simply go on Amazon to find them, or simply look round his local branch of Waterstones.

As it is, it looks as if Tebbit has simply been watching too much Alex Jones, the bonkers American conspiracy theorist, and his foam-flecked rant about ‘the globalists’ putting chemicals in the water ‘to turn the frickin’ frogs gay!’

And here’s some light relief at the great conspiracy theorist’s expense:

Los Angeles Replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day

September 2, 2017

This clip from Telesur reports that Los Angeles has decided to drop Columbus Day from the holiday calendar and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The clip states that the city was a centre of indigenous American culture when it was inhabitant by the Tongva tribe. The Tongva were, however, subjected to the Spanish mission system, in which they were forcibly attached to Roman Catholic missions in order to convert them to Christianity. This was part of the wave of dispossession, enslavement, forced conversion and genocide that overtook the indigenous peoples following Columbus’ discovery of the New World in 1495.

I’m sure that city council’s decision to replace Columbus Day with a holiday celebrating the Amerindians will be criticized by the Republicans, and the Alt-Right and overt Nazis that have come out of the woodwork under Trump as another ‘loony left’ conspiracy to destroy America and White culture. I can just hear right-wing blowhards and ignorami like Rush Limbaugh even now spouting it over the airwaves, from political platforms and on the Net. But Columbus and his legacy have been immensely controversial for a long time.

Over 20 years ago, back in 1995 there was a storm of controversy surrounding the 500 anniversary of his discovery of America. Indigenous Americans argued that the celebration of his voyage amounted to celebrating their genocide at the hands of the conquistadors and the other European colonisers that followed. From what I remember, the Italian-American community got extremely upset at these remarks, as Columbus was Italian and therefore a great hero to them.

But the American First Nations have history on their side. Columbus’ discovery of the New World – actually the West Indies. He believed he’d actually gone all the way around the world and landed in Asia, and only dimly became aware that the place on which he’d landed might be an entirely new continent at the end of his life. It’s been estimated that the West Indies had a population of 3 million before Columbus’ arrival. The peoples of theses islands included the Arawaks, Caribs – from whom the word ‘cannibal’ is derived, because they were believed to eat people – and the Taino. The rock art produced by these ancient cultures still survives, and has been studied by archaeologists.

These people were then enslaved and decimated as the New World was claimed by the Spanish. They were forcibly converted to Christianity. Those that weren’t were executed. A year after Columbus’ arrival, most of the indigenous chiefs or caciques, who had welcomed him on his arrival, had been burned to death for their continued adherence to their traditional religious beliefs. Those that survived this, were enslaved and worked to death mining and producing gold for the Spanish. Those who tried to resist, or simply didn’t work hard enough, were tortured and mutilated in horrific ways. There are descriptions of Indians having their hands cut off and hung round their necks as a punishment, for example.

The Spanish mission system is also immensely controversial for the very same reasons. There’s been a long campaign by indigenous Californians against the conservation of the mission complexes as part of the state’s culture, because of the suffering they inflicted on the peoples forced into their care. Peoples like the Tongva were enslaved, their members isolated from each other, subjected to a system of cruel punishments. Many of them died from disease and hunger.

We British were also a part of this system of genocide and enslavement. The British popularized the Spanish persecution and extermination of the Caribbean peoples as part of a propaganda campaign to create hostility against them. The Spanish were resented as the Roman Catholic superpower that had threatened Protestant England, and the other Protestant European states. European Protestants drew parallels between their persecution of Amerindians their persecution of Protestants. This created the ‘Black Legend’ of the Spanish in America. However, when we expanded in the West Indies, we also persecuted and sought to exterminate and clear the islands we claimed of the remaining Caribs. Quite apart from the wars and genocide committed by us on the North American continent itself.

However, enslavement and genocide is not the whole of the history of the relationship between Christianity and indigenous people in America. In the 19th century many of the Protestant missionaries working amongst the American First Nations were staunch supporters of indigenous rights, and were profoundly concerned about the threat to them from White settlement. They were in contact, and often close friends, with British missionaries, who had worked with indigenous Australians and Polynesians, who were also members of the British Anti-Slavery Society. These missionaries, American and British, strongly believed that, while Native Americans would benefit immensely from conversion to Christianity, they also needed proper legal protection, and should be left firmly in possession of their ancestral lands. These missionaries formed the Aborigines’ Protection Society in order to defend the indigenous peoples of the British empire from exploitation and dispossession. Several of the 19th century missionaries were also firm in their view that Christianity should not be forced on to indigenous peoples in European cultural forms, but that it should be adapted to their culture. They thus looked forward to these nations developing their own distinctive Christian culture, and so contributing to Christianity as a world religion composed of many different and distinctive peoples and cultures.

Jimmy Dore: Obama Voted against UN Resolution Condemning Nazism

August 26, 2017

This is very interesting. In this clip, the left-wing American comedian and his co-hosts discuss Barak Obama’s voted against a UN resolution last year condemning Nazism. The resolution was for ‘combating glorification of Nazism, Neo-Nazism, and other practices contributing to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance’. America was one of only three countries which voted against it. One of the others was Palau Palau, which I think is a Polynesian island nation.

The reason Obama gave for voting against it was that while his administration condemned all forms of racism and ethnic and religious hatred, they objected to it because it contravened free speech. As Dore points out, the right to free speech does not cover crimes such as libel and incitement to criminal activity. And these crimes surely cover being a Nazi, who wishes to exterminate others simply because of their race.

Reporting the vote, the newspaper USA News stated it was because America was afraid Russia would use the resolution to launch attacks on its neighbours. Dore states he doesn’t know how that would work, but suspects it has something to do with the Nazis in the Ukraine. He also concludes the piece stating that this is an issue to watch, as there is something else going on there behind the scenes.

He also makes the point right at the beginning of the clip that this incident is very interesting, considering that everyone is now criticizing Donald ‘Donnie Tiny Hands’ Trump for his highly equivocal comments about the White supremacists, racists and Nazis in Charlottesville. Trump says that there are ‘fine people on both sides’. There obviously aren’t, as being a hate-twisted Nazi clearly definitely makes you not a ‘fine person’.

Dore has already made the point many times in his videos that for all his fine talk about egalitarianism, racial and religious tolerance, fairness and so on, Obama was as ruthlessly corporatist as his predecessors, giving generous handouts to the banks and other corporations, and privatizing vital public services like America’s school system. This was often against the wishes of parents, the local community, the teaching staff and local clergy. Afro-Americans were particularly concerned about the changes and the damage this would do to their children’s education.

Dore has also made the point that Obama took the two wars Bush had started, and expanded them into seven.

One reason Obama got away with this was probably because of his colour. The election of an Afro-American to the White House was hailed as showing that racism was dead in America, and that the country was now ‘post-racial’. The Nobel Committee awarded him the Peace Prize even before he had actually done anything.

And yet under Obama, America became even more bitterly racist, and racially divided. Some of this was due to an extreme right-wing reaction, which saw Republicans and talk radio hosts claiming that the new president was filled with a burning hatred for Whites, and was a crypto-Communist-Nazi-Maoist-Muslim infiltrator, who was going to outlaw guns, put everyone in concentration camps, and kill more people than Mao or Stalin.

It’s possible that one reason why Obama did not vote for the UN’s condemnation of Nazism and its glorification is because Nazis and White supremacists in America have used the Second Amendment guaranteeing free speech to avoid prosecution for their own vile sputterings. Dore and The Young Turks have made the point that Obama delayed giving any money to the anti-racist, anti-Nazi group, Life After Hate, until the very end of his presidency because he was afraid of Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh’s a long-time feature of America Conservative radio, who’s been fouling the airwaves with his vitriolic hatred of the organized working class, Socialism, ethnic minorities, feminism, climate change and liberals since the days of Ronald Reagan. It’s possible that Obama was afraid of him and those like him on this issue too. Some members of the Right, which automatically hate and despise the UN as anti-American anyway, would automatically seize on any support Obama gave to the resolution as showing his determination to exterminate the White race. Even though Israel, which America wholeheartedly supports, had also voted for it.

But the real reason is undoubtedly what USA News said it was: the Americans were afraid Russia would use the resolution to launch attacks on its neighbours. Which also include Ukraine. The Maidan Revolution, which overthrew the previous, pro-Russian Ukrainian president and installed the present nationalist, pro-Western regime, was a carefully staged coup, partly orchestrated by Victoria Nuland, the American ambassador, and the American embassy, as well as pro-democracy organisations like those of George Soros and the National Endowment for Democracy. The NED is a quasi-governmental organization, which William Blum has shown in his books has taken over the CIA’s role of overthrowing awkward foreign government the Americans don’t like.

And the coalition now governing Ukraine includes real, unreconstructed Nazis, who are every bit as violent and vicious as those in the West. They proudly wear the uniforms of the auxiliary SS regiments in which many Ukrainian nationalists served during the Second World War. And the beat and persecute trade unionists, ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, and real democrats.

Russian forces are in the Ukraine, but they are there very much to protect ethnic Russians from attack and persecution from the Ukrainian nationalists. It’s why they’ve stayed in the east of the country. If Putin was really set on reconquering Ukraine for a new, Soviet empire, he’d be in Kiev by now, rather than the Donbass.

I’m therefore very sure that this resolution was voted down by Obama, because of the threat it posed to American attempts to interfere with Ukraine, and contain or break Russia as a geopolitical power. And in so doing, Obama also gave a little more help to the Fascists that ran amok in Charlottesville the Friday before last.

Another Angry Voice on Cameron’s Failure to Honour Nuclear Test Victims

February 20, 2014

David Cameron Divisiveness Nuclear Test Veterans

The Angry Yorkshireman has posted up another excellent article, ‘David Cameron and Divisiveness’, on Cameron’s refusal to recognise and honour the sacrifice and suffering endured by the thousands of British servicemen, who took part in nuclear tests. The article begins

In February 2014 David Cameron outright refused to recognise the sacrifices made by some 10,000 British military personnel that were exposed to intense levels of radiation during the 1950s and 1960s.

These men were ordered to do things like watch nuclear detonations at close range, fly aircraft through mushroom clouds, handle radioactive materials and explore blast zones, all with no protective gear.

Many hundreds have died of cancer and other radiation related illnesses but this isn’t even the most horrifying legacy. Due to the genetic damage these men sustained, the families of many of these men have been affected by birth defects, meaning that the legacy of suffering is continuing down the generations.

Many other countries have begun to recognise the suffering inflicted on their military personnel due to radiation exposure, but the United Kingdom steadfastly refuses to offer recompense to our nuclear veterans.

A pressure group of victims and their families called Fallout has been calling for some recognition for the nuclear veterans and their families, but their concerns have been stonewalled by the government.

The Fallout campaign group have asked for the creation of a £25 million benevolent fund to help descendents that are born with genetic illnesses, a campaign medal for nuclear test veterans and a “thank you” from the Prime Minister.
The government have refused to engage with the group, and David Cameron has refused to even publicly thank the surviving veterans, perhaps out of fear that the the slightest hint of recognition would be the first step on the path to awarding these men compensation, which would hardly be unprecidented given that the United States government have been compensating their nuclear test veterans.

David Cameron’s excuse for refusing to acknowledge the nuclear test victims is teeth grindingly bad, even by his appalling standards. Here’s what he said:

“It would be divisive to offer nuclear test veterans this level of recognition for being involved in this project, when those who have undertaken other specialist duties would not be receiving the same.

The full article is at http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/david-cameron-and-divisiveness.html. It’s well worth reading.

This clearly is less of a reason than an excuse. The Irate Yorkshireman then goes on to show how it would not stop other servicemen, who have performed equally dangerous duties, from also demanding fair recognition for their sacrifices. He also states that Cameron’s statement is based on the same logic that saw the members of the Arctic Convoys to the Soviet Union during the War denied a medal for their great contribution to the war effort.

The Yorkshireman concluded:

The refusal to even thank these men, and David Cameron’s ludicrous “divisiveness” narrative are yet more demonstrations of the absolute contempt the Tories and the establishment classes have for the disposable “lower orders”.

This is undoubtedly at the heart of Cameron’s refusal to acknowledge their suffering – an aristocratic contempt for ‘commoners’ that sees them purely as cannon fodder, whose purpose is to obey without question their superiors, who must not be criticised for their mistakes, incompetence or indifference to the suffering of the men and women they command.

I also think there’s slightly more to it than that.

Opposition to Nuclear Power

Firstly, it strikes me that Cameron is probably afraid of reviving the remaining, smouldering anti-nuclear feelings. The nuclear industry is, after all, big business, and Cameron’s government has done its best to encourage further investment in nuclear energy and the construction of nuclear power stations. The French nuclear power company, that has been strongly supported by the British government in this, is due to start building another power stations at Hinckley point in Somerset, for example. The last thing the government wants is more protestors standing outside parliament, their council office and the power plants themselves waving placards and pointing to the possible health risks and dangers of nuclear power.

Fears of a CND Revival

Similarly, it also seems to me that Cameron is afraid of the lingering shadow cast by CND in the 1980s and 1950s, and the legacy of the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common. There is still considerable opposition to nuclear weapons despite the reduction in nuclear arms after the collapse of Communism and the ending of the Cold War. A little while ago there was some controversy when the government decided that it was going to acquire a few more, upgraded nuclear missiles for Britain’s defence. I doubt very much if Cameron and the rest of the Coalition want a revival of CND and more protestors camped outside British military bases.

Damage to Reputation and Wallets of British Government, Military and Civil Servants

Most of all, I suspect that what Dave and his party really fear is the possible damage to the reputation of past politicians and civil servants, and claims for compensation from the victims of the tests and their families. British officialdom’s culture of secrecy always appeared to me to have a very strong element of the ruling classes trying to protect themselves and their pensions from criticism and attack from the people their decisions have harmed. By acknowledging the sacrifice and suffering of these servicemen, it strikes me that Cameron is also afraid this would mean that the government accepts, if only partly, its responsibility for their legacy of health problems and the congenital diseases passed on to their children. This could lead to claims for compensation, possible prosecution of the politicians, civil servants and senior military staff behind the policy.

Polynesian Victims of Nuclear Tests

Such dissatisfaction and litigation would not just be confined to British servicemen. I believe that some of the Polynesian islands, where the British tested their nuclear bombs were inhabited before the tests. Their indigenous peoples were forcible removed from their homes. The intense levels of radioactivity left by the tests has meant that they cannot return. They are permanently exiled from their native soil and the land of their ancestors. It is possible that Cameron fears that if he acknowledges the debt the government owes its servicemen for their part in the nuclear tests, these indigenous peoples would also raise embarrassing and expensive demands from the British government for the suffering they have endured through displacement and exile from their destroyed island homes.

Unethical Nuclear Testing on Civilians in America and Possibly Oz

I also wonder if Cameron is also afraid that questions about the activities of the British military for experimentation on its servicemen would stop there. IN the 1990s when the American files on nuclear testing were fully opened to the public under the Freedom of Information Act, it also revealed some highly unethical and monstrous experiments by the American armed forces and their civilian masters on the poor and disadvantaged, including those from ethnic minorities. I remember reading an article in New Scientist about this, circa 1995. The article reported the case where an Indian woman was taken into what she believed was a specialist hospital for treatment for her condition. In fact it was a secret nuclear facility, and the scientists were actually injecting her with radioactive material in order to test its effect on the human body. I’ve also got a feeling that some of those involved in this project may, like so many other scientist, have come from the Third Reich. There were also allegations a little while ago in Australia that the British and Aussie authorities used severely mentally retarded people as test subjects during nuclear bomb tests Down Under. Others have looked into this and found that there is absolutely no evidence that these people were used in this way. Nevertheless, there is the lingering question of whether the British civilian and military authorities also carried on similar, unethical experiments in the general British population.

Germ Warfare at Porton Down

And not just nuclear experiments. Questions have also been raised about the biological warfare experiments conducted by Porton Down. These have included injecting servicemen with a potentially lethal disease, which the troops were told was merely influenza, in order to test the possible results of biological warfare. They have also released various strains of ‘flu into the general population in order to research the progress of germ weapons through the British population. At least one person may have died as a result. As with the victims of the nuclear tests, this raises issues of the morality of the experiments themselves, the ethical culpability of the scientists administering the tests and the military and civilian authorities responsible for them. The victims of these tests may also possibly be liable for compensation in the same way as the victims of the nuclear tests. They also raise the same questions about what other experiments went on under secrecy at Porton Down.

Acknowledgement of Soldier’s Role in Nuclear Tests Raises Doubts about Culpability of Entire Establishment in Nuclear and Biological Experimentation

This is what Cameron clearly fears is divisive: the possibility that, simply by acknowledging the sacrifice and suffering of the military victims of British nuclear testing and their families, he could be opening the door for further questions about the government’s wider nuclear policy for defence and energy, questions and possible claims for compensation and prosecution by the Polynesian peoples, whose homes and traditional way of life has been destroyed by imperialist militarism, as well as possible demands for the investigation of germ warfare experiments by Porton Down. And behind those is the issue of whether even further, darker, and completely immoral nuclear and biological experimentation has been carried out by the British government on its poor, disabled and non-White, as was done in America.

And worst of all, there would be immense damage to the reputation, careers and pensions of the senior military officers, civil servants and MPs responsible for this, as well as the commercial damage to the firms that manufactured these weapons. And in Cameron’s rarefied world of aristocratic and upper middle class privilege, that’s the real threat. We really can’t have the proles questioning their superiors and putting them on trial, can we?

Christianity, Atlantic Slavery and Abolition

February 13, 2008

‘We will be slaves no more

Since Christ has made us free

Has nailed our tyrants to the cross

And bought our liberty’,

– Popular slave song.

 Last year, 2007, was the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade in the British empire in 1807. A number of British cities involved in the trade staged special exhibitions and events marking abolition. At the beginning of the year, there was a special service of remembrance attended by the Queen and leading British politicians held at Westminster abbey. Frank Walton over at Atheism Sucks mentioned that last month, January, was Black History month. In Britain Black History month has been October for the past couple of years. Given the immense importance of the abolition of slavery has had in shaping American and European attitudes towards slavery, freedom, race and human dignity, I thought I’d also review the immense contribution Christianity made to regulating the trade in an attempt to make it more humane, and finally to abolishing it all together. This was done by Christians of a variety of denominations – Roman Catholics, Quakers, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists and Moravians.  There had, it is true, been revolts by slaves long before Christians campaigned for the abolition of slavery, but these were revolts by slaves against their own enslavement, not against slavery as an institution. The 18th and 19th century abolitionist campaigns went beyond this, demanding not just the liberation of slaves, but the complete end to slavery as a social institution.

Regulation of Slavery by Roman Catholicism

As plantation slavery emerged with the conquest of the Americas by the Europeans, so the Papacy attempted to regulate it and ameliorate its excesses for Roman Catholics. The Church condemned either the trade itself, or slavery, in 1462, 1741, 1815 and 1839. 1 In the Spanish empire, the legal position of slaves was essentially a continuation of the medieval legal provisions established in the common law code of 1250, Las Siete Partidas. This included rights for the slaves, and their masters’ obligations towards them. Furthermore, the Roman Catholic Church recognised slaves’ humanity and demanded their humane treatment. 2 A Roman Catholic Caribbean synod of 1622 further codified the legal position of slaves, establishing sanctions for masters who prevented their slaves from attending mass or receiving religious instruction on Feast Days. 3 The Spanish law code of 1789 stipulated that masters had to encourage their slaves to marriage and provided for the slave’s purchase of their freedom in instalments in a process termed coartacion, although even after liberation the slave remained a second-class citizen, unable to carry arms, and forced to wear a certain type of dress and with some legal obligations towards their former masters. 4 Slaves were also able to gain their freedom through co-operation with their masters or the authorities in certain criminal cases. Slaves accused of crimes, even murder, enjoyed the same rights of prosecution and trial as free people. There was also a limitation on the punishment inflicted on slaves who failed to perform their duties. By law a slave could only be given a maximum of 25 lashes, in such away that they did not bruise nor draw blood. Slaves who escaped to Cuba to embrace Roman Catholicism were protected by a royal order of 1733. 5 Slaves also often enjoyed the same rights to holidays and free days as the rest of society. In Brazil slaves were free on Sundays and all holidays, and were allowed to work for themselves to build up money in order to purchase their freedom. 6 Furthermore, in Brazil slaves were married in church. Slave families could not be separated by sale. Their murder at the hands of a sadistic master was prohibited. 7 Blacks and people of mixed race enjoyed a freedom in Spain that they did not have further north. They weren’t just labourers, but were also skilled craftsmen, soldiers, musicians and even became priests and judges. ‘All these things were possible to the slave before the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, and it was for this reason (amongst others) that emancipation in Iberian domonions occurred without violence, bloodshed or civil war.’ 8

Protestant Insistence on Equality of Christians Regardless of Race

The Protestant churches too initially insisted on the full humanity of the slave. The Dutch Reformed Church at the 17th century synod of Dort declared that slaves who converted to Christianity ‘ought to enjoy equal rights of liberty with other Christians.’ 9 This racial equality even existed in Cape Colony, long before the rise of apartheid. In the 17th century the mixed race children of European fathers were freed when they reached adulthood, provided that they spoke Dutch and were confirmed members of the church.  ‘During the early the period freed slaves of mixed ancestry were not viewed as a separate ethnic group; they had all the civil rights of whites, with whom they intermarried, although this situation changed in the 18th century.’ 10

Denial of Slaves’ Equality 

This situation changed in the 17th and 18th centuries as the planters became reluctant to see their slaves enjoy the possibility of liberty that could be offered by conversion to Christianity. In Jamaica slaves were given very little free time to cultivate their own plots of land, and were discouraged from Christian, or indeed any other religious practices. 11 Marriage was discouraged and promiscuity encouraged, in order to increase their numbers and their profitability by selling members of a slave family separately. It was also feared that family life would give them a place in society and give them ideas above their station. 12 Initially, the churches collaborated with this attitude. ‘In the meantime, the Anglican clergy generally took the path of discretion and exhorted the slaves to please their masters by working hard, and to accept with resignation their earthly lot which, whether predestined by God ornot, had somehow devolved upon them.’ 13 The Anglican Thomas Secker declared in 1740 that ‘Scripture, far from making any alteration in civil rights, expressly directs taht every man abide in the condition wherein he is called, with great indifference of mind concerning outward circumstances.’ 14

Christian Opposition to Slavery and the Slave Trade 

This was not the attitude of other Christian denominations, however. Although George Fox, the founder of the Quaker faith, in his visit to Barbados in 1671 had told the slaves he tried to convert to ‘to be subject to their masters and governors’, by the late 17th century Quakers were opposed to slavery. 15 This was not such a great step for them. Although Fox accepted slavery, he strongly believed that masters had a duty to treat their slaves humanely, and that they should be freed after a certain period of time. 16 They came to this view from their conviction that Christ had died for all humanity, regardless of colour. ”Christ died for all,’ declaimed the great Quaker Geroge Fox, ‘for the Taiwanese and for the blacks as for you that are called whites.” 17 In 1680 the Quaker Morgan Godwyn stated that ‘Negro’s are men, and therefore are invested with the same right … that being thus qualified and invested to deprive them of this right is the highest injustice.’ 18 In 1727 the Quakers resolved that involvement in slavery or the slave trade ‘is not a commendable nor allowed practice, and is therefore censured by this meeting.’ 19 Nevertheless, some Quakers continued to own slaves, although many firmly rejected their personal involvement with the trade. Dr. John Lettsom, for example, who had been born into a slave-owning family in Tortola, freed his slaves in 1767 after his return from England, where he had gone to receive his education and medical training. 20 In 1776 the Quakers requested everyone who participated in the slave-trade to resign their membership of the Society. 21 Other Christian leaders also stressed the common humanity of slaves. The Boston judge Samuel Sewall, a Presbyterian, wrote an early anti-slavery tract explicitly based on the Bible, The Selling of Joseph in 1700. 22 The Methodist preacher George Whitefield exhorted Whites to consider slave children as the equals of their own. ‘Think your children are in any way better by nature than the poor negroes? No! In no wise! Blacks are just as much, and no more, conceived and born in sin, as white men are; and both, if born and bred up here, I am persuaded, are naturally capable of the same improvement.’ 23

The greatest opposition to the slave trade, however, came from the Anti-Slavery Society, founded in 1756. This group won a major victory in the 1772 legal decision regarding the slave, James Somerset. Somerset had been brought to England by his master, from whom he escaped. He was then recaptured, and faced export for sale in Jamaica. After a lengthy trial, the court ruled that there was no provision supporting slavery in English law, and Somerset was freed. Although it was not a victory for abolition, it did reinforce opposition to slavery in Britain. 24

The leaders of the British anti-slavery campaign were William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and John Newton, a former captain of a slave ship and Anglican priest. Wilberforce had been elected an MP for Hull in 1780. 25 A favourite figure in British high society and a gambler, Wilberforce experienced a profound religious conversion in 1785 and contacted John Newton, then the rector of Olney, about becoming an Anglican priest in 1785. 26 Newton persuaded him to continue in his political career, but combine it with his Christian principles. In a letter to Samuel Cowper of January 1786, Newton stated ‘I hope the Lord will make him a blessing, both as a Christian and as a statesman. How seldom do these characters coincide! But they are not incompatible.’ 27 Newton was not to be disappointed. Convinced of the fundamental evil of slavery, Wilberforce began a long parliamentary campaign against the slave trade, submitting bills against it in 1788, 1791, 1795, 1796, 1797, 1798, 1798, 1799 and 1802. 28 The Quakers had, already, called for the formation of a committee at their London Yearly Meeting in 1783 to draft a petition to parliament to outlaw the slave trade. 29 Another pillar of the British anti-slavery campaign was Thomas Clarkson. Clarkson was the son of an Anglican curate, was going to enter the church himself before he turned his energies to attacking the slave trade. 30 Indefatiguable in gathering information on the ‘abominable trade’, Clarkson travelled to slaving ports around Britain and even several times to Africa interview the captains and crew of slave ships. In his career he searched 317 to find a willing witness to the slave trade. 31 Wilberforce and Clarkson were supported in their efforts by John Newton and the founder of Methodism, John Wesley. Newton, the reformed captain of a slave ship, supported the Abolitionist campaign with the 1788 pamphlet, Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade. 32 In it, Newton vividly described the appalling death rate among slaves and crew aboard the slave ships, and the rape and sexual abuse of slave women. Attacking notions that the abuse of African women was acceptable, as they lacked the sensibility of White women, Newton stated firmly ”I dare contradict them in the strongest terms … I have lived long and conversed much among these supposed savages. I have often slept in their towns … with regard to teh women in Sherbro where I was the most acquainted, Ihave seen many instances of modesty and even delicacy which would not disgrace an English woman.’ 33 Newton’s pamphlet was strongly supported by the Anti-Slavery Society, then called The Society for Effcting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, which sent unsold copies of it to every MP, both in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. 34 In February, he gave his personal testimony on the slave trade to a Privy Council established by parliament to investigate it. 33 Newton further corresponded with Phillips, the president of the Society, and gave further evidence before a parliamentary select committee in 1790. 35 For Newton, the people of the Sherbro district ‘are in a degree civilised, often friendly, and may be trusted where they have been previously deceived by the Europeans. I have lived in peace and safety amongst them when I have been the only White man amongst them for a great distance.’ 36

 18th Century Materialist Scientific Racism

Although this may strike contemporary readers as rather patronising, it is very far from the racist views of Black Africans generally held in the 18th century. The 1797 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica declared that ‘vices the most notorious seem to be the portion of this unhappy race: idleness, treachery, revenge, cruelty, impudence, stealing, lying, profanity, debauchery, nastiness adn intemperance, are said to have extinguished the principles of natural law, and to have silenced the reproofs of conscience. They are strangers to every sentiment of compassion, and are an awful example of the corruption of man when left to himself.’ 37 Freethinkers shared this prejudiced. M. Le Romain’s entry ‘Negre‘ in Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopedie declared that ‘they appear to constitute a new species of mankind’, describing them as the ‘wicked people that inhabits the African meridian’ before going on to describe scientific attempts to discover the cause of their darker complexion. 38 The great sceptical philosopher David Hume also assumed that Blacks were inferior, once describing a Black Jamaican who was admired for his great intellect as ‘admired for very slender accomplishments, like a parrot, who speaks a few words plainly.’ 39 The racist language of European secular intellectuals like Hume was in sharp contrast to the Christian abolitionists, such as John Wesley, James Ramsay and Granville Sharp, who identified this racial inferiority with materialistic philosophy and Hume and Voltaire, and viewed their campaign for abolition as a vindication of Christianity, moral accountability and the unity of humanity. 40 Sharp was a lawyer who specialised in representing slaves, and was a vigorous opponent of those who denied the divinity of Christ. 41

The Anti-Slavery Society and John Wesley 

The abolitionists also included the notable evangelical Anglican poet and educationalist, Hannah More. Their badge, showing a chained African slave wearing only a loin cloth, kneeling with the slogan ‘Am I not a man and a brother’, was designed by the great porcelain manufacturer William Wedgewood. They also had the full support of John Wesley. On the journey to and from Leatherhead in London to deliver his sermon of Wednesday, 23April 1791, Wesley read the autobiography of the former slave, Olaudah Equiano, known in his day as Gustavus Vassa, the Interesting Narrative, which he helped finance. 42 As Wilberforce was preparing for the 1791 antislavery debate, Wesley wrote him a letter of encouragement. The letter gave a frank statement of Wesley’s view of slavery, and of the righteousness of Christian opposition to it:

 ‘But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God: O be not weary of well doing. Go on, in the name of God, and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

Reading this morning a tract wrote me by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance, that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redess; it being a law in all our Colonies that the oath of a black against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this!’ 43 Wesley had become convinced of the iniquity of slavery in 1772 after reading a work by the great Quaker anti-slavery writer, Anthony Benezet. He expounded his opposition to it in the book, Thoughts on Slavery, asking ‘did the Creator intend that the noblest creatures in the visible world should live such a life as this? … I absolutely deny all slave-holding to be consistent with any degree of natural justice.’ 44 In 1784 the Wesleyan Connexion in America threatened to expell slave-owners, though it later backed down. 45

Success of Wilberforce’s Campaign against British Slave Trade 

As well as acting against the prevailing sceptical, scientific view of Black’s racial inferiority, Wilberforce and his Christian allies against the slave trade also faced opposition from the secular political establishment. Lord Melbourne declared that ‘things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to invade public life.’ 46 Secular opinion viewed the abolitionists very much as do-gooding religious fanatics. In the 1820s and 1830s opponents of the anti-slavery campaign described it as ‘philanthropic’ and ‘visionary’ in a pejorative sense. In 1805 Wilberforce succeeded in persuading the Prime Minister, William Pitt, to outlaw the selling of slaves to Dutch Guinea and a group of French islands. Then, due to the efforts of the evangelical James Stephen, the slave trade was finally outlawed in the British empire on the 1st May 1807. The Duke of Norfolk declared it to be a ‘humane and merciful act’ and considered it no accident that the slave trade had been outlawed during Holy Week, which celebrated ‘that stupendous instance of mercy towards mankind, the redeption of the world by His death upon the Cross.’ 47

Christian Missions to the Caribbean

After the abolition of the slave trade, Wilberforce and the Anti-Slavery Society turned their attention to attacking slavery itself, aided by Black Christians themselves who drew on Christianity to resist slavery. Although the planters in the Caribbean had been unwilling to allow Christian evangelism amongst their slaves, this changed during the 18th century. Christian missionary work amongst the slaves in the British Caribbean effectively began in 1753 when two Jamaican planters invited the Moravians to teach their slaves Christianity. 48 The Moravians were then followed by missionaries of other denominations, including Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists. The Wesley Missionary Society was founded in Jamaica in 1789. They were especially active in attempts to bring the Gospel to Jamaican slaves, and improve their physical condition and material environment. 49 In Antigua Wesleyan Methodism was run between the death of its founder, Nathaniel Gilbert and the arrival of his official replacement, by a series of gifted female slave preachers, very much in the spirit of the early Christian church. 50 They were joined by two Black American Baptist preachers, George Lisle and Moses Baker, who founded the Native Baptist Movement. Concerned at the mixture of orthodox Christianity and what was perceived as African paganism in their doctrines, the Jamaican government invited the Baptist Missionary Society in England to send more orthodox preachers and missionaries to the country. This resulted in the formation of the Jamaican Baptist Mission in 1814. A decade later, in 1824 the Presbyterian Church of Jamaica was founded, soon followed by the Congregationalists. 51

Missionaries’ Concern to Protect Slaves and Improve their Conditions

In general, the Nonconformist denominations in Jamaica worked together to protect slaves from excessive cruelty and to improve their condition by instructing them on the sanctity of human life and personality, the importance of self-respect and individual responsibility. The result was antagonism between the planters, who saw the missionaries as a threat to their interests, and the missionaries themselves. 52 There was initially opposition over the provision of education by the missionaries because it was feared that this would enable the slaves to read revolutionary tracts preaching insurrection. 53 The missionaries in their turn began to formulate plans for the eventual abolition of slavery. When a slave revolt broke out in Demerara in 1824, it was blamed on the preaching of the missionary, John Smith. Smith was arrested and died in custody. Although he himself and his widow claimed they had not encouraged the slaves to revolt, this nevertheless demonstrates the potent force Christian mission posed as a challenge to contemporary dehumanising conditions in slavery, and its encouragement of slaves to challenge their enslavement. 54

The Baptists were particularly active in the campaign to improve conditions for slaves. In Jamaica, the Baptists established a form of church membership distinguished by the ‘Baptist ticket’. This was a printed card issued every month to each member of the congregation, recording their weekly attendance and offerings. They also acted as passes to church meetings, which were regarded as private, and which sometimes included plans for emancipation. The freedom preached by these missionaries were blamed for the slave revolt which erupted in December 1831 and raged through Jamaica the following year. The leaders of Moravian and Baptist Missionary Societies, H.G. Pfeiffer, William Knibb and Thomas Burchell were arrested on the charge of inciting the revolt. However, the government found that there was nothing to incriminate them, and eventually they were acquitted and released. 55 Jamaican Baptist slaves could face intense persecution for their faith. In 1831 Samuel Swiney, a deacon of the Baptist missionary, William Knibb, was prosecuted for illegal preaching , after he led a prayer meeting while Knibb was ill. 56 In that instance, Swiney was acquitted and the two magistrates who attempted to prosecute him, Harden and Finlayson, were struck off the Commission of the Peace. 57 One of the leaders of the slave rebellion of 1832 was reputed to be the preacher, Box, who had incited it with his preaching. 58 The missionary work of the Methodist and Baptist churches were especially important in creating the popular campaign for emancipation that began in 1823. 59 Historians of the 19th century anti-slavery movement, such as David Brion Davis and Hugh Thomas have stressed that the central motivating force behind the campaigners were their religious convictions, and that the backbone of the campaign was the Quakers, with their capacity for organisation, and the Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian churches. 60 The great historian of the campaign of Black Jamaicans for freedom, Dr. Richard Hart, the author of Blacks in Bondage and Blacks in Freedom, notes the immense role the missionaries played in educating and preparing Black Jamaicans for their freedom, and in challenging and denouncing slavery.

Christian Black Slave Resistance and Abolition

William Wilberforce retired as MP in 1825. 61 On his retirement, leadership of the Anti-Slavery Society passed to Thomas Fowell Buxton, another Christian reformer, whose efforts resulted in the passing of the Abolition Act of 1833, which outlawed slavery throughout the British Empire. 62 This act resulted in the emancipation of 780,000 slaves throughout the British empire. The British authorities were also active patrolling the oceans to prevent the importation of further slave and their export from Africa. Between 1820 and 1870 the royal navy intercepted 1,600 slaves ships and freed over 150,000 slaves. 63 Like Black Jamaicans, Afro-American slaves also found in Christianity a way to resist slavery. In particularly, they expressed their longing for freedom by strongly identifying with the enslavement of the Hebrews in Egypt. 64 This was expressed in Spirituals, such as ‘When Moses Smote the Water’, ‘Did Not Old Pharaoh Get Lost’, ‘Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep (Pharoah’s Army Got Drownded)’ and ‘Go Down, Moses’. 65 Black American Christianity also focussed on Christ’s suffering under injustice, in the words of the historian Julius Lester, ‘someone who had suffered as they suffered, someone who understoood, someone who offered them rest from their suffering.” 66 Jesus was also for American slaves, ‘King Jesus’, who would return, as promised in the Book of Revelation, to lead His people to freedom and destroy slavery forever. 67

Black Americans also actively formed their own churches. These grew out of the work of Black Methodists under the direction of Richard Allen (1760-1831) in Philadelphia, resulting in the formation of the first Afro-American denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal church in 1816, followed in 1824 with foundation of teh African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1824. These sent missionaries to the south, where they competed with the mainstream Baptist and Methodist churches, which already had a very high slave membership. 68 These churches, ran for free and slave alike, ran Sunday schools and Bible classes, prayed for the sick and buried the dead. As in the Caribbean, they acted to nurture Black autonomy and self-organisation. From them emerged the great preachers, editors, educators, orators and organizers for the Black community, talented people who turned their attention to the campaign against slavery. 69 The Bible inspired many slaves to take up arms against their oppression. In 1800 Gabriel Prosser led a revolt after taking on the role of a ‘Black Samson’, inspired by the Bible to lead armed resistance against slavery and set up a Black kingdom in Virginia. Denmark Vessey, a Black Methodist, in 1822 was inspired by the Book of Joshua and the battle of Jericho to attack Charleston, believing he was guided by God in the form of an angel with a blazing sword. Nat Turner, the Black Baptist preacher who led a holy war against slavery in 1831 that resulted in hundreds of deaths, when he was being led to the gallows said ‘Was not Christ crucified?’ 70 ‘These three revolts, therefore, suggested that AFrican-American leaders – a Black Samson, a Black Joshua, a Black Messiah – could translate Christian resources into political action against the conditions of slavery. Rather than a system of social control, therefore, Christianity appeared in these slave revolts as an impetus for liberation.’ 71 Revolts were rare, but nevertheless ‘under the bondage of slavery, Christianity provided a religious vocabulary for liberation in the formation of supportive communities and social networks. In response to the dehumanizing conditions of slavery, Christian church represented a recovery of humanity.’ 72 

Christian Abolitionism in the US

American anti-slavery campaigners also included Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Unitarians, as well as Methodists and Baptists. After the Revolution a number of states abolished slavery, beginning with Pennsylvania in 1780. They were followed by a process of gradual emancipation in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. As with Lord Melbourne in England, secular politicians decried the Christian basis of the abolitionist movement. In 1790 a Maryland congressman complained of ‘the disposition of religious sects to imagine that they understood the rights of human nature better than all the world besides.’ 73 The Second Great Awakening also had an effect on slave consciousness. Not only did it encourage slave-owners to support religious instruction and church attendance amongst their slaves, but the conversion experience itself, the personal feeling of God’s saving grace, allowed slaves to forge their own relationship with God independent of any other third party. In an 1835 church conference in Maine, 80 per cent of the Baptist clergy there identified themselves as ‘decided abolitionists’. 74 Many Roman Catholics also supported the abolitionist cause, such as John Purcell, the Bishop of Cincinnati. 75

Although southern Christians generally considered slavery to be justified by scripture, nevertheless certain oppressive details were challenged and subverted by Christian ministers and their congregations. In antebellum Amite County in Missippi, White ministers appear to have married slaves and in 1822 caused the state legislature to revise a law restricting Blacks’ religious freedom and the rights of Black preachers. In Georgia, some clergymen advocated Black marriage and family rights, while other Whites openlhy taught slaves to read the Bible in direct contravention of the state law. When the Civil War broke out, reforming clergy then turned to demanding the legalisation of Black education. 76

Lyman Beecher founded Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati in 1832 with a deliberately colour-blind admissions policy. Although the board of trustees became so alarmed at the abolitionist opinions of the students that it banned anti-slavery activities, this resulted in 53 students moving to Oberlin College, where they continued their activities. These reforming clergymen were immensely influential in their religious and political activities in the mid-West. Stanley Elkins, a historian of slavery, considered that the abolitionists were motivated by the Puritan notion of collective accountability that made every man his brother’s keeper. They preached necessity of turning away from sin and for its elimination from society. For them, the most heinous social sin was slavery, as Black souls were as valuable as Whites, and for one of God’s children to enslave another was a violation of God’s highest law. 77

Congress passed a law in 1807 outlawing the importation any Black or mixed race slave into America from 1 January 1808. 78 1834 saw the foundation of the American Anti-Slavery Society, funded by Arthur and  Lewis Tappan, wealthy merchants in New York and Boston. They also funded Black education along with a number of other reforming projects. Lewis Trappan declared that they did so because ‘we owe it to the cause of humanity, to our country and our God’. 79 It was not only northerners who embraced Abolitionism, however. They included southern Americans such as James Thome, and Sarah and Angelina Grimke. The Grimke sisters came from slave-owning family in Charleston, South Carolina. Angelina had been converted to the anti-slavery cause after reading a tract on it in 1835, and her letter to her sister explaining the reasons for her conversion was included in an abolitionist pamphlet, ‘An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South’. 80 Perhaps the most famous of all female Abolitionists, however, is Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and her husband was a Congregationalist professor of the Old Testament. A strong believer in sin, guilt and atonement, she incorporated these sentiments into her book, rebuking the American nation for the sin of slavery. 81 Even the leaders of the secular anti-slavery movement, John Quincy Adams, Joshua R. Giddings and Salmon P. Chase, were deeply religious people who recognised the importancy of the evangelical movement as a constituency for anti-slavery activism. 82 Christianity also inspired Harriet Tubman, the heroine of the Underground Railroad, who freed over 300 slaves. Of her mission, she said ‘I must go down, like Moses into Egypt, to lead them out.’ 83 The religious character of Black troopers in the Civil War was noted by one of their commanders, Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who remarked on the religious nature of their songs and that ‘behind the gentle worlds in praise of God lurked the spiritual armor of people long at war with oppression.’ 84 Indeed, after the War broke out, Abolitionist Christians were responsible in a large part for Lincoln’s re-election in 1864. Victor B. Howard, in his book, Religon and the Radical Republican Movement, notes how the anti-slavery churches marshalled support for Lincoln, with the effect that the Republicans had almost all of the evangelical Christian vote. The Abolitionist paper, the Christian Advocate and Journal, declared that ‘There probably never was an election in all our history into which the religion element entered so largely, and nearly all on one side.’ 85 Thus, ‘antislavery Christians ensured that the election became, in effect, a referendum on whether to abolish slavery for good.’ 86

Christian Campaign Against Global Slavery

The Christian campaign against slavery did not end with the outlawing of the slave trade and slavery. Despite it’s prohibition, slaves continued to be illegally exported from Africa and elsewhere. In its campaign against the global slave trade, the British government drew on the testimony of Christian missionaries in Africa. The 1848 parliamentary select committee on the slave trade, for example, heard testimony from members of the American Episcopalian Church active in Sierra Leone, a Baptist missionary from Fernando Po and Bimbia, as well as missionaries from Jamaica, Demerara, Barbados and Abeokuta. 87 The parliamentary commissions also heard testimony from Africans themselves, including former slaves, such as Thomas Maxwell, now a citizen of Sierra Leone. Maxwell described the appalling murder of his father and uncles by the African slavers who had carried him off. His slave ship had, however, been intercepted by the royal navy, and he and the rest of its human cargo freed. Maxwell had converted to Christianity, and was studying to be a missionary to bring spiritual and physical freedom to his people. 88 As the British empire expanded into the Pacific, Polynesians were kidnapped to serve as slaves on plantations in Queensland and elsewhere. The British government, colonial authorities and planters believed that the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean had resulted in a labour shortage, and attempted to correct this by importing indentured labourers from India and China. Despite their nominally free status, these people were treated as slaves in the infamous ‘Coolie trade’. Outrage at the suffering produced by the system across the globe prompted the British government to introduce legislation regulating the trade and securing something like decent living and working conditions for the indentured labourers and their families. Hugh Tinker’s history of the infamous ‘Coolie trade’, A New System of slavery, describes not only the suffering and protests by Asians against it, but also the Christian clergy who denounced it, and joined Indian nationalists in demanding an end to the trade.

Of critical importance in this campaign was the royal navy, which acted as the ‘global policeman’ patrolling the oceans against slavery. One New Zealand historian has pointed out that the commanders of the anti-slavery vessels in the West African squadron and elsewhere were either evangelical Christians, or had been educated by evangelicals. For this historian, the British navy was the most powerful force protecting indigenous Polynesians in the Pacific. The London Times in 1869 printed a letter by the wife of one Polynesian missionary to the Rev. John Graham protesting against the atrocities against Polynesians committed by British traders in the Pacific. 89 One of the most vigorous campaigners against the enslavement of indigenous Polynesians was the Anglican bishop Patterson. An anti-slavery rally in 1869 in Sydney, Australia, included speeches and condemnation of slavery from the Anglican Bishop of Sydney, bishop Patteson, Rabbi A.B. Davis of the Sydney Synagogue, Rev. John Graham of the Congregational Church, Rev. J.B. Smyth, chaplain to H.M.S. Brisk, Rev. J.P. Sunderland, the Presbyterian minister, Rev. Adam Thomson, the Wesleyan Methodist minister, Rev. G. Hurst, and Rev. G.H. Moreton. These clergymen based their ardent opposition to slavery on the Biblical injunction against man-stealing. 90 The personal efforts of many of the Christian missionaries against the slavers in Africa result in personal assault, injury and possible martyrdom. In 1874 Benjamin Hartley, a missionary student with the Universities’ Mission in East Africa was attacked and seriously injured by Arab slavers when he approached and began talking to their slaves. He was rescued by a group of Zunyamwezi people, and brought back to the mission, critically injured, by his sub-deacon, Francis Mabruki. The Moslem overlord of the district, Seyd Burghash, who had signed treaties with the British against the trade, was investigating the attack in order to procure evidence against the slavers. 91

Persistence of Slavery Today

Unfortunately, despite the efforts of Christian clergy and laymen, as well as countless people of other faiths and none, and governments and charities around the world, slavery still persists today around the world, and charities, such as the secular Anti-Slavery International, continue the campaign against it. There are bonded slaves in Brazil, and slave workers in sweatshops in Asia. Slavery also continues in Africa, particularly Mauretania and Sudan. Most of the slaves in Sudan are Christian and pagan Black Africans from the Dinka people. Between 1995 and 2000 Christian Solidarity International, a charity dedicated to the ‘worldwide respect for the God-given right of every human being to choose his or her faith and to practice it’ freed nearly 21,000 Sudanese slaves by purchasing and releasing them. The great defenders of Black Sudanese themselves have been the two bishops, one Roman Catholic and the other Episcopalian. 92

Conclusion

Thus, although Christianity originally permitted slavery, it also demanded its regulation. The enslavement of the great figures of the Bible, like Joseph, and the Hebrews themselves in Egypt and their deliverance from Pharaoh inspired enslaved Christians to resist slavery, while the Biblical insistence on the unity of humanity and their equality before the Lord, along with the sufferings and continued resistance of the slaves themselves against slavery, caused White Christians to demand its abolition. It also created a tradition of Christian opposition to racism of which the Civil Rights campaign was very much a part and a continuation. When Dr. Martin Luther King stood up and declared ‘I have seen the Promised Land’, he expressed the hope and outrage that inspired George Fox, Samuel Sewell, John Wesley, William Wilberforce, Harriet Tubman and countless others. Odiously, slavery still persists. We’re not there yet, but these people who believed in the God-given liberty of all humanity were instrumental in abolishing it in the West, and creating the campaign against it throughout the world.

Notes

1. Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett, Christianity on Trial: Arguments against Anti-Religious Bigotry (San Francisco, Encounter Books 2002), p. 28.

2. Ivor Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman: Jamaica and Its Religion (Cambridge, James Clarke & Co 1982), p. 25.

3. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, pp. 25-6.

4. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 26.

5. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, pp. 26-7.

6. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 27.

7. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 26.

8. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 27.

9. David Chidester, Christianity: A Global History (London, Penguin Books 2000), p. 436.

10. John Holm, Pidgins and Creoles: Volume II – Reference Survey (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 1989), p. 342.  

11. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 29.

12. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 30.

13. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 33.

14. Chidester, Christianity, p. 436.

15. James Walvin, The Quakers – Money and Morals (London, John Murray 1997), p. 126.

16. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 34.

17. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 32.  

18. Walvin, Quakers, p. 126.

19. Walvin, Quakers, p. 127.

20. Walvin, Quakers, p. 127.

21. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 41.

22. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 41.

23. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 32.

24. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 33.

25. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 36; Jonathan Aitken, John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace (London, Continuum UK 2007), p. 226.

26. Aitken, John Newton, p. 226.

27. Aitken, John Newton, p. 230.

28. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 36.

29. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 34.

30. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 35.

31. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, pp. 35-6.

32. Aitken, John Newton, p. 242.

33. Aitken, John Newton, p. 244.

34. Aitken, John Newton, p. 246.

35. Aitken, John Newton, p. 248.  

36. Aitken, John Newton, p. 239.

37. 1797 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, cited in Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 31.

38. ‘Negre’ by M. Le Romain, in Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert, eds., Encyclopedie ou Dictionnaire raisonne des science, des arts, et des metiers, in Emmanuel Chadwick, Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader (Oxford, Blackwell 1997), pp. 91-2.

39. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 31.

40. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 31.

41. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, pp. 31-2.

42. Stephen Tomkins, John Wesley: A Biography (Oxford, Lion Publishing 2003), p. 192.

43. Tomkins, John Wesley, p. 193.

44. Tomkins, John Wesley, p. 177.

45. Tonkins, John Wesley, p. 177.  

46. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 36.

47. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 38.

48. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 34.

49. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 35.

50. Tomkins, John Wesley, p. 177.

51. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 35.

52. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, pp. 35-6.

53. House of Commons Papers 1817: Report of the Commissioners for the Management of the Crown Estates in Berbice, 1816.

54. House of Commons Papers 1824: Demerara – Relating to the Insurrection of Slaves, and the Trials Thereon.

55. Morrish, Obeah, Christ and Rastaman, p. 37.

56. House of Commons Paper 1831: Jamaica Slave Trials and Punishment.

57. House of Commons Pamphlet 1832: Jamaica Slave Trials and Punishment.

58. House of Commons Papers 1832: West India Colonies – Slave Instructions.

59. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 39.

60. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 35.

61. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 39.

62. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 38; House of Commons Paper 1834-5: Slavery Abolition Act – Order in Council, dated 31 july 1835, for giving effect to the Act 3 & 4 Will. IV c.73, for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies.

63. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 38.

64. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 49; Chidester, Christianity, p. 438.

65. Chidester, Christianity, p. 438.

66. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 49.

67. Chidester, Christianity, pp. 438-9.

68. Chidester, Christianity, p. 439; Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 49.

69. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 50.

70. Chidester, Christianity, pp. 437-8.

71. Chidester, Christianity, p. 438.

72. Chidester, Christianity, p. 439.

73. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 42.

74. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 42.

75. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 43.

76. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 43.

77. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 45.

78. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 44.

79. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 45.

80. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 46.

81. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 47.

82. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 47.

83. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 50.

84. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 50.

85. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 51.

86. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 51.

87. House of Commons Papers 1848: Third Report – Slave Trade.

88. House of Commons Papers 1850: Report-African Slave Trade.

89. House of Commons Papers 1868-9: Queensland (South Sea Islanders).

90. House of Commons Papers 1868-9: Queensland (South Sea Islanders).

91. House of Commons Papers: Slave Trade no. 5 (1874) Reports on the Present State of the East African Slave Trade.

92. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 52.