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Why SS Africa became the main slave supplier?

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drgonzaga View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2011 at 17:24
Originally posted by Tashfin Tashfin wrote:

The range of the estimate, is what most historians agree upon, and the fact that tens of thousands of slaves died due to the horrendous conditions, and brutality of the middle passage are indisputable. So no one is trying to exaggerate the problem, its just understanding the scale.
 
However there has been a trend by some with right wing agendas to underplay the significance, impact, brutality and scale of the trans-atlantic slave trade in the America's, which we should also be wary of......
 
The key point of the Zong massacre was firstly this was not isolated but an accepted practice in law at the time, but more importantly the inhumanity of the treatment of slaves was highlighted and and gave impetus, at least in the context of the UK, to the abolitionist cause..
 
What politics might have to do with sound scholarship depends entirely upon the qualifications and competence of the reader for wingnuts (be they of the Left or the Right) are a hazard in all interperetative analyses. "Brutality" is a colorful noun but in discussing maritime practices of the 18th century, our modern sensibilities would be scandalized with respect to the hierarchy of power and decision aboard any vessel. Discipline, disease, and the vagaries of weather led to actions that while scandalous in our eyes were little more than the "way of the seas" with respect to survival. Mortality aboard 18th century maritime transport was a vivid danger and a major problem affecting all, not just the slaves in transport. Hence florid prose and contemporary "political correctness" should warn all that hyperbole is playing fast and loose with the historical record.
 
Herbert Klein and Stanley Engerman compiled an extensive collection of data with respect to the Triangle Trade and Jamaica--
 
 
--hence to take one incident and project it as the standard pattern is ridiculous on its face. Besides, if the discussion is to prosper then one had better be familiar with the existing literature, beginning with
 
R. Hastings and P. Hair, eds. Liverpool: The African Slave Trade and Abolition. Chesire: The Historic Society, 1976. 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2011 at 17:30
PS: Modern epidemiological analyses has placed the mortality rate overall at 5.7%  and such is the focal point as a "teaching tool" as summarized here:
 
 
Nor would it hurt to peruse this multivolume work:
 
Elizabeth Donnan and C. A. Vasconcellos. Documents Illustrative of the Slave Trade to America. 2v. New York: Octagon, 1965.
 
Pay close attention to the annotations produced by Ms. Vasconcellos with respect to the Dolben's Act of 1788 [2:585-587].


Edited by drgonzaga - 29 May 2011 at 17:38
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tashfin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2011 at 17:48
Thanks dr, again useful sources.
 
There is no doubt that the 'ways of the sea' would seem 'brutal' looking at it from a contemporary angle, but the 'norm' at the time due to the conditions of sea travel, disease etc, but the Zong affair does highlight and was used on the face of it as a sort of 'cause celebre' for the abolitionists (Clapham Sect, Wilberforce (later)) where the question of the treatment of Africans as chattel and merchandise was raised not so much on the basis of legality within the law but more broadly humanity by the abolitionists themselves, looking back at the affair.  No doubt they were seen as a group of dangerous 'enlightenment radicals' at the time.
 
Interestingly, Wiberforce was challenged himself on the basis that he did not extend his humanitarian views to the treatment of the rights of the poor, and other disenfranchised classes within British society, he saw that as too 'revolutionary' and against his support for the established order (of which he was a part of course, being a close friend of William Pitt the Younger), however that is a separate topic.


Edited by Tashfin - 29 May 2011 at 21:09
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2011 at 21:24
I found this, which looks interesting, though I haven't had a chance to assimilate it yet.
 
I find it a little irritatinig that in the first few pages he does not draw the usual UK distinction between life insurance and life assurance, but he may take the point later.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tashfin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2011 at 22:16
On the theme of transport through the middle passage, even by 18th century standards the conditions could be considered  relatively 'brutal', for want of a better word.
 
Slaves were often packed in like sardines to maximise the cargo (and hence sale/revenue), leading to terrible conditions of disease, dysentry etc..Furthermore the treatment of the slaves, since they had no status other than chattel was subject to the whims of the crew, with regards to punishments (whippings etc) and also sexual exploitation of female slaves (which theoretically, on UK slave ships, was subject to punishment (John Newton punished his crew members for the same) but not always in practice). No doubt as dr g states  the conditions of the crew would not  have been much better, and on  slave ship crews in particular the hierarchy of misery would have put the slaves in the bottom wrung.
 
Schama's 'Rough Crossings' is an interesting read, though obviously adopts a more 'popularist' historical approach...
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2011 at 00:27
Absolutely. These image shows the conditions.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2011 at 05:42
Do you know just how often this image of the "Slave Ship Brookes" has been reproduced since printed in 1788 in Plymouth for the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, Penguin?
 
 
 
 
Recall my reference to an earlier 1788 Act of Parliament...that bit of legislation is intimately connected to the designing of this print.
 
 
 
 
Why an enterprising Internet geek has even brought a parallel reference with respect to the stowage problem in contemporary long distance travel and the pressures of economic rationales:
 
 
 


Edited by drgonzaga - 30 May 2011 at 05:45
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2011 at 14:24
So, do you mean the image false?
What is your possition in this issue? Perhaps that slaves were treated kindly on first class cabins, when crossing the Atlantic? Please clarify.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2011 at 16:43
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

So, do you mean the image false?
What is your possition in this issue? Perhaps that slaves were treated kindly on first class cabins, when crossing the Atlantic? Please clarify.
 
Yes, the image is false if it is asserted as a representation of a typical slave ship because it was printed as an idealization of how to load a slaver in accordance with the 1788 legislation governing the conduct of the slave trade on English "bottoms"! Review the links provided that clearly assert both the origins and the nature of this propaganda broadside.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2011 at 18:25
OK. I got cough in another "Black legend" then, like the Dutch images of tortured Tainos. thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2011 at 18:53
An interesting sidelight on the Zong case that would be easy to miss is that at the time it would probably not have been considered murder even if everyone involved had been free men.  At least on the facts as claimed by the captain it would not have been considered ipso facto murder, though if the captain and crew had been lying about the conditions it might have been different.
 
There are numerous examples of members of a crew or passengers being sacrificed 'in peril on the sea' to save the others, including several involving cannibalism of the victims. It wasn't until 1884 in the case of Regina vs Dudley and Stephens (the 'Mignonette' trial) that necessity was excluded as a defence against a murder charge in the common law. And even though Dudley and Stephens were convicted, they were nevertheless only sentenced to six months imprisonment.
 
Wikipedia has a fair account of the case and some other precedents in UK/US law, though all later than Zong.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tashfin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2011 at 21:28
Here is the wiki link to 'Slave ship', not much in the actual entry but useful references and links.
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tashfin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 May 2011 at 14:33
Here is an interesting essay on Hygiene in the 18th century aboard slave ships, the author whilst not detracting from the conditions of the middle passage, argues that a level of cleanliness was maintained to try to ensure that as many slaves reach their destination, hence preserving revenue.
 
 
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