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Forgotten slaves
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In July 1641 Oliver Cromwell was in Dublin, after suppression of the Irish rebellion. His purpose: spread the democracy and the Protestant faith, as well as remunerate soldiers and shareholders of the «Adventures for Land in Ireland» society, that funded him (1).

The solution was quickly found: to create large estates to be sold to the rich English. The new «plantations» were quickly made closing off the common pastures, used by Irish people for centuries.

There was only one problem remaining: what to do of that bothersome, starving and insubordinate papist population, that was hindering the privatization.

In 1652, Cromwell ordered that all Irish people were deported in the western area of Shannon; Irish people resisted, despite the arid and uninhabitable area.

«The ones who don’t move to Connaugh or in County Clare», as can be read in a British decree, «from now to six months, will be considered as blameworthy of high treason. . . and will be sent in America or other overseas lands». Who will try to come back «will be sentenced to death sentence as traitors on the basis of this law, without clergy benefits», meaning to be without last rites.

Cromwell’s soldiers were quick to see the gainful side of the business: when the dictator died, at least 100,000 Irish people, women and children included, captured because didn’t want to go away, were sold in West Indies, in Virginia and in New England, or in Barbados and Jamaica to work in sugar cane plantations.

In reality, the trade of white slaves began before. The first sale of Irish slaves, in a plantation near Amazon river, is dated back to 1612: James I of England was the first, encouraging the depopulation of the papist Island in this helpful way for the commerce.

But in 1625, the king emitted a proclamation, that ratified the must to carry all Irish rebels in West Indies plantations; according to a census made in 1637, the 69% of inhabitants of Monserrat, in West Indies, was made of Irish slaves. But was Cromwell the one who gave to the business an industrial scale.

White Catholic slaves had the proclivity to die in the tropical climate; because of this, they were supplanted by African slaves. But Africans were to be bought, meaning high costs; the Irish, instead, were free – arrested as “rebels”, “terrorists”, “insubordinate” or “delinquents”, British free trade never runs out of pretexts – and then they were preferred to the others for about 200 years.

And again, in 1742, in document entitled «Thurloe’s State Papers» published in London, can be read that the mass deportation «was an healthy measure for Ireland, that in this way has been lightened from people that could cause disorders with nesters; healthy for removed people, that could be made English and Christian . . . And a great benefit for West Indies sugar cane big landowners, that desired men and boys as bondmen, and Irish women and girls as their solace».

Many, embarked with force, never seen again the ground. There’s at least one case in which, because there weren’t enough rations, the British crew thrown in the sea 132 Irish hungry mouths. This fact is known because of the insurance dispute born on that episode: the results of an investigation said mass drowning was chosen because it could be recognized as a accident (loss of cargo) that the insurance company would have refunded, while the company wouldn’t pay anything for slaves dead on the ship, both for starving and blows. The death rate on slave ships had values from 37 to 50%.

Who survived, immediately after arrival, were inspected like livestock, exactly like Africans. But because papists were white skinned and there was the possibility for them to be confused with the principal race, they were fire-marked with the initial letters of their owner’s name: the women on the arms, men on the buttocks. The most beautiful girls were kept by their owners as sexual objects or sold to whorehouses. Black and mixed-race overseers of plantations received the least attractive girls: they compelled the slave women to work naked, «using them sexually».

White slaves were put up in the same barracks of African slaves, in complete promiscuity; but African slaves were more expensive (50 pound of average price) and, because of this, kept with relatively good care – the loss of one of them was a big economic loss – compared to treatment reserved to Irish slaves, with an average value of 5 pounds.

They were subject, for any minimum mistake, to whip and to a typical torture: to be hanged up to a tree by the thumbs, so their foots can’t touch the land and, then, their foots were wrapped up in straw, that was immediately lit up.

«Truly, I have seen so much cruelty used on bondmen, that I didn’t believe that a Christian could do so to other people», this was written by Richard Ligon, a local reporter, in his «True and Exact Story of Barbadoes», London 1657 (re-printed in 1976).

Because they didn’t live well in plantations and (instead of Africans) because they could read and write, many Irish slaves were finally employed as domestic servants, and even as teachers and bookkeepers. But this didn’t alleviate typical punishments reserved to them: they were managed by landlord with whip and stick; no one put attention on the loss of a white slave, a so economic slave.

In their home, male owners found a pleasant way to earn money, getting Irish slave women pregnant (sometimes 12 years old); the offspring born from this “union” was intended to maintain slavery status, increasing the mass of owner’s workforce, for free. Sometimes happened that an Irish girl was given liberty, but her children remained to their owner.

In the course of the time, a ‘better way’ to give a return from Irish fertility was found: owners started to couple Irish girls with African men. With this horrifying work , these landowners obtained mixed-race slaves, more valuable, that were sold – on the free market – to better prices than emaciated white papists; and more, the landowners were able to save cash money from this coloured offspring, because every mixed-race man gave them the opportunity to not buy a new black-race worker (2). This practice was so common, that in 1681 a law was made to stop it.

«It’s prohibited to couple Irish women with African male slaves with the purpose to make slaves destined to be sold», this was written in the law, because it damages profitability of the Royal African Company, the navigation company specialized in African slaves transport.

The couplings produced a local «competitive edge», that the Crown judged as undue according to the liberal doctrine made by Adam Smith, and disloyal damage to the company.

In the 1680-1690 decade, the Royal African Company transported 249 cargos full of slaves, delivering to owners 60,000 black and Irish slaves. The company lamented that the commerce wasn’t so good as someone could expect, because of the great quantity of scraps: something like 14,000 on 60,000 slaves died during the sea travel.

The traffic of Irish slaves began to fall in 1691; but had an overwhelming resumption in 1798, when the defeated and captured men from the Irish Rebellion were taken in group of thousands and sent in America or Australia to be sold as «forced-workers». Many of them were fixed-term slaves, meaning that they had the possibility to return free only after 10 years of slavery. No one of them came back to Ireland to tell the story.

In 1688, in a famous trial against Salem’s witches (in Massachusetts), between the other accused women there was an old Irish woman whose name was Anne Glover, that was captured and sold as slave in 1650. Anne didn’t speak English; but remembered, and recited it, the Lord’s Prayer in Gaelic and Latin. The judge, Cotton Mather, famous politician and puritan minister, very expert in sorcery, recognized in the Gaelic language the language spoken by the devil; this proof was enough for him to hang up the old lady (3).

«If you observe the story of the United States, you can ascertain that racism is absolutely not a little fault of the white democracy, but a FOUNDATION. From the beginning, English settlers didn’t gave great importance to the value of equality, neither in family nor out of it. The thing that had permitted them to assimilate European people from different countries, is the fixation on the difference with Indians and with Blacks. In the Jacksonian America, the president is an hero of the wars against Indians. Racism has been the engine of the democratic emergency. Today, we assist to the advent of an irresponsible plutocracy: the growth of inequalities is the fundamental dynamics of the American society. America ceases to be democratic, in economic sense. The racism is falling but the democracy is sick. It’s rotting in front of our eyes». Emmanuel Todd, French historian and sociologist (4).
by Maurizio Blondet

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Source >  EFFEDIEFFE.com | nov 04

1) John P. Prendergast, «The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland», Dublin, 1865
2) Sean O'Callaghan, «To Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland», (Dingle, Ireland: Brandon, 2001)
3) Cotton Mather,  «Memorable Providences, Relating To Witchcrafts And Possessions» (1689)
4) Emmanuel Todd, «Les Américains ont réalisé la plus grande escroquerie financière de l’histoire de l’humanité» , La Tribune de Genève, 1 november 2008. The «Jacksonian democracy» is referred to ideology of the Democratic Party of USA, founded by Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the USA (1767-1845): the president that extended right to vote to white male adults even if not property owner. Jackson became popular because of having led the extermination of the Seminole Native Americans, through setting fire to their villages and fields. Like today’s army is following the «terrorists» violating Syria’s and Pakistan’s voters, Jackson proclaimed, and exerted, the American right to follow the Seminoles escaping in Florida, by that time belonging to Spain. That created an international diplomatic incident. To defend the violation made by Jackson there was the Secretary of State of that time, John Quincy Adams. Spain asked for an appropriate punishment for general Jackson; Adams answered: «Spain must immediately decide if place in Florida appropriate forces to protect its territory . . . or to cease to USA a province that Spain owns only as a  nominal possession, and that is a place where they have only nuisances». Jackson already occupied in fact all Florida; Spain had only to cease it formally; after that, Jackson became the first governor of the State.

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