By James Gray
Sons of Confederate Veterans
American Civil War Round Table
of Queensland, Australia
Empires were founded by slavery. Great Britain could never have realized their economic value had they not dealt in slaves. The growth of the British economy from 1688 to 1802 depended on the slave profits. Without it, they would not have acquired the “necessities” enjoyed each day like sweetened bread, coffee, tea, chocolate or tobacco. Slavery brought in approximately 18,000,000 Pounds per year.
The slave trade was one of the most important business ventures of the 17th. Century. The nations of Europe stabilized themselves and developed their economy mainly at the expense of the African people. During the latter part of the century, Colbert, a Frenchman, stated “no commerce in the world produces as many advantages as that of the slave trade”. Cities like Liverpool, Amsterdam and Bristol, England were built upon slave labor; as was many of the northern cities of America. Erick Williams stated “the capital and raw materials derived from African slave trade contributed significantly to the Commercial and Industrial revolution”. According to James Rawley, the “black slavery was essential to the carrying on of commerce, which in turn was fundamental to making the modern world”. In other words, according to those men, the modern world was build on the blood, sweat and tears of African ancestors.
Great Britain became the leader of the slave trade in 1629, only ten years after its conception, and within 250 years had transported double the number of Africans into slavery as all other countries combined. Slavery was formerly established by the House of Burgesses in 1670 with law declaring “all servants not being Christians imported into this colony by shipping shall be slaves for their lives”. In 1713 Great Britain was awarded a contract to import slaves to the Spanish Indies and for the South Sea Company. The painting at right is of Dodson Foster (1730-1792). Dodson was a Quaker merchant whose first investments were in slaving. The profits were immense. Bristol, then Liverpool, England, developed into prosperous slave ports, trading manufactured goods to Africans for human cargo. By the 1780’s Britain shipped a third of a million slaves to the New World; the British national economy depended on the trade. The prices for conspicuous consumption was high. Prime field hands brought $1,200 to $11,000 in the late 1850’s; an equivalent of $18,000 in 1997 dollars. England transported annually some 15,000 slaves to the shores of America. In 1796 alone, England transported 97,000 Africans into slavery and operated more than 800 slave ships out of Liverpool, England.
New England, in America, soon joined England in the slave business. In 1663, Massachusetts entered the slave trading business, followed by Rhode Island. The largest slave trading ports in America were located in Rhode Island and soon rivaled those of Liverpool. The wealth and economy of New England was based solely on slave trading and exporting rum; and the southern most colonies were NOT part of that odious slave trade.
Rhode Island merchants controlled from 60 to 90 percent of the American trade in African slaves throughout much of the 18th. Century; according to Jay Coughtry who teaches at the University of Nevada, in his book, “The Notorious Triangle”. Ship owners sent vessels from Newport, Bristol Warren and Providence to the west coast of Africa for slaves. More than 100,000 Africans were taken aboard 934 Rhode Island ships between 1725 and 1807.
More ships made the voyage but Mr. Coughtry stated “The owners, the family members, had actually razored out the signatures of the family member. That’s a telling sign. Northerners, New Englanders, don’t want that stigma of any association of slavery because New Englanders turn out to be the most vocal abolitionists”. Bob Weisbord, history professor of the University of Rhode Island stated that Newport, Rhode Island was the largest slave trading city in the 13 colonies, with the largest number of ships engaged in the business. Rhode Island’s slave trading history, however, is not well known and is not taught in public schools.
The John Brown House in Providence, the historical society’s headquarters, was named for an American Patriot; but Brown also was a slave trader, as was his brother, Nicholas, for whom Brown University was named. When President John Quincy Adams visited the John Brown house, he called it “the most magnificent and elegant mansion” in America; built with slave trading profits.
George Whitfield, a renowned preacher and orator, stated that “Slavery is actually a humanitarian institution.”. At left is a photograph of a slave prison in England. He said one should participate in holding slaves, to “lay a foundation for breeding up [slaves] posterity and nurture and admonition of the Lord”. He said, “As can be seen in the New Testament, freedom from slavery is freedom from ignorance, error, prejudice, lust, passions and other moralities. The concept of slavery is true for any person. But, the real issue at hand is that blacks are not really human beings at all. They are not descended from Adam, but rather, are descendants of Cain and carry Cain’s mark of blackness. Blacks are beasts without rights or claims to religion, and thus, they are eternally damned by God. These factors show that blacks are not humans to begin with, and therefore, can be held in bondage”. Such was the belief’s of “northern” Christians. Northern whites concluded that the extermination of Indians and the enslavement of Africans was logical in that whites were civilized and others were barbaric.
As early as 1774 the citizens of South Carolina and North Carolina passed laws forbidding any importation of slaves. In contrast, in 1787, the United States Constitution passed laws forbidding the U.S. Congress from banning the importation of slaves into the country for an additional 20 years. This was a direct result of the influence of “New England” slave traders. Other northern states were also involved in the slave business as well. The state of New York led the market in slave trading, followed by Philadelphia, Pa.. It was a lucrative business and made northerners wealthy and powerful. The largest slave trader and owner, in the south, was actually a “black man” from Boston, Mass. residing in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had considerable holdings, a lucrative business and an elaborate home; in addition to owning some 2,500 slaves of his own race.
Slavery was NOT a product of the south as is falsely stated, but solely created and ran by wealthy northern merchants. It was not for “humanitarian reasons”, but was operated solely for economic profit, power and cheap labor in the establishment and construction of major northern cities and plantations; before being introduced to rich land owners in the south who migrated from the north.
African Chieftains who captured their own race in raids on rival tribes sold their own people for a “few gallons of rum”; to New England slave traders. The slaves were then transported on northern slave ships and sold in New England slave markets at fantastic profits; at least those who survived the torturous and horrendous voyage. Even after slave trading was banned in 1808, Northern slave traders continued to smuggle 40,000 slaves a year to America; saying little for the U.S. Government's laws and policing of the problem. A New York City slave ship, in 1858, was discovered to have landed some 420 African slaves on the coast of Georgia; avoiding northern scrutiny. As late as 1861, five vessels were seized and destroyed that were being outfitted specifically for slave trading transports.
President Abraham Lincoln freely and openly admitted that “the North was as responsible as the South for the existence of slavery” in the country; a mild admission since it was the “north” that instituted and profited from slavery from the very beginning.
It is a documented fact of history that the “Constitution of the Confederate Sates of America” OUTLAWED the African slave trade in the south completely, before the War Between the States even began.
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