Browsing "Slavery in Africa"
Feb 12, 2019 - Antiquity, Black Slaveowners, Slavery in Africa, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Jesuits and the Code Noir

Jesuits and the Code Noir

The “Code Noir” issued by Louis XIV to establish governance in relation to African slaves in French colonial possessions was far more humane than what came before. Slaves had no rights at all under Roman law, Old Testament law only distinguished between Hebrew and non-Hebrew slaves, and the New Testament only spoke of the obedience of slaves to their masters. Further, most saw none if any difference between serfs and slaves, and used the terms interchangeably. Above all, the African was not alone in slavery as the term “slave” has its origins in the Slavic regions of Eastern Europe. Slavs were taken into slavery by Spanish Muslims during the Ninth Century A.D.; the texts of Islam, Judaism and Christianity all recognize slavery, and the Aztec and Mayan cultures kept slaves. In Africa prior to the arrival of Europeans, several kingdoms and societies kept their own brethren as slaves.

Jesuits and the Code Noir

“The Jesuits were the first missionary order to settle in the French West Indies, coming to Martinique in 1640. It was Jesuits who started the first sugar plantation on Martinique, and by 1650 they had become the second largest slaveholder on the island.

Given that the Church in France had long supported itself with the labor of slaves and serfs, it is not surprising that religious orders in France’s Caribbean colonies used slave labor to support their activities. Father Labat, a Dominican priest who directed a slave plantation in Martinique, did not seem at all embarrassed at being a slave owner, but he became extremely upset when people accused him of dabbling in commerce.

The earliest draft of the Code Noir, submitted by the governor of France’s Caribbean colonies on May 20, 1682, dealt with issues of slave subsistence, policing, judgments, and punishment, but did not mention religion at all. Later that year the Jesuits of Martinique submitted a memorandum to King Louis XIV warning him about the harmful religious influences that Jews and Protestants were exerting on slaves in the islands.

The Jews, the Jesuits charged, “have in their own homes a great number of slaves whom they introduce to Judaism, or at least divert from Christianity.” As for the Protestants, the Jesuits urged, “they should not be allowed to practice their religion in any way.”

When the Code Noir was issued by Louis XIV in March 1685, its religious emphasis was obvious. The preamble specified that its primary purpose was “to maintain the discipline of the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church . . .” [and] required that all slaves should be baptized and given instruction in the Catholic religion . . . and ordered all subjects to observe all Catholic holidays.

The Jesuits saw the Code Noir as a humanitarian document that curbed some of the worst abuses of slaveholders. It set minimum food and clothing rations for slaves, forbade masters from murdering their slaves, and made provision for their manumission. At the same time, however . . . it [declared] the slaves moveable property and stating that any personal property possessed by the slave belonged to his or her master.

(The Diligent: A Voyage Through the Worlds of the Slave Trade, Robert Harms, Basic Books, 2002, excerpts pp. 25-26)

Jan 27, 2019 - Black Slaveowners, Britain's Royal African Company, From Africa to America, Slavery Comes to America, Slavery in Africa, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Slavery in British Territory, Circa 1875

Slavery in British Territory, Circa 1875

It is astonishing to many that as their former Northern colonies began a war in 1861 upon their Southern neighbors ostensibly because of African slavery, England would not have intervened with offers of compensated emancipation due to a guilty conscience.

After all, the Royal African Company (RAC) was chartered by the Stuart family and London merchants in 1660 for the express purpose of trade along the West Coast of Africa. The RAC was led by the Duke of York, for whom New York City is named. In the 1680s, 5000 slaves were carried annually across the Atlantic by the RAC and branded with “DY” or “RAC” on their chests, clearly indicating whose property they were.

Therefore, those responsible for populating North and South America with African slaves should be arraigned for perpetuating slavery, as well as those in Africa who captured their own brethren and sold them to the Europeans in the first place.

Slavery in British Territory, Circa 1875

“It has been recently brought to light in England, by the indefatigable Dr. [Wilhelm] Leitner [1840-1899], the principal of the Government College at Lahore, that a large and barbarous slave-trade is carried on by the Ameer of Afghanistan, who is a quasi-feudatory [ally] of Great Britain, by who he is regularly supplied with improved Snider rifles and a large subsidy.

Barbarous raids are continually carried on, on the neighboring tribe of Siah Posh Kafirs, which at present number about 300,000, but is threatened with destruction. The people are described as a noble race, supposed to the descendants of a settlement of Christians of remote antiquity. Armed only with rude weapons they are unable to resist the Afghans with the Sniders supplied to their enslavers by the Indian Government.

In reference to this this subject the Editor of Public Opinion, at Lahore, wrote in May 1874:

“It is well-known, that slaves are purchased by British subjects within the boundaries of British territory, and that many a beautiful Siah Posh girl has been torn from her relations and friends, and has ended her days in misery in the harems of our native fellow subjects.

It is well-known, to everyone well acquainted with the Kafirs, that within the last few years numerous villages of Siah Posh have been conquered by the Afghan Mohammedans, almost solely on account of the high market value of female slaves from Kafiristan; and it ought to be well-known, although we believe it is not as well-known as it should be, that there are agents for the purchase of slaves, who carry on their unholy traffic even in British Territory.”

In speaking at a public meeting of the Anti-Slavery Society in London, Dr. Leitner said:

“Then it comes the case of Ameer of [Kabul] . . . and giving the Ameer money and arms, we have certainly assumed the position of a “paramount” power towards him. These Kafirs consider themselves the brothers of the Europeans – they are neither Hindoos nor Mohammedans, but is has been said have a sort of quasi-Christianity . . . this is the race that is now successfully preyed upon by the Ameer.

The slavery in the British settlements on the West Coast of Africa, which has long been a reproach to Great Britain, has now received its death blow [though] the greatest difficulties will probably be raised by European merchants.”

(The Lost Continent; or, Slavery and the Slave Trade in Africa, 1875, Joseph Cooper, Longman’s, Green & Company, 1875, excerpts pp. 19-22)

African Slavery in America

Nearly always missing in a discussion of slavery in North America is the question of how Africans arrived and who conveyed them – and it was not slave ships flying the Confederate Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The responsibility for African slavery begins with the African tribes themselves who enslaved each other, then the Portuguese, Spanish, French and British who needed labor for their New World colonies, and the New England slavers who ruled the transatlantic slave trade in the mid-1700s. By 1750, Providence, Rhode Island had surpassed Liverpool as the center of slave-ship construction, with the latter departing for Africa’s west coast laden with rum and Yankee notions, trading these for already-enslaved men, women and children, transporting them to the West Indies to be traded for molasses, and then returning to New England to distill more rum from the molasses. Add to this New England’s textile mills of the early 1800s whose fortunes depended upon slave-produced cotton.

African Slavery in America

“There are three important points to keep in mind in the study of the African-American population of the 1850s. First, we should avoid presentism. Attitudes toward working people of all races were different at that time than those we find acceptable today.

The Dutch did keelhauling of sailors as late as 1853 and the British did no ban the flogging of soldiers until 1860. The working classes in industrialized areas such as Manchester, England, worked under conditions that left many crippled and maimed from injuries of breathing dust from textile mills and mines. This left most unfit for work at 40 years of age and almost none at 50. Children as young as 7 or 8 worked up to 12 hours [a day], some “seized naked in bed by the overlookers, and driven with blows and kicks to the factory.”

Second, regardless of good treatment, being a slave has many costs which few of us would be willing to pay. Third, trying to have a realistic understanding of slavery is not an apology. It is a mistake to oversimplify slavery to chains, whips, and division of families; it is likewise a mistake to say that they were better off as slaves. The objective should be to understand as best we can.

A difficulty is finding objective writings at a time when Northern writers emphasized the horrors of slavery in a continuing regional attack, Southern writers emphasized slavery’s benefit to the African, and the bonded people themselves left few written records. The slave narratives collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s offer the best testimony we have by the slaves themselves, although, of course, memories of 70 years ago have problems of certainty.

Many Americans, including Abolitionists, advocated that Africans be sent to Africa or some place in the New World where they would be removed from American society. Toward this goal, the American Colonization Society, to which many prominent Northern and Southern Americans belonged to, established the western African nation of Liberia.

The attitude of most Americans of the time was summed up by Abraham Lincoln during the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, “I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people . . . I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

It would not be until January of 1863 that the North would allow black men to serve in the Union army, and then in segregated units at lower pay and with white officers. U.S. “Colored Troops” were often used as labor or in “forlorn hopes,” such as fighting at the Crater and Battery Wagner.”

(Characteristics of the African-American People During the 1850s: American History for Home Schools, 1607-1885, with a Focus on the Civil War, Leslie R. Tucker, Society of Independent Southern Historians, 2018, excerpts Chapter 10)

Portuguese Trade with Africa

It is said that a Portuguese merchant was the first to purchase slaves in 1441 from an African chieftain, who were then taken to Portugal. This country had emerged as the first European country and viable political unit which could raise sufficient revenues through taxation to sustain overseas expeditions for future trade relations. And, like their European counterparts, African coastal slave catchers viewed their captives as marketable objects.

The African slave trade monopoly developed by the Portuguese spread to other European powers, and eventually New England, which created its own “rum triangle” of the transatlantic trade in slaves. Thus, the agrarian Southern colonies of British America became populated with African slaves to work the British plantation labor system. It is then clear who developed, profited from and perpetuated the existence of African slavery, and where condemnation should be accurately directed.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Portuguese Trade with Africa

“The transatlantic trade affected the coastal area of West Africa that became Liberia in 1822. Before the arrival of Europeans in the fifteenth century, coastal pre-Liberia had been affected by internal and external social dynamics. The Mande, Mel and Kwa were the first linguistic groups to reside in the region . . . [and] Dei, Bassa, Kran, Kru and Glebo came to pre-Liberia in about 988 AD.

Nearly all these ethnic groups practiced some form of slavery prior to the arrival of the Europeans. [The European] discovery of the New World brought significant demands for . . . a large number of Africans to meet the demand for labor. [North and South American] Indians were enslaved, but frequently escaped. As many as 30 million Indians were killed by diseases such as smallpox and chicken pox . . .

Attempts were made to enslave poor Europeans. Some poor Irish, Scots and English were reduced to indentured servitude to meet the increasing demands for labor in the New World.

The first group of African slaves sent to the West Indies in 1510, had been bought in Portugal. Owing to the increasing significance of the slave trade, King John III activated the monopoly that had been established over the coastal pre-Liberian trade, even though the Portuguese monopoly was ignored by other European powers as the transatlantic slave trade, started by Portugal, was taken over by Spain and then the Netherlands.

Nearly all the major European powers came to be involved with the trade from the 1400s to the 1800s. It has been estimated that as many as 9.5 million Africans were transported to the Americas between 1510 and 1870.

The prosperity of the Vai, Kissi, Kry, Bassa and Glebo merchants was directly tied to their participation in the Atlantic trade . . . [and] African coastal merchants perceived slavery as a commercial action. The African slavers sent “gampisas”, professional slave captors, into the interior to hunt for slaves for their western allies.”

(Transatlantic Trade and the Coastal Area of Pre-Liberia, Amos J. Beyan, The Historian, Phi Alpha Theta, Volume 57, No. 4, Summer 1995, excerpts pp. 757-758; 763-768)

The Battle of Richmond

The author below rightfully points to the slave trade which flourished in Africa where chieftains raided neighboring tribes and sold captives – men, women and children – into slavery. In addition, Arab slave traders were well-established long before European traders found already-enslaved Africans available for purchase. As late as the 1950s, the Touareg tribe in Timbuktu was found to still hold slaves, as was its tradition for centuries. (See: The Slaves of Timbuktu, Robin Maugham, Harper & Brothers, 1961). Volkswagen named its medium-sized SUV in honor of this slave-holding tribe.

Further, New England’s transatlantic slave trade had Providence, Rhode Island as its center by 1750, surpassing Liverpool, and New England’s industrial base is said to have been built upon slave-trade profits. The State and city of New York is named after the Duke of York, founding member of the Royal African Company which existed for the purpose of importing Africans into the colonies; Massachusetts inventor Eli Whitney single-handedly perpetuated slavery with his invention in 1793. These are symbols of slavery, which the South would not have had within its boundaries had it not been for their actions.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

The Battle of Richmond

“Every record book has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

George Orwell, 1984.

The history police from Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” are at it again. Robert E. Lee’s picture, among 30 planned for an historical display along Richmond’s waterfront, was briefly removed because of protests by Councilman Sa’ad El-Amin. He claims the Confederate general is an offensive symbol of slavery.

James E. Rogers, president of the Richmond Historic Riverfront Foundation, was one of the cowed officials who made the decision to take down the portrait of Lee.

This and other attacks on the display of Confederate symbols show that the spirit of intolerance in Big Brother’s 1984 lives on today in campaigns to purify American history and obliterate any symbols of its past that do not pass the test of political correctness. The history police goose-stepping through our culture are quite willing to throw out the baby with the bath water.

What is the baby? For African-Americans, it is the fantastic accomplishments of blacks during the days of slavery in the South. Those accomplishments during that difficult time should engender nothing but pride in American blacks today. Yet that satisfaction is systematically and deliberately denied to black Americans by their so-called leaders.

Why? Because those leaders have more to gain by fomenting racial discord than by harmonizing the many common bonds between white and black Virginians.

[The] special target of black racists is the Confederate nation and any symbol of reverence of it. Thus we see campaigns all over the South to remove the Confederate battle flag from public view.

In a vivid testimonial to America’s declining educational standards, critics like City Councilman El-Amin take the erroneous and self-serving view that the Confederates fought for slavery and the North fought against it. That would have been news to both Bluecoats and Greybacks. Most Southerners fought because their homeland was invaded by those who refused to let them depart the Union in peace, just as both North and South had departed from Great Britain under George III.

Black radicals pick on General Lee, but they turn a blind eye to their own history. How does Mr. El-Amin reconcile the debasement of Lee and Washington with the fact that African tribal leaders enslaved and sold millions of blacks to the slave traders?

According to political correctness, white leaders who owned slaves moral lepers, but black historical figures who did so are to be honored. Why should we not be offended by displays of African dress and the celebration of African holidays? Might they not be a “painful reminder” of the horrible enslavement of blacks?”

(Letter from Virginia, Lynn Hopewell, Chronicles, February 2000, excerpts pp. 37-38)

 

New England’s Perpetuation of Slavery

There is little question that the origins of the American Revolution, and the later War Between the States, are rooted in New England’s illicit trade in slaves and molasses, and England’s efforts to stop the maritime competition with the mother country. By 1750, Rhode Island had become the center of the transatlantic slave trade, surpassing Liverpool for the dubious honor.

The author below writes: “nine-tenths of the colonial merchants and skippers had become smugglers as the break with England neared. Such men as John Hancock, a prince of contraband traders, on the eve of Paul Revere’s ride had for counsel before the Admiralty Court in Boston none other than John Adams, answering for him a half-million dollar suit in penalties as a smuggler.” He went on that “One-quarter of all the signers of the Declaration of Independence were bred to commerce, to the command of ships and to contraband trade.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

New England’s Perpetuation of Slavery

“In accord with the spirit of the times the British Parliament passed a series of statutes in 1633 providing, among other things, that nothing could be brought into the colonies that wasn’t carried there in British ships, “whereof the master and three-fourths of the crew are English.”

[Concerned about the rise of illicit maritime trade of New England] the shipbuilders of the Thames district met in London in the winter of 1724-1725 and formally complained to the Lords of Trade:

“In the eight years ending in 1720 we are informed that seven hundred sail of ships were built in New England, and that in years since, as may if not more; and that the New England trade, by the tender of extraordinary inducements, has drawn over so many working shipwrights that there are not enough left to carry on the work [in England].”

Linked inseparably with the venture south to the [West] Indies the colonists’ brisk trade in rum and what they were in the habit of calling “Black Ivory.” For the Indies trade was a three-cornered affair hinging on rum, slaves and molasses. Together they comprised the foundation for more ships and hence more trouble than all the politicians ashore put together.

The New Englanders had Indian slaves as early as 1637 . . . and more or less formal business developed, with traders nabbing Indians along the banks of the Kennebec River in Maine and selling them into slavery up and down the coast. It was the black ivory from Africa, however, that turned the trick in the West Indies trade and established Southern slavery on a solid and enduring footing.

The mechanics of this all-important trade worked like this: molasses was brought to New England and made into rum; the rum, highly prized among Negroes on the west coast of Africa, brought its own price among the drinkers, a price that included any of their relatives or friends who might have the bad judgment to be lying about, and the resultant human cargoes were disposed of profitably in Boston, Newport [Rhode Island] and on south.

Not all the West Indies rum was drunk by Negroes. A flourishing local trade in fur was conducted with the Indians by the extremely profitable exchange of a few bottles of cheap rum or whiskey for the entire season’s catch of its drunken owner. The tribal chiefs . . . in 1726, begged without avail to have the sale of firewater to the young braves stopped.

It is hardly surprising, then, that among the first real troublemakers of all the British efforts to raise money [to support the colonies] was a new Molasses Act, for it was molasses brought in from the French West Indies from which New England rum was made. To put teeth into the effort Parliament authorized the use of writs of assistance, a sort of search warrant covering an entire community that gave British customs officials the right to search any ship, warehouse or even private home for smuggled goods.

When the harried Board of Trade and Plantations finally decided to act, its attempt to enforce the Navigation Acts [to restrict New England’s rum and slave triangle] was the spark in the touchhole that set the guns to booming.”

(Yankee Ships, an Informal History of the American Merchant Marine, Reese Wolfe, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1953, excerpts pp. 39; 43-44; 49-51)

Fixing Blame for African Slavery

By 1689, few African slaves had been introduced to Virginia and elsewhere by British, Dutch, French slavers, though this changed radically in the next seventy years – by 1760 the black race formed fully two-fifths of the entire Southern population. The increasing supply of Africans certainly fixed the plantation system on the South as part of the British colonial labor system.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Fixing Blame for African Slaves

“So far as the [colonial] Southern tidewater is concerned, the increase in population came largely through the involuntary immigration of African Negroes. During the seventeenth century . . . British merchants and their government were organizing as never before for the exploitation of the slave trade.

The prosperity of the Royal African Company stimulated competition, and before long “separate traders” from England and [New England] broke down the company’s monopoly. In 1713 the British slave-traders gained a great advantage over Dutch and French rivals by the Asiento agreement, giving them the privilege of supplying slaves to the Spanish colonial market.

There are no comprehensive statistics; but in 1734 it was estimated that about 70,000 slaves annually were exported from Africa to the New World.

The responsibility for slavery in the English colonies must be distributed widely. British merchants, the imperial government, which defeated efforts on the part of colonial assemblies to check the trade, [and] New England traders . . . each group must take its share.

Peter Fontaine, an Anglican clergyman of Huguenot stock, spoke of it as the “original sin and curse of the country,” but urged that when the colonists tried to restrict importation, their acts were commonly disapproved in England.

Besides, he argued, the Negroes had been first enslaved in Africa by men of their own color . . . Efforts were made to Christianize and educate the Negroes, and the Anglican missionaries were expected to make this part of their work.”

(The Foundations of American Nationality, Evarts Boutell Greene, American Book Company, 1922, excerpts pp. 316; 322)

A Legendary American Sea Captain

There is a particular irony in a famed Confederate sea captain, who, in the immediate prewar times, was celebrated as a liberator of Africans taken from their home aboard New England slave ships, captained by New Englanders. In late 1865, John Newland Maffitt’s daughter Florie married Wilmingtonian and Lieutenant Joshua Grainger Wright of the First North Carolina Infantry, a veteran of Boonsboro, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville before being seriously wounded. Wright was a postwar member of the United Confederate Veterans as well as the historic Cape Fear Club; he was buried on the last day of the nineteenth century, with Colonels John Lucas Cantwell and John Douglas Taylor among his pallbearers.

Lt. Joshua Grainger Wright was also one of the University of North Carolina’s “Class of ’61,” and who are honored by the “Silent Sam” monument on the Chapel Hill campus for their patriotism and service to the Old North State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Legendary American Sea Captain

“In 1858, Maffitt took command of the [USS] Dolphin and received orders from President [James] Buchanan to capture slave ships in the Bahama Channel, the Straits of Florida, the northwest coast of Cuba, and the Gulf of Mexico.

During his command of the Dolphin and, later, the Crusader, Captain Maffitt captured four slave ships. From one ship alone, he freed 500 naked blacks and treated in such a way that he won praise in the islands and in the States.

“The courtesy and commiseration of Captain Maffitt and the officers of the Crusader toward the captured Africans were a theme of particular commendation at Key West and Havana. In the course of this [antislavery] crusade, he had captured more slave ships and set free more enslaved Africans than any other officer of the United States Navy, or of any Navy.”

In 1861, after resigning from the United States Navy, he joined the Confederate forces as a lieutenant. His initial duty was as Engineering Officer to General Robert E. Lee [and by] 1862, Maffitt was running the blockade. He pierced the blockade many times with ships like the Florida, the Owl, the Lillian and the Florie, which was named for his “beautiful daughter,” Florence Maffitt.

Captain Maffitt . . . was promoted to Commander on April 29, 1863 “for gallant and meritorious conduct in running the blockade in and out of Mobile against an overwhelming force of the enemy and under his fire, and since in actively cruising against and destroying the enemy’s commerce.”

On the night Fort Fisher fell [January 15, 1865], Captain Maffitt was close to shore when fireworks began to go off all around him. Maffitt, seeing that the parties were aboard Union ships, quickly began to steal back unnoticed through the celebrating blockade; out to sea and then to the islands.”

(The Wrights of Wilmington, Susan Taylor Block, Wilmington Printing Company, 1992, excerpts pp. 96-100)

Dec 3, 2017 - Black Slaveowners, Slavery in Africa    Comments Off on The African Slave Trade

The African Slave Trade

Sir Samuel W. Baker (1821-1893) was a British explorer and naturalist who spent several years in Africa in the mid-1870s, and helped convince the French-educated Khedive Ismail to eliminate the slave trafficking in his Egyptian and Sudan domain. Though the khedive was no doubt involved in the human trafficking which flourished in his land, he allowed Baker a free hand in suppressing local governors’ whose wealth depended greatly on enslaving and selling their own people.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The African Slave Trade

“Sir Samuel W. Baker had been distinguished for his explorations in Central Africa; and his representations of the evil effects produced by the slave trade on a country rich in soil and well-peopled induced the khedive of Egypt to fit out an expedition to put a stop to this nefarious business and give protection to the inhabitants, whom he claimed to be his subjects, from the ravages of slave-traders.

Companies of brigands had been formed that absolutely depopulated the country by driving away those they did not enslave. One of these traders had twenty-five thousand Arabs under pay, engaged in this inhuman traffic. And it was estimated that fifteen thousand of the khedives subjects were engaged in this business. Each trader occupied a special district, and with his band of armed men kept the population in submission. It was estimated that fifty thousand Negroes were annually captured by land pirates.

The khedive determined to put a stop to this, and [in the mid-1870s] organized an expedition for that purpose and put Mr. Baker at the head of it with supreme power, even that over life and death. He knew that there would be more or less fighting, for Soudan, the home of the slave-trader, would be wholly opposed to the attempt to break up their business.

April 20th, just below the junction of the Bahr-Giraffe with the White Nile, the expedition came in sight of one of the governors’ vessels of this district, and, watching it through powerful telescopes, notices suspicious movements on board . . . Baker sent his aide-de-camp to visit the vessels lying near. The result was the discovery of a gang of slaves. Mr. Baker then requested to be shown around the encampment on shore.

To his horror, he found mass of slaves squatted on the ground – many of the women secured by ropes around the neck, and amid the filthy fetid mass, not only children but infants. Altogether, on the boats and on shore were found one hundred and fifty-five slaves.

Though this territory was not within Baker’s jurisdiction, as fixed by the khedive, yet he insisted on the liberation of the slaves. The governor rebelled at first, but finally on being threatened with the wrath of the khedive, yielded; and the naked, astonished crowd of slaves departed with loud discordant yells of rejoicing to their distant homes.

[Another boat of the governor was boarded] and there seemed an awkward smell about the cargo . . . the planks which boarded up the forecastle and the stern were broken down, and there was a mass of humanity exposed, boys, girls and women closely packed like herrings in a barrel, who under threats had remained perfectly silent until thus discovered.”

(Stanley and Livingstone in Africa, J.T. Headley, Spencer Press, 1937, excerpts, pp. 110-111; 120)

Oct 9, 2017 - Antebellum Realities, Slavery in Africa    Comments Off on Arab Slave-Catching Caravans

Arab Slave-Catching Caravans

In addition to ending the piracy emanating from Tripoli, the US victory over Yusaf Bashaw (bashaw is the equivalent of “pasha”) brought an end to the latter’s white Christian slave trade. The British sent Dr. Joseph Ritchie and British naval officer George Lyon to Tripoli for the possibility of commerce and the extirpation of the slave trade, which Africans and Arabs alike would not cease on their own. Dr. Ritchie died on the expedition related below.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Arab Slave-Catching Caravans

“Yusaf Karamanli . . . held Tripoli’s throne . . . [and] ruled Tripoli from 1795 to 1835, extending his authority southward with bloody wars against nomadic tribes. One explorer, watching Yusaf Bashaw’s army returning after a campaign in the hinterlands, counted two thousand human heads on the tips of Cologhi spears. These grisly trophies belonged to rebellious Tuareg whose decapitated bodies were burned in the desert.

The basaw realized that the age of piracy was ending. Under his reign, piratical practices had already been the cause of war in 1805 between Tripolitania and the United States. It was . . . a huge financial blow to the bashaw. No longer could his treasury be supported by ransoms and the sale of stolen ships and booty.

By 1825, the bashaw found that all sources of revenue from the old trade of piracy and Christian slavery had dried up.

On March 18, 1819, the bashaw received [Dr. Joseph] Ritchie and [George] Lyon at an official audience with their consul, telling them they could head south with his ally, the newly-appointed bey of Fezzan, Mohammed El Mukni, was soon to leave Tripoli on a slave raiding campaign. El Mukno . . . was collecting a force of armed Arabs to attack African villages.

[They saw enroute] members of the fierce Tebu tribe, parties of whom occasionally descended from the Tibesti Mountains to plunder passing caravans. These tall and handsome people, veiled like the Tuareg and wary of strangers, were black Africans, not Berbers, the northernmost part of a larger group of Tebu people whose territory extended to what we know today as Chad, Niger and Sudan.

Though the Tuareg and Tebu nominally espoused Islam, they were fiercely independent and deviated from accepted Muslim norms when it suited them.

On February 9, 1820, Lyon . . . joining company with a slaving caravan, set out on the journey back to Tripoli. Day after day . . . he watched twelve hundred slaves [who were captured], most of them women and children, shepherded painfully across the hilly wastes. Mounted [Arab] overseers battered this mass of wretched humanity with whips and sticks; sick slaves were thrown by the road and left to die. Nauseated by the spectacle, Lyon took notes:

“These poor, oppressed beings were, many of them, so exhausted as to be scarcely able to walk; their legs and feet were much swelled and by their enormous size formed a striking contrast with their emaciated bodies. They were all borne down with loads of firewood; and even poor little children, worn to skeletons by fatigue and hardship, were obliged to bear their burthen, while many of their inhuman masters rode on camels, with the dreaded whip suspended from their wrists.”

Exhausted by his own hardships, Lyon was haunted by memories of the brutalized slaves. He went to the slave market [in Tripoli] to say good-bye to them. Recognizing him, they greeted him with smiles, some with tears.”

(The Race for Timbuktu, In Search of Africa’s City of Gold, Frank T. Kryza, HarperCollins, 2006, excerpts, pp. 68-72; 77-79)

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