4.5.06

A dedication to all opressed African- Americans

At the end of the 14th century Europeans started to take people from Africa against their will. Initially they were mainly used as servants for the rich. The Europeans justified the taking of slaves by arguing that they were providing an opportunity for Africans to become Christians. By the 17th century the removal of slaves from Africa became a holy cause that had the full support of the Christian Church. When Spanish and Portuguese sea-captains began to explore the Americas they took their African servants with them. Some of these Africans proved to be excellent explorers. The most important of these was Estevanico, who led the first European expedition to New Mexico and Arizona. The people living in the Americas resisted the attempt by the Europeans to take over their land. One of he most important struggles took place in Cuba in 1512. The Cubans, led by Chief Hatuey, were eventually defeated by the superior weapons of the Spanish. It is estimated that over a million people lived in Cuba before the arrival of the Europeans. Twenty-five years later there were only 2,000 left. Large numbers had been killed, while others died of starvation, disease, committed suicide or had died from the consequences of being forced to work long hours in the gold mines. After the arrival of the Europeans there was a sharp decline in the local population of most of the islands in the Caribbean Sea. This created a problem for the Europeans as they needed labour to exploit the natural resources of these islands. Eventually the Europeans came up with a solution: the importation of slaves from Africa. By 1540, an estimated 10,000 slaves a year were being brought from Africa to replace the diminishing local populations. British merchants became involved in the trade and eventually dominated the market. They built coastal forts in Africa where they kept the captured Africans until the arrival of the slave-ships. The merchants obtained the slaves from African chiefs by giving them goods from Europe. At first, these slaves were often the captured soldiers from tribal wars. However, the demand for slaves become so great that raiding parties were organised to obtain young Africans. This of course was simply disgusting as if one takes the UK alone they had so many poor folk and now it was decided under the Church that it was quite normal; a pity they never had foresight then or if they did it was not used; reminds me of somebody I rant on about only he has no brains either. An estimated 15 million Africans were transported to the Americas between 1540 and 1850. To maximize their profits slave merchants carried as many slaves as was physically possible on their ships. A House of Commons committee in 1788 discovered that one slave-ship, The Brookes, was originally built to to carry a maximum of 451 people, but was carrying over 600 slaves from Africa to the Americas. Chained together by their hands and feet, the slaves had little room to move. It has been estimated that only about half of the slaves taken from Africa became effective workers in the Americas. A large number of slaves died on the journey from diseases such as smallpox and dysentery. Others committed suicide by refusing to eat. Many of the slaves were crippled for life as a consequence of the way they were chained up on the ship. By the 17th century slaves could be purchased in Africa for about $25 and sold in the Americas for about $150. After the slave-trade was declared illegal, prices went much higher. Even with a death-rate of 50 per cent, merchants could expect to make tremendous profits from the trade. But the diabolical way in which the British transported and sold these poor people was absolutely disgusting, and to think I was born there. The abject misery these poor folk who of course did not understand English at all must have been degrading and bewildering too; good heavens to think the Brits started all this but the Americans persisted with;is well it seems out of this world; it is not of course Bloody disgusting is more like words I would use. Now it was abolished this gruesome trade in 1805 when the second bill that one William Wilberforce put to the parliament made it illegal for any British subject to transport slaves but it was blocked by those bewigged and gowned idiots in the house of Lords. It finally became illegal in March 1807. British Captains who were caught were fined £100 but this did not stop the slavers and if a slave ship was in danger of being captured by the Royal Navy Captains often reduced the fines they may have had to pay by simply throwing the poor innocent slaves into the sea, and when I read that I can tell you my blood ran cold truly. In August 1833 parliament passed the abolition act that gave all slaves their freedom BUT only in the British Empire. I have a coloured friend in America and have been informed there is still bias towards them IN THIS DAY AND AGE. According to this reference and also this one it was supposed to have been stopped by the Brits but I did read somewhere that Royal Navy Captains used to turn a blind eye to an American slaver there was a famous case off Cape town South Africa but it eludes me now. In any advent this link could help maybe. Of course the saga of this will be followed up by me at a later date as I know that to this very day Americans still are not treated quite as they should be, and I have made this post a tad long I think; it makes for interesting reading but.

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