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1351244.  Tue Jun 23, 2020 2:53 pm Reply with quote

Considering the shift in social attitude recently, despite the attempts of some to deny the truth, maybe a section on Slavery might be welcome?

I wanted to start a little left field here. Most people might already be aware that Alexandre Dumas was the son of a freed slave from Haiti, but this time I wanted to highlight Abram Petrovich Gannibal.

No one can be sure where Abram was born, or when, but it's most probably in present day Cameroon, and was probably born around 1696-1698.

As the son of a local chief, he was taken into slavery when his father died fighting the Ottomans. He and his sister were sent to Constantinople, but his sister drowned on the way and Abram was eventually taken into the household of Ahmed III.

Within a year Abram caught the eye of the Russian ambassador, who bought him and sent him to Peter the Great, as it was fashionable in Europe at the time for courts to have clever African children on show.

Tsar Peter took an instant liking to Abram, had him baptised, and became his godfather. He also made sure Abram would have some of the best education available at the time. He even joined the French army in 1718 and fought against the Spanish, adopting the name Gannibal, as that was the Russian spelling of Hannibal, his hero.

After Peter's death in 1725 Gannibal was exiled for three years as those that took control were suspicious of him as a "foreigner", but his skills as a technical engineer he was pardoned to help build several projects.

In 1741, when Elizabeth (Peter's daughter) became Empress, Gannibal returned to the court and was rapidly elevated through the ranks to become a noble with his own coat of arms. He was given an estate with hundreds of serfs, which allowed him to retire and enjoy a long life and happy life.

What's notable about Gannibal is that he had several children who themselves became nobles, gaining high positions. His son Ivan rose to General in Chief, the highest rank in the Russian military at the time. Another son would see his daughter (Gannibal's grand daughter) married into another old noble family and her son became Alexander Pushkin, regarded by many as the founder of modern Russian literature.

The Duchess of Westminster and the Duchess of Abercorn (they're sisters) are descended from Gannibal, as is George Mountbatter the 4th Marquess of Milford Haven, who's in the line of succession to the British throne..

1351279.  Wed Jun 24, 2020 4:55 am Reply with quote

It has always amused me how much it must upset Rissian nationalists that their most renowned poet was not "purebred".

1351458.  Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:27 pm Reply with quote

Mac & Cheese in various forms has existed in Italy as far back as 14th century, and has been recorded in other countries, but it wasn't until the last decade of the 18th century that it was introduced to the US as a baked dish, where it became a national dish of sorts.

And it was a chef trained for several years in France who brought it to the US, with his recipe even served in the White House in 1802 at a dinned hosted by Thomas Jefferson. The name of that chef was James Hemings.

If his surname rings a bell when connected to Thomas Jefferson, it's because he was born a slave to John Wayles, who was also his father, and father to several of his siblings.

His half sister, John's legitimate daughter Martha, married Thomas Jefferson, and as part of her dowry she brought over several slaves, including her half siblings James and Sally Hemings, the latter is considered to have had a relationship with Thomas Jefferson after Martha died.

As for James, he was brought to France by Jefferson when he became minister to France, and under the influence of the cultural revolution taking place at the time, he was paid a wage and sent to train as a French chef. He eventually earned the position of "Chef de cuisine" at Jefferson's kitchens in Paris, serving his creations to European aristocracy and leaders, writers and influential thinkers.

In 1789 France was about to abolish slavery, and like other Americans at the time, Jefferson returned to the US with his slaves to avoid them being set free.

To compensate his great skill, Jefferson continued to pay James a wage, but after 4 years he intended to return to Virginia, which was a slave trade, so James negotiated his freedom if he were to train a replacement chef - his younger brother Peter.

In 1796 James finally got his freedom, and travelled to Europe before returning to the US.

In 1801 Jefferson offered James a position at the White House, but James refused, instead moving to Baltimore. Unfortunately, a few weeks later James committed suicide at the age of only 36, reportedly due to his alcoholism.

In 2017 archaeologists in Virginia were able to identify the remains of stoves used by James while working for Jefferson, making it one of the oldest sites we can directly link a known slave and their owner.

1351500.  Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:10 am Reply with quote

When the reform act of 1832 was passed, it was believed that many people in Britain, and particularly in England would gain the vote, and some studies suggest the number of eligible voters in England alone went up some 60%.

However, it has to be remembered that even after the reform, only 650k people were eligible to vote in England, out of a population of over 12m, so when politicians campaigned they did so by targeting people of means, not everyone.

The reason I bring this up is because you have to remember that abolition of slavery in Britain came into force a year later, despite abolitionists being active in both Parliament and society at large for decades before. A "surprising" fact of the act that passed was (for the time) the enormous compensation paid to salve owners in Britain and it's colonies.

You have to remember that majority of the people who received these compensations were people who had the means to invest in buying them in the first place, some saw them as a kind of pension scheme. While many are often described by scholars as "ordinary people", they were well above the means of most people in Britain. Many of these were also people eligible to vote and were still capable of turning the tide of any election.

The size of the compensation not only forced Britain to borrow large sums of money, but to borrow them using financial instruments that meant the debt was never fully paid back until 2015!

That means that for several generations, all British tax payers, including those who were descended from slaves, had been paying towards the compensations that enriched many families, who were able to use their wealth to produce many prominent politicians and leaders of industry in the UK.

1351601.  Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:19 am Reply with quote

Another thread about the changing language of the English translation of the Bible got me thinking about the very strong Christian following in black communities in the Americas.

Today these communities follow the same bibles that are used by all Christians, but did anyone wonder how Christianity took such a strong hold among black people when they were slaves?

While those who fought against abolition often quoted particular lines from the Bible to justify their stance, there is a lot more in both the Old Testament and the New to argue against slavery. So why didn't this incite slave rebellion?

The simple solution is that there were separate Bibles published for slaves that were heavily redacted to ensure they didn't get any ideas. So while most Catholics read through 73 books, and protestants through 66, the Slave Bible only contained 14 books in all.

For example, the Book of Exodus tells the story of how Joseph was sold into slavery, accepted his lot and believed in God and was rewarded for it. However, there is no story of the Jews being enslaved in Egypt or being led out by Moses (I wonder, did anyone ask why it was called Exodus?).

Another amazing example is that the whole book of Revelations is completely left out, so there is no story of any new Kingdom or evil being punished, nor anything for slaves to perhaps look forward to.

1351610.  Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:24 pm Reply with quote

I have never heard that before CB - got a source for that?

1351621.  Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:58 pm Reply with quote

The Museum of the Bible in Washing DC had an exhibit last year:

You can still buy a copy of the original, which was named "Select parts of the holy Bible, for the use of the negro slaves, in the British West-India islands" in some bookshops, including online ones that pay very little taxes...

NPR did a decent article on it:

1351632.  Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:24 pm Reply with quote

CB27 wrote:
While those who fought against abolition often quoted particular lines from the Bible to justify their stance, there is a lot more in both the Old Testament and the New to argue against slavery. So why didn't this incite slave rebellion?

The Slave Bible is certainly an interesing artifact, but I think the simpler answer to the above question is: It did.

The "Slave Bible" referenced was specifically published for use in the British West Indies and first recorded in 1807, in the dying years of the British slave colonies. At this point, the British abolitionist movement had long since had slavery declared illegal in Britain, had just succeeded in banning the Atlantic slave trade and were turning their sights on the British overseas slave holdings.

There had been a common belief throughout the 18th century among both planters and slaves in the West Indies that slavery was incompatible with Christianity and that being baptised would render a slave free. In practice this belief had been a factor in legal challenges to enslaved status in England, but as far as I know rarely, if ever, had any real influence under the different laws that pertained in the colonies. Nonetheless it remained a concern of the planters.

Enter one of many remarkable characters in this story, George Liele*.

Liele was born a slave to the British in pre-revolution Virginia. Taken to Savannah, Georgia by his master, Henry Sharp - a Baptist deacon, Liele converted to Christianity and, encouraged by Sharp, began to preach to other slaves, becoming the first ordained African-American Baptist, and founding one of the first black churches in America.

Liele was given his freedom by Sharp, but as the revolutionary war progressed, Sharp, a British Loyalist, was killed in battle, and Liele, fearing re-enslavement, secured passage to Jamaica with the British in 1782.
In Jamaica, Liele resumed preaching to slaves and founded the Jamaican Baptist church, unofficially becoming the first American Protestant missionary. Liele's work brought him into frequent conflict with the Colonial authorities who feared he was "agitating the slaves". Imprisoned on occasion, Liele was able to mollify the planters by writing a covenant for his church, giving assurances that membership was granted on condition that no "slave or servant misbehave to their owners". Here we see a tightrope that the authors of the "Slave Bible" may perhaps have also been walking.

As his congregation grew, Liele, working with Moses Baker, a fellow American refugee, sought assistance from missionaries in Britain to expand the work of their church. In the 1820s three British missionaries, William Knibb, Thomas Burchell and James Phillippo answered Liele and Baker's call, arriving in Jamaica to find a flourishing Baptist community among the slaves there. These congregations were led by literate black deacons, and the spread of literacy was enabling the slave population to follow news and see the increasing momentum of the abolition movement in Britain, with nonconformist churches like the Baptists in the vanguard, at great odds with the counter campaigns raised by their masters. Like Liele, these new missionary arrivals had to be very careful not to openly oppose slavery, but the Christian message itself, coupled with the growing education and political awareness of black Jamaicans proved hugely influential in events to follow.

In 1831, Sam Sharpe, a slave and baptist deacon of Thomas Burchell's congregation, instigated a sit down strike in the sugar cane fields at a critical point in the harvest, demanding pay for black labour. The authorities refused, and when some of the rebels set light to cane fields the militia responded with lethal force, which in turn sparked an uprising of tens of thousands of slaves, subsequently known as the "Baptist War". Over the next days and months, the uprising was brutally suppressed, with hundreds of slaves killed by the militia and an even greater number executed, Sharpe among them. William Knibb and other British missionaries were arrested, some were tarred and narrowly escaped lynching.

William Knibb returned to England in 1832, and his accounts of the savagery of the authorities brought abolitionist sentiment to a crescendo, while the Government saw the costs of the rebellion's suppression and every chance of further uprisings to come. Many historians argue that the Baptist War was the principle event that prompted the act to abolish slavery in the colonies the following year.

I've inevitably missed a number of steps and all manner of other important actors in the history, but a part of the story is that George Liele rose from slavery in America to found the Jamaican church that inspired Sam Sharpe's rebellion which in turn arguably brought about the end of slavery in the British West Indies.

* Variously spelled, sometimes 'Lisle'.

A lot of the general background comes from David Olusoga's Black and British: A Forgotten History, which I'm currently reading, and highly recommend (the TV adaptation is also currently airing on the BBC).

I started reading about George Liele on Wikipedia and followed to assorted other articles. Here are a couple:

Wiki is a good starting point for reading about Sam Sharpe and William Knibb

The Baptist War:

Alexander Howard
1353655.  Sat Jul 18, 2020 4:46 pm Reply with quote

There's an area of Rupert's Valley on St Helena which forms a graveyard for many slaves: not those worked on the island but slaves rescued by the Royal Navy from foreign ships.

The African Squadron was the Royal Navy's largest single operation in its time, seizing mainly Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian and French ships involved in the slave trade after the Congress of Vienna was meant to have outlawed it amongst all European nations. There was a Vice-Admiralty Court on the island specifically for the purpose of condemning slave ships: it was only closed in 1872.

The freed Africans were often landed on St Helena - but the conditions aboard the slavers were so inhuman that many died of disease.

The Royal Navy's most successful ship in the suppression of the slave trade was a brig called the Black Joke.

Alexander Howard
1353656.  Sat Jul 18, 2020 5:05 pm Reply with quote

In 1840 two residents of Sierra Leone, a British colony and therefore free territory, were taken as a slave by the ruler of the Gallinas (now part of Liberia). Lt Denman commanding HMS Wanderer was sent to rescue them, which he did.

However Denman was not content with rescuing two British subjects: he 'persuaded' the chief of the Gallinas territory to sign a treaty abolishing the slave trade in his territories, and armed with that treaty he at once sailed upriver to an encampment where slaves were held ready to be shipped out, overpowered the guards, freed the slaves and burned the barracoons to the ground.

The owner of the site, Señor Buron, took a civilised revenge: he sued Denman for damages in the English courts. The courts were forced to apply the law despite their revulsion about the trade, finally finding against Buron 8 years later only on a narrow legal principle.

1355210.  Fri Aug 07, 2020 1:28 pm Reply with quote

In the 16th century, Francis Drake raided the Caribbean, and along with the loot he also brought home many Africans who fled their Spanish slavers and joined the English.

One of these men, Edward Swarthye ended up working as a servant for Sir Edward Wynter and appears in court papers from a 1597 trial when he appeared as a witness and confirmed that he, a black man, had whipped a white man on the instruction of their master. Unfortunately we don't know anything else about Edward

The man he whipped is named as John Guye, or John Guy, and according to some sources (and it fits the timeline and area where he grew up), this may be the same John Guy who a few years later crossed the ocean and became the first Governor of Newfoundland before returning to English and becoming first mayor, then MP for Bristol.

Alexander Howard
1363123.  Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:21 pm Reply with quote

Somewhere on YouTube I saw a long explanation of the derivation of the commonplace Italian greeting ciao.

It was explained that there was a fulsome Latin greeting along the lines of our "I remain, sir, your most humble and obedient servant", which was closer to "I am your servant / slave".

In the Middle Ages, the Byzantines seized and sold Bulgarians and Serbs as slaves, so in place of the Latin 'servus' the usual word for a slave became 'Slav', or 'sclavo'. The greeting too changed, to 'I am your sclavo', which became just 'sclavo'.

In later Italian "L" changes to "I" and syllables drop out (hence Fluvius becoming Fiume and Florentia becoming Firenze), and 'sclavo' was mangled through centuries of Venetian dialect to 'sciao' and then 'ciao'.

If you're still awake by this point, it doesn't seem such an innocent little word any more.

1363793.  Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:00 pm Reply with quote

Some parts of Europe - those ruled by the Habsburgs, mostly - stuck with the older Latin and used servus as a general purpose greeting with the same origin.

Hungarians and Romanians are said still to use this. It's dated in Czech (where they prefer ahoj), Slovak (where they prefer čau), and Croatian (where they prefer bok), while in German it is by now practically confined to Austria.

Swisses say grüess, while younger Poles horrify their grandparents by using the horrendously American hej.

1363810.  Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:42 pm Reply with quote

Swedish blokes, particularly slightly older blokes that would be of the pub-going variety if they were British, will often greet each other with "Tjänare!" (servant).

1363829.  Fri Nov 06, 2020 4:40 pm Reply with quote

Seems like as good a place as any to post this

(and no, I didn't know any of this stuff either)


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