Greed and ignorance powers slave-trade apology

Blair ‘sorrow’ over slave trade

“We’re talking about an apology of substance which would then be followed by various reparative measures including financial compensation.” – Esther Stanford, of the Pan African Reparation Coalition (emphasis mine)

This gets my goat.
Let me start with some information that she might not be aware of.
England banned slavery in 1772.
Yes. You saw right 1772!
A full 234 years ago. Even before the independence of the USA.

Of course, it was not until 1833 that Britain became a trend-setter by abolishing the trade in slaves permanently for the Empire.
France had abolished slavery in 1794, only to re-establish it in 1802, and finally abolishing it in 1848.
Russia abolished slavery in 1861.
The Netherlands in 1863.
And the USA in 1865.
[As an aside Tibet practiced slavery until 1965 when it was abolished by the invading Chinese army. Are we going to ask the Dalai Lama for an apology and reparations?]

Basically put the British led the movement to abolish slavery.
They set the moral agenda.
The Royal Navy even hunted down slave traders and liberated slave ships.
However there is another date that people may not be aware of.
The Slave Trade Act of 1807 fined any British ship found carrying a slave 100 pounds, a substantial sum in those days.
And then in 1827 participation in the slave trade was declared piracy, and thus punishable by death. [but full abolition did not come until 1833]

The second issue I have is with reparations.
Who pays?
Most reparations are done to the still living relatives of those who were directly effected. A good example is reparations to Jewish families by Germany after WW2.
Or war reparations after a defeat.
We are talking here of something that happened over 200 years ago. The only conclusion that can be made is that the current British Government should pay. And that would mean the Taxpayer.

But not everyone is descended directly from only British ties. What about immigrants? What about inter-racial marriages?
I am an example in point. I am British. But I am also a 4th generation Irish Immigrant on my fathers side. Does that mean I get some money back for the privations my Irish forbears had to endure in the 18th century? A time when Britain had already freed the slaves?

The next problem is who gets paid? And for just the same reasons. How do you prove that you are a descendant of slaves prior to the 1833 abolition, and not from some that were sneaked past the Royal Navy? And what of inter-racial descendants? Do they get less reparation?
If you believe that the victim countries should get paid. My question is, how come they get paid when the people there are not the actual victims? The victims of slavery are in the USA and the Caribbean, not in their originating countries.

Paying is naturally out of the question for something that happened so long ago that population change and migration could have had a major affect.
200 years.

It is like asking Spain to pay reparations to the Dutch for their long occupation prior to the 18th Century. Nonsense.
Palpable nonsense.

2 thoughts on “Greed and ignorance powers slave-trade apology

  1. cirdan says:

    England did not ban slavery in 1772. the finding in the relevant case was that there was no provision for slavery in common law. In any case, you’re not personally resposible for the abolition of slavery, so I can’t see where your pride in its abolition derives from.


  2. Keitaro says:

    It is not personal pride in the abolishment of slavery.
    Even though I do think you can have pride in the actions of unrelated others that are beneficial to the common good.
    I do feel proud of the first amendment of the US Bill of Rights. I see it as a pinnacle of the humanist enlightenment.

    Ironically, however, your comment is supporting the intended thrust of my argument.
    “How can British people today be considered personally responsible, and pay reparations, for what was done 200 years ago?”
    Just as I can not be considered personally responsible for the abolition of slavery, and thus can not take personal pride in it, I can also not be considered responsible for the slave trade itself. [Of which I am ashamed in a similarly non-personal way. The actions of the slave trade are genuinely shameful.]

    The effect of the court decision in 1772, that slavery did not exist in English common law, was to ban slavery in England.
    Slavery in England could no longer exist.
    I know that in a legalistic sense it was not a ban, i.e. an act of parliament proscribing slavery within England and Wales, but the effective outcome of the legal precedent was the equivalent of a ban.


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