Friday, 20 May 2016

Images of the Antislavery Movement

The anti-slavery movement in Britain began in earnest in the late 18th century. Religious sects like the Quakers had long opposed slavery. After mid-century, they were joined by members of Dissenting sects such as Methodists and some Anglicans. 

The influence of Enlightenment thinkers also played a role. The illustration below, from Voltaire's popular work Candide, shows Candide and his companion Cacambo encountering a slave who has had his hand destroyed in a mill and leg cut off for running away. The slave tells them, "This is the price of your eating sugar in Europe."

In the 1780's, the innovative potter Josiah Wedgwood, Darwin's grandfather, produced the famous medallion below on behalf of the movement to end the slave trade.

The image below, of "tight packing" aboard the slave ship Brookes, was published in Plymouth, England in 1788 and soon became an icon of the antislavery movement.

In the same year, British artist George Morland exhibited his sentimental genre painting "The Slave Trade," showing Africans being loaded into boats on the West African coast.

The painting below, by JMW Turner, depicts the infamous case of the slave ship Zong , AKA the Zong Incident or Zong Massacre (1783). turner painted it for the international Conference on Abolition held in London in 1840.

When the ship ran low on water, the captain of the Zong ordered more than 100 Africans thrown overboard in order to save the rest. The captain claimed insurance on the "lost cargo." In a famous court case, Lord Chief Justice Mansfield (pictured below), who had effectively declared slavery illegal under English law in 1772, denied the insurance claim though many people thought the captain and his henchmen should have been tried for murder.

The shocking nature of the Zong Massacre galvanized opponents of the slave trade, who mounted a mass popular movement to end it. The trade was abolished by Parliament in 1807. Abolition of slavery itself in the empire followed in 1833, but the peculiar institution survived for decades in many parts of the globe. Turner's painting was painted in 1840 for the International Conference on Abolition of Slavery held in London, testimony to the enduring power of the Zong Incident. 

The slave trade to the USA ended in 1808, but slavery continued until the end of the Civil War. British artist Eyre Crowe produced a famous depiction of a slave sale in Charleston, South Carolina in 1856. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Slavery, Disease, and Suffering

“offers an unparalleled look at the early history of Charleston and the economic region of which it was a part. Focusing on the close relationship between the pursuit of wealth and the risk of death, McCandless forces readers to reassess the economic, demographic, and moral foundations of South Carolina’s past. A riveting, if sobering, work by a masterful historian.”  
Peter Coclanis, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, author of Shadow of a Dream

“compassionate, compelling history ... Peter McCandless writes with wisdom and humanity, inspiring us not just to think differently about the past, but also to ask how similar forces are shaping the world today.”  
Elizabeth Fenn, Duke University, author of Pox Americana

“This meticulously researched and smoothly written book provides the first comprehensive history of the Carolina lowcountry’s ferocious disease environment. It navigates masterfully among social, economic, cultural, religious, demographic, military, and medical history, from the 1670s to the Civil War, exploring every aspect of the deadly struggles with malaria, yellow fever, and smallpox.” 
J. R. McNeill, Georgetown University, author of Mosquito Empires

“McCandless does more than provide sound and accessible medical history. He adds an important social and economic twist. The knot that he deftly ties between slavery, disease, and the Lowcountry environment has devastating and lasting implications that stretch far beyond South Carolina. McCandless is quick to absorb and ponder the irony that the continent’s least healthy place swiftly became its wealthiest. Rice, indigo, and then cotton yielded huge profits to a tiny minority of intermarried merchant and planter families, while “most of the population experienced pestilence without prosperity.” 
Peter Wood, Duke University, author of Black Majority.

Link: Slavery, Disease, and Suffering