Jeebus peeps, you can do better than this

Britain has long been proud of its historically progressive attitude to slavery, frequently pointing to the fact that this country abolished the trade across its territories as early as 1833.

OK, perhaps the Telegraph no longer can do better than this.

The trade went in 1807. It’s slavery which went in 1833 in the Empire.

35 thoughts on “Jeebus peeps, you can do better than this”

  1. In contrast to the frogs. (Napoleon reinstituted it.)
    And the Danes. (The last state in Europe where it was legal)
    And the Arabs. (Operating today.)

  2. That sounds a bit odd actually. Denmark was the first European country to abolish the slave trade…..

  3. Yes, but rather the point I’m making about the Telegraph is that they have said the trade in 1833, which is actually when slavery was…..

  4. This subject is reminiscent of the similar argument about who ‘invented’ the aeroplane. Every country has their own candidate to celebrate. Depending on how you define ‘inventing the aeroplane’..

    I tend to go with Cayley, who did all the initial theoretical work in the 1780-90s, culminating in the flight of an actual man-carrying heavier-than-air machine around 1850.

    The Americans go with the Wrights, who claim the:

    ‘First powered, sustained, heavier-than-air, fully controllable, man-carrying flying machine’

    in 1903. Note that they did not add ‘takes off under its own power’ – that would bring Santos-Dumont into the competition. And there were many less controllable or less sustained flights before them…

    In fact the Wright’s major advances were in the development of a lightweight engine and in aircraft controllability rather than airframe invention. Their aircraft design was a dead-end, and they spent the rest of their lives enforcing monopoly patents on the other American inventors and delaying the development of American aviation for 2 decades…

  5. It’s popular to say yah-boo-sucks to slavery, but to be fair the slave trade was ahead of its time in promoting diversity.

  6. @Steve

    Was slavery all that bad? Lots of people who ended up as slaves had pretty cruddy lives beforehand anyway. And slaves were given gainful work and food, clothing and shelter.

    If left-wingers can excuse Communism’s unfortunate habit of killing millions because, hey, tractor production went up then I do feel a revisionist approach to the history of slavery is well overdue.

  7. Dodgy:

    ‘First powered, sustained, heavier-than-air, fully controllable, man-carrying flying machine’

    Those qualifications are necessary and sufficient. They could do it and they could repeat it in front of an audience. If after it was done others could see how to do it better, it doesn’t detract from the achievement. Remember that they astonished the Europeans in 1908 nearly five years after their first powered flight. You are of course right about the effect their lawfare had on the progress of US aviation, but WW1 was the real spur overseas and the US were not in it at first.

  8. Dennis, Geography Master and Pendant

    This subject is reminiscent of the similar argument about who ‘invented’ the aeroplane. Every country has their own candidate to celebrate. Depending on how you define ‘inventing the aeroplane’..

    Also similar in that the only people who give a fuck – flying or otherwise – have more time on their hands than brains in their head.

    In the case of slavery, those who carry on about who stopped doing it first are invariably white bourgeois types who (a) know a negro personally and (b) are only in it to virtue signal to other white bourgeois types.

    Timmy is right, this is about the level of historical illiteracy (and outright laziness) in modern “professional” journalism, nothing more.

  9. rhoda klapp

    Wenham’s trailblazing report, “Aerial Locomotion,” was published in the Society’s journal[2] and reprinted in widely distributed aeronautical publications in the 1890s, including Octave Chanute’s “Progress In Flying Machines”. The paper introduced the idea of superposed wings in a flying machine, a concept that Wenham had tested in 1858 with a multiwing glider, although it did not actually fly. In 1866 he patented the design,[3] which became the basis for biplanes, triplanes and multiplanes that took to the air as gliders in the 1890s, and as airplanes in the early decades of the 20th century. Superposed wings increased the lifting area and avoided the structural problems of excessive wing length. According to some sources John Stringfellow was influenced by Wenham’s works or possibly even by his personal communication when creating his steam engine triplane model aircraft, which was demonstrated publicly at the international exhibition in the Crystal Palace in 1868.[4][5]

    In 1871 Wenham and colleague John Browning designed and constructed what was probably the world’s first wind tunnel. Their experiments showed that high aspect ratio wings—long and narrow—had a better lift-to-drag ratio than short stubby wings with the same lifting area. Writing about his work, Wenham may have been the first scientist to use the word “aeroplane”.[7]

    Aviation writer Carroll Gray says Wenham’s work may have been an important influence on the Wright brothers:

    It is striking to note that at least four significant aerial vehicle design elements suggested by Wenham in 1866 can be seen on the series of successful Wright gliders and on the 1903 Wright Flyer: 1) superimposed wings, 2) vertical upright supports between the superimposed wings, 3) the prone position of the operator, as in Wenham’s design with superimposed wings, and 4) that turning in flight ought be accomplished by means of generating more lift on one side of the aerial vehicle than on the other, rather than through the use of a simple rudder. It is also important to restate that Wenham’s paper “Aerial Locomotion” was readily available to Wilbur Wright (as well as to Orville) in the 1895 “Aeronautical Annual”[8] which the Smithsonian Institution recommended to Wilbur Wright in June 1899 (along with other aeronautical reading material), and which he soon thereafter obtained and read.[9]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Herbert_Wenham

    In 1848 Stringfellow achieved the first powered flight using an unmanned 10 ft wingspan steam-powered monoplane built in a disused lace factory in Chard, Somerset. Employing two contra-rotating propellers on the first attempt, made indoors, the machine flew ten feet before becoming destabilised, damaging the craft. The second attempt was more successful, the machine leaving a guide wire to fly freely, achieving some thirty yards of straight and level powered flight.[2]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stringfellow

    There are couple of others people claim flew before the Aright brothers

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Frost

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Pearse

  10. Andrew – I think I read somewhere that the immediate aftermath of freeing the slaves in the US was a massive spike in mortality among black fellas in postbellum America, but I dunno if that’s true or not.

    By historical standards, European slavery probably wasn’t unusually cruel (or uncommonly beneficent), and as Harry Flashman once observed, the British and Paddy working classes and rural plebs were regarded as no better than white negroes (Elvis Costello uses the less PC term). “And little matter if they fall”, for example.

    Though something I wasn’t aware of till recently was that the Persians had more or less abolished slavery before they fought the (well-oiled and suspiciously Scottish) Spartans, which puts an interesting spin on the idea of Western liberty versus Oriental despotism.

  11. I’ve always thought the Wright Brothers’ claim was pretty decent – certainly more so than absurd claims that Morse invented the telegraph, Fulton the steamboat, Edison the electric lightbulb, and Ford mass production and the assembly line. Or, perhaps best of all, President Obama’s claim that the motorcar was an American invention.

    But I’m not going to argue with DG and JP who clearly know much more about the history of flying than I do.

    The most surprising oh-no-he-didn’t that I’ve come across in recent decades was the news (to me) that Ben Franklin almost certainly didn’t do the key-and-kite experiment.

  12. Andrew C

    “Come on Richard, even you have to admit understanding taxes is difficult, but not rocket science?”

    Candidly, I do admit that. But I am also expert in the science of rockets

  13. My understanding of Ford style production lines was that Ford was the first to apply the process to car making. English shipyards used this method for producing pulley blocks and German piano makers used it for piano actions.

  14. “the immediate aftermath of freeing the slaves in the US”

    Three million blacks were suddenly homeless and unemployed.

  15. I always think its funny that the US is held up as a horrible bastion of slavery when we abolished it a mere 33 years after it was ended throughout the UK.

  16. OT

    RoP News

    Five men who exploited vulnerable teenage girls in Rotherham child sex scandal are jailed for a total of 63 years

    In victim statements the girls described coming into contact with the abusers after being bullied at school and said the relationship became ‘one of those things that you couldn’t get out of’.’

    Towns mentioned specifically, including prosecutions, include: Newcastle, Oxford, Bristol, Aylesbury, Peterborough, Telford, Huddersfiled

  17. @Aggers

    Always thought the one-upmanship about this is a bit pathetic but in historical terms that’s essentially an entire generation of Brits who got to look at the Americans and condemn them as barbaric degenerates (for doing something the Brits’ own empire was in no small part based on and had been normal, legal stuff in much of that empire – though never within the UK itself – even in their parents’ generation) and perhaps that legacy of condescension lingers.

    Bit like today, countries which haven’t legalised gay marriage are being held up as medieval hell-holes, by people living in countries that only brought that institution in a couple of years ago and where homosexuality was variously a crime and/or psychiatric disorder within living memory.

  18. “we abolished it a mere 33 years after it was ended throughout the UK”: nah, it ended in Britain in God Knows When: some time between the Conquest and the Reformation.

  19. “English shipyards used this method for producing pulley blocks and German piano makers used it for piano actions.”

    And before that in the Venice Arsenal.

  20. Bit like today, countries which haven’t legalised gay marriage are being held up as medieval hell-holes, by people living in countries that only brought that institution in a couple of years ago and where homosexuality was variously a crime and/or psychiatric disorder within living memory.

    And in these countries, that have legalised gay marriage, it is becoming increasingly common to chemically dose and physically mutilate children to stop them growing through puberty and give them the “correct” gender.
    Progress!

  21. “It must have had an uncommonly large fuel tank.”

    I hereby nominate BiW for the 2019 Pendant of the Year Award!

  22. Like @dearieme I believed that slavery as practised by the Anglo-Saxons and other post-Roman to early medieval inhabitants had died out as a legal institution by the time the United Kingdom came into being in the early 18th century. This was also what many abolitionists believed. Turns out things were rather more complicated than that and the legal precedents may not mean what they were popularised as meaning…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_at_common_law

    Really rather interesting.

  23. “The Russians didn’t end serfdom til the 1860s.”

    (a) a good point, since in its last century or so Russian so-called serfdom had become slavery, but

    (b) a bad point because “the 1860s” disguises the fact that the Tsar did abolish it before the US slaves were freed.

  24. @MBE: that’s interesting, but the fact that the discussion is dominated by the cases of a tiny number of foreigners in England/GB/UK implies that native slavery had indeed vanished long before. Of course if somebody could name a score or more slaves in England in the year 1400 that would cast a different light. It seems to me to be a bit like the case of “the last wolf in Scotland”: in the nature of things nobody really knows when the last wolf in Scotland died, but that doesn’t stop various dates being claimed in folklore.

    I did like the sentence ‘There was Irish decree in 1171 “that all the English slaves in the whole of Ireland, be immediately emancipated and restored to their former liberty.”‘ I rather doubt that it was “Irish” in the sense of being issued by one of the Gaelic-speaking warlords who ruled parts of the island. It sounds more like a forlorn attempt to instruct them to release their slaves – or rather their English ones. I don’t suppose the decreer gave a hoot about their Irish slaves.

    I doubt if there’s a clear date for the last slave in Ireland either. How could there be?

  25. @dearieme

    Yes agree that the practicality is of greater historical importance. Interested me particularly as someone with a law degree, albeit long rusted, that I’d always taken at face value the claim that slavery as a legal institution was actually unknown under British/English law. Obviously it had existed here since long before the Romans arrived, but I assumed that was all under prior systems of law and hadn’t filtered through to common or statute law. Hence a slave brought to London would automatically be a free man and so on. The air in England being too pure for any slave to breathe, etc. Turns out that this was all a rather idealised version of the situation that was created and pushed by abolitionists to make the case for similar law to apply across the Empire. They wanted to show slavery just wasn’t “British”, it was foreign and barbaric.

    However much the law had fallen into disuse or only applied to a handful of people, and inconsistently so at that (for all the supposed importance of precedence in common law, it’s not going to work in a uniform manner when the system of legal reporting is as ropey as it was back then), the legal underpinnings were certainly murkier and not as clear-cut as the abolitionist myth. Also interesting how the notions of slave and villein coexisted well into the early modern period.

  26. and let us not forget that the second reform act made it unlawful for women who is more than six months pregnant to work down a coal mine.

    And how many blacks were sent up the chimneys as sweeps? Do want to tell me that the life of chimney sweep was any better than that of slave?

    How easy it is for the whites of today to think they were all the Lord’s of the Manor, the Gentry, and not the abused working classes.

  27. “(b) a bad point because “the 1860s” disguises the fact that the Tsar did abolish it before the US slaves were freed.”

    Not so, Old Timer. State owned serfs weren’t freed until 1866.

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