That African American experience of slavery really was unique you know

Passport details
Lady Florence Baker, née Flora Barbara Maria von Szász, or Sass. Born 6 August 1841 in Nagyenyed, then in the Kingdom of Hungary, now Aiud in present-day Romania.

Claim to fame
The details of Florence Baker’s early life are sketchy – for dramatic reasons. As an orphan she was sold into the Ottoman slave trade, and in 1859 found herself on the auction block in Vidin, in present-day Bulgaria. Blonde, blue-eyed and polylingual, she caught the eye of English traveller Samuel Baker, who bought her.

The uniqueness of that African American experience being that it involved more sea journeys. Chattel slavery not being something even odd in the historical record.

78 thoughts on “That African American experience of slavery really was unique you know”

  1. Another interesting story is that of a Cornish cabin boy Thomas Pellow, told in Giles Milton’s White Gold. Kept as a slave under Sultan Moulay Ismael in the 1700’s for over 20 years, the book also gives a very good history of white slavery in general. People were snatched into slavery as far as Scandinavia and the river Thames. A riveting read.

  2. If you think about it in a pre cash or largely,pre cash, economy Labour is bound to be a matter of obligation rather than pay For this reason Slavery has meant a wide variety of social constructs
    ( Serfdom for example ).
    The early slave ships heading out to the Caribbean included Bondsmen on their crews and the Ottoman Empire notably recruited slaves for its elite fighting Janissaries.
    I don`t know that the experience of black Africans was elite but I haven’t myself come across quite the same industrial scale casual cruelty.
    This was carried out by Nations who arguably knew it was wrong and looked the other way. You sense this in Jane Austen or in Blake`s Little Black Boy

    Maybe the black African experience is not unique but you have not even started to prove it .

  3. On the subject of the Ottomans- the harem eunochs attending the sultan’s slave concubines were all black african slaves, just in case they weren’t y’know eunochs, you could tell who pappy was. The sultans were often blond because they were born from concubines taken from european populations ie. they never came from his official wife (until of course one ended up marrying his concubine- big scandal).

  4. and as for cruelty. The first job of a newly ascended sultan, was to have all his brothers killed.

  5. The earliest example of mass slavery that I am aware of are the Hebrews in ancient Egypt who, upon liberation after 430 years in the land numbered approximately (at least) 2m people. (The Bible records that there were 600,000 men, so I assume there were around 600,000 women too and at least 800,000 children). The enslavement was gradual; they had begun (in the person of Jospeh) being the second in charge in the country but the death of the Pharaoh led gradually to greater and greater discrimination and harsher treatment).

  6. The history of black slavery is the only one that matters because it is a weapon for our cultural masters to use against us.

  7. “This was carried out by Nations who arguably knew it was wrong and looked the other way”

    Citation needed. Surely Newmy can’t be dribbling out of his arse again

  8. The RoP slave trade did–and is still doing to a far lesser extent–10 x the damage of the western trade, 100 million+ black slaves–80% of the males castrated to avoid demographic takeover (something the RoP understands all too well). 4 out of 5 slaves died on the trek up to RoP shitholes.

    So as usual Facepaint–you are talking out of your middle class Marxist arse.

  9. Historically slavery was an absolutely normal and unremarkable part of the human condition. EVERY ancient culture had it from Romans to Egyptians to Vikings to Chinese and Mongolians to Mayans and Aztecs to Africans to the whole Middle East to India to basically everywhere. No doubt Neanderthals had their slaves too. And Australopithicus and Homo Erectus one must assume. Is the chimp at the bottom of their social order not much the same too? The will of the alphas will prevail. Not enslaving those ‘others’ who are weaker or losers on the battlefield is, in the long sweep of human history, a fairly modern concept.

    I am sure the experience of African enslavement was utterly grim. Maybe not as grim as any across history. Was a plantation slave better or worse off than a pyramid builder? Who knows. One thing we can be completely sure of – it was not unique.

  10. Was a plantation slave better or worse off than a pyramid builder?

    I dont think the Pyramids were built by slaves it was more a religious duty, something a bit like a Pilgrimage and a bit like the US Space programme. I have read that the experience of the Helots was like the American slave experience although in many ways it is obviously quite different( they owned property and farmed independently ).
    It was the affect that being in constant fear of revolt had on the owners that provoked the comparison ( Spartans and Southern Gentlemen )

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    Newmania June 1, 2020 at 8:02 am

    “If you think about it in a pre cash or largely,pre cash, economy Labour is bound to be a matter of obligation rather than pay For this reason Slavery has meant a wide variety of social constructs
    ( Serfdom for example ).”

    Who would have thought Newbie would have said something interesting? Indeed. And that is precisely why those ideological systems that rejected capitalism pretty soon turned back to mass slavery. Both the Soviet Union and the Nazis had more slave laborers than the entire Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. Each of them. Not combined.

    “This was carried out by Nations who arguably knew it was wrong and looked the other way. You sense this in Jane Austen or in Blake`s Little Black Boy”

    And highly educated people like Eric Hobsbawm and David Miliband’s father defended it too. So what? There is a lesson here a leftist like you could learn from.

  12. Ummm… With all things known nowadays, the pyramids were not built by slaves.. One of thise Myffs that never dies.. Damn the Romantics and their notions of “History”…

    As for the African Slave Experience.. The Nubians were introduced into Upper Egypt as slaves.. They later took over..
    For the latest bout of Euro-american slavery… The Spanish and Portuguese simply offered better prices than the Arabs in a very Traditional Market in Africa. The source of acquisition was entirely african. The Arabs and later successions of europeans merely picked up merchandise at the local, and very established, outlets. And to be fair.. the Arabs never stopped.. They’re simply more subtle about it nowadays.

    And if it weren’t for their commmercial value, most, if not all, of the afro-americans wouldn’t have existed at all…. Africans have a tendency to be Not Very Nice to those not of their tribe ( and only slightly more nice within).. As we can regularly see nowadays, now that the value of a healthy body is negligent in that continent.
    But that, of course, doesn’t fit the Narrative of Evil White Man….

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Newmania June 1, 2020 at 9:39 am

    “Was a plantation slave better or worse off than a pyramid builder?”

    Well that is a question we can answer. Most slave populations do not reproduce themselves. They can’t because if it was worth paying a slave more than the cost of raising two children, you would hire a free labourer. Slavery only makes sense if you are paying less than the cost of reproducing the family unit.

    The exception being the United States. Which took a fraction of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade – about 4% of all slaves went to British North America. But it ended up with an enormous freed population. As did Brazil but only because they were enslaving so many that when they were freed there were a lot of survivors.

    For some unknown reason the United States treated its slaves unusually well. Or at least fed them unusually well – better than the entire Soviet block in 1957 except East Germany and maybe the Czechs.

    “I dont think the Pyramids were built by slaves it was more a religious duty, something a bit like a Pilgrimage and a bit like the US Space programme.”

    It was almost certainly a form of taxation if it was not the work of a small number of professionals. I lean to the latter myself.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    Rob June 1, 2020 at 8:35 am – “The history of black slavery is the only one that matters because it is a weapon for our cultural masters to use against us.”

    As someone once said “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

    We are well down that path now.

  15. Newmania: ‘ I don`t know that the experience of black Africans was elite but I haven’t myself come across quite the same industrial scale casual cruelty.’

    Then your historical knowledge is very limited. Greece, Rome, spring immediately to mind… in fact everywhere throughout history. For political reasons Black slavery has been emphasised as a unique cruelty of White people inflicted on Black people, with no historical context.

    ‘ This was carried out by Nations who arguably knew it was wrong and looked the other way.’

    Arguably? Slavery was not supported under Common Law. The British Government allocated 10% of GDP to stopping the slave trade, deploying RN ships to patrol coast of East Africa, also banned slavery throughout the Empire, and paid plantation owners in the West Indies to emancipate their slaves.

  16. No doubt Neanderthals had their slaves too.

    This blood libel by smallnose tribe. Stig is hominid of peace. Stig seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Forests on fire off shoulders of Pyrenees. Wooly rhinoceros tusk glittering in dark under Moon. All moments lost in time, like tears in rain.

  17. Newmania: ‘ I don`t know that the experience of black Africans was elite but I haven’t myself come across quite the same industrial scale casual cruelty.’

    I meant unique of course.The most famous example of slavery in the ancient word is that of the Helots which I have mentioned. Certainly they were treated cruelly by their Spartan masters but they were required to hand over a portion of their produce. That is clearly quite different to the situation of black African slaves.
    Much debate is had about this and sources are few but when you think of the ancient world and its relative cruelty you must recall that this is society where exposing an unwanted child was considered regrettable rather than wrong .

    By the time Jane Austen wrote Mansfield Park in which Fanny Price’s benefactors are dependent on slaver income there was, quite obviously, a debate raging about the morality of the trade which was approaching abolition. Again, what Jane Austen thought is not obvious,it may be fairest to say she hints at the shifting moral landscape of the time.
    It was far earlier, 1789, that William Blake`s spiritual insight into the common humanity was expressed in the poem Little Black Boy

    A growing sense that slavery was a foul evil was present in the civilised world long before it was abolished. I think this is important , when we think of the peculiar evil of the Nazis isn’t it because Germany was the centre of Western enlightened thought, we would hardly forgive them on the grounds Ghengis Khan was a lot worse … would we ?

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    +100 for Stig

    But I have noticed a problem here:

    “Lady Florence Baker, née Flora Barbara Maria von Szász”

    So Samuel Baker bought her did he? He seems to have sexually exploited this young lady. Did he get affirmative consent? Repeated affirmative consent? I think it is an outrage. This thread should be cancelled.

  19. Baker and his wife were–by all accounts– a happy enough couple and took part in the Search for the Source of the Nile.

    If anyone remembers the old–and very good BBC series (from a time before MCMarxist scum took over)– “The Search for the Nile” Baker was played by Norman Rossington and Mrs B by 70s favourite Catherine Schell.

    I have a pleasant adolescent memory of the scene where she and Baker are staying at a native village and the village women are helping her wash her long hair–and the native women are marvelling at her white breasts–as was I.

  20. The Newmaniac bleat on slavery fails on “This was carried out by Nations …” Simply no. The concept of “Nation” he’s using simply didn’t exist before the mid-C19th. Take the UK. Very few people had any influence on the government. The country was ruled in the interest of the rulers & those with influence. That rule’s remit ran little further than the British coast. The purchase, transport & employment of African slaves was entirely a private enterprise, undertaken by those who may or may not have just happened to be British. The import of commodities produced as a result of slave labour was not a matter of government discretion other than as a revenue source through import tariffs.
    Even in S.America, where Portugal & Spain were more hands on in control of the colonies, the end users were mostly in the private sector.
    If you’re looking for heads to hang in shame, the church would be a good place to start. The Protest faith shouldn’t get a free pass but the participation of the Catholic church was fundamental. Catholic doctrine defined Europeans, particularly Catholics as the instruments of God’s will & everyone else as sub-human, without souls. And thus without & not entitled to free will.

  21. She played an alien called Maya in the awful 2nd series–both series were awful–of “Space 1999”.

  22. @ Newmania
    The Spartans treated *everyone* cruelly by anyone else’s standards, most notably the Spartiates. The Helots were treated well or badly by the individual Spartiate who lived off the produce of the farm where they worked so it is virtually certain that some were treated extremely badly and some quite well and it is unreasonable to extrapolate from individual examples. Prior to the Pelopennesian War the Spartan army was accompanied by non-fighting Helots (acting as a batman to each soldier one assumes), but by the time of the Roman invasion most of the Spartan army comprised Helots because there were not enough Spartiates left. So the failure of the Helot majority in the army to overthrow the Spartiate minority rule suggests that they were not as angry at their treatment as the 14th Century English peasants. One example from which one should not extrapolate is that of Eurytus’ helot who led his blind master into the battle of Thermopylae when he could easily have left him and run away.

  23. So Much For Subtlety

    Mr Ecks June 1, 2020 at 10:31 am

    “Baker and his wife were–by all accounts– a happy enough couple and took part in the Search for the Source of the Nile.”

    So he was a wicked Imperialist as well as a rapist? I am doubly triggered now!

    “I have a pleasant adolescent memory of the scene where she and Baker are staying at a native village and the village women are helping her wash her long hair–and the native women are marvelling at her white breasts–as was I.”

    That is rape culture right there. I guess Freud got something right – the breasts of your teen years are better than the breasts at any subsequent time. Even if, objectively speaking, they are not. If I had to guess, I would say that most people here could see any number of surgically-enhanced wonders but they have a soft spot for, (quick calculation of average age) Jenny Aguter’s.

    bloke in spain June 1, 2020 at 10:39 am – “The purchase, transport & employment of African slaves was entirely a private enterprise”

    Not wanting to detract from the splendor of this oration, but, you know, Britain did go to war with Spain. At least once. Possibly more than that. For the specific purpose of allowing British individuals into the Africa-America slave trade. The Asiento I think it was called. So it wasn’t *entirely* private.

    “If you’re looking for heads to hang in shame, the church would be a good place to start. The Protest faith shouldn’t get a free pass but the participation of the Catholic church was fundamental. Catholic doctrine defined Europeans, particularly Catholics as the instruments of God’s will & everyone else as sub-human, without souls. And thus without & not entitled to free will.”

    What a load of crap. Where did you get this garbage? There has never been a time the Catholic Church did not fully and completely accept that Africans were properly human, that marriages with them were legally and morally binding, and that they had free will. The Church even went so far as to issue the first condemnation of slavery in the West since Roman times.

    Why on earth do you believe such nonsense?

    john77 June 1, 2020 at 10:51 am – “it is unreasonable to extrapolate from individual examples.”

    And then there is the habit of sending young Spartans off to the countryside to kill any Helot they thought was uppity. And the one occasion they asked those Helots who thought they had done Sparta a good service to volunteer for an award …. and then they were never heard from again.

    You know I think the historical record on Helots may have been a little more complicated than you think.

    “One example from which one should not extrapolate is that of Eurytus’ helot who led his blind master into the battle of Thermopylae when he could easily have left him and run away.”

    Yeah but he was leading him to certain death. So it may not have been the kindness of his heart that made him do it.

  24. The general experience of slaves in the U.S. was manorial, not unlike feudalism in England.

    The exceptions make better drama.

  25. John77, of course it wasn’t really peasants revolting against Rich II, they were artisans largely s sort of C2 of their era.

    The French made widespread use of German PoWs as slave labour after both wars, to the disgust of the AngloSaxons.

  26. The slaves in what became the US were better off because tobacco and later cotton plantations do not provide as god-awful a way of life as sugar plantations.

    As for the Hebrews in Egypt, why on earth raise that preposterous foundation myth here?

  27. So Much For Subtlety

    dearieme June 1, 2020 at 11:28 am – “The slaves in what became the US were better off because tobacco and later cotton plantations do not provide as god-awful a way of life as sugar plantations.”

    Domestic servitude was even less god-awful in terms of labour and climate. But slaves taken as domestic servants seem not to have reproduced either.

    Most surviving African slave populations in the Muslim world tend to be descended from dock workers. In Lebanon and Pakistan for instance. No idea about how hard that work was but it is the closest the Islamic world came to industrial labour I would guess.

  28. So it seems my suggestion of maybe pyramid builders as the harshest slave experience was off. So what was the worst place and time in history to be a slave? I’m guessing way back. Africans to the Middle East seem to have all been castrated and worked to death. Aztecs used to eat theirs! Who wins the prize for ‘shittiest treatment of their slaves’ of all time?

  29. Dennis, Yet Again

    The general experience of slaves in the U.S. was manorial, not unlike feudalism in England.

    Nope. Not even close, actually.

    Read the classic of the history of slavery in the U.S.: The Peculiar Institution by Kenneth M. Stampp. It remains the definitive study.

    For the vast majority of slaves in U.S., the experience was NOT manorial. Nor was it “like” feudalism. Large plantations used a very small percentage of the slave population in the U.S. Beyond that, Stampp demolishes the idea that slavery in the U.S. was in any way paternalistic.

  30. SMFS

    they have a soft spot for, (quick calculation of average age) Jenny Aguter’s.

    Not necessarily a soft spot…

  31. From that great racist muhammad Ali (the boxer, not the Egyptian bloke) “It was not for nothing that Ali thanked God that his “granddaddy got on that boat” after experiencing Africa for the first time.

  32. Dennis, Pointing Out The Obvious

    It may have been great for Ali, I’m not so sure it was great for his granddaddy.

    It’s like hunting… Whether it’s a sport or not depends entirely on which end of the gun you are on.

  33. @SMFS
    “Why on earth do you believe such nonsense?”

    Because it was the doctrine of the Catholic church in what is now Brasil & the Spanish colonised parts of S. America. Although stolen might be a better word than colonised. And was the justification for the enslavement of millions of the indigenous peoples.

  34. @ SMFS
    If the helot had hated Eurytus he would have led him away from the battlefield to be despised like Aristodemus

  35. The Meissen Bison

    Patrick: Who wins the prize for ‘shittiest treatment of their slaves’ of all time?

    Meghan Markle

  36. “I don`t know that the experience of black Africans was elite but I haven’t myself come across quite the same industrial scale casual cruelty.”

    You seem to be ignoring the Barbary slavers who captured and sold an estimated one and a half million European slaves (until the trade was wiped out by, of course, the French colonisers)

    And that’s just North Africa, which excludes Turkey, Egypt etc

  37. So Much For Subtlety

    Addolff June 1, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    “From that great racist muhammad Ali (the boxer, not the Egyptian bloke) “It was not for nothing that Ali thanked God that his “granddaddy got on that boat” after experiencing Africa for the first time.”

    I think that this is spurious. It would be great if he had said it but I don’t think he did. Eartha Kitt may have said something very similar after touring Africa.

    Dennis, Pointing Out The Obvious June 1, 2020 at 12:30 pm – “It may have been great for Ali, I’m not so sure it was great for his granddaddy.”

    Depends on what Monty Hall had behind the Third Door. Because the Door his grand-daddy may well have sucked, but the Second Door was not that great either. What do you think would have happened if they had not been sold?

    bloke in spain June 1, 2020 at 12:37 pm – “Because it was the doctrine of the Catholic church in what is now Brasil & the Spanish colonised parts of S. America. Although stolen might be a better word than colonised. And was the justification for the enslavement of millions of the indigenous peoples.”

    Bollocks. I mean this is so stupid it is not even worth spending two minutes googling to prove wrong. This site is full of Catholic educated people. I am pretty sure not one of them ever had it explained to them that Africans were not fully human.

    It was not ever the doctrine of the Catholic Church that Africans did not have souls. It is stupid to assert so. Especially given, you know, the majority of the Doctors of the Church were born in Africa or the Middle East and so were not European. Augustine, for instance, was the better sort of African, but the Church would have to be pretty oblivious not to notice he was not European. More or less.

    That has nothing to do with slavery – the Catholics being fine with slavery for Europeans – or with colonisation – also something they were fine with regardless of the soullessness of Africans and Asians.

  38. So Much For Subtlety

    john77 June 1, 2020 at 12:50 pm – “If the helot had hated Eurytus he would have led him away from the battlefield to be despised like Aristodemus”

    Yes. I am reminded just a little of the Blackadder episode where Bladders is captured and the evil Hun plans to inflict a fate worse than death by keeping him prisoner in a school for girls until the war is over.

    Certainly I think we can agree that the slave that was, for instance, asked to kill Seneca probably had slightly mixed emotions.

  39. @ SMFS
    You may have failed to notice that I was pointing out that the Helot experience was more complicated that Newmania suggested … You do not actually know what I think! Only what I type.

  40. So Much For Subtlety

    So if the Catholic Church were to insist that Africans did not have souls, an urban myth on par with claiming Jews killed Christian boys for their Passover bread, there would be some things to explain. Such as Act 8.

    26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

    27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

    35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

    36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

    So here is a great moment. Someone Important is preaching to an Ethiopian, you know, an African African unlike Augustine who was a Berber I assume. Said African asks if there was any reason he could not become a Christian. Now would be a really good time for Philip to say something like “Sorry old bean but the Church is pretty sure that you are sub-human”.

    Anyone like to guess what he does say next?

    And so I did a minor bit of googling.

    “Pope Paul III in 1537 issued a Bull against slavery, entitled Sublimis Deus, to the universal Church. He wrote:

    …The exalted God loved the human race so much that He created man in such a condition that he was not only a sharer in good as are other creatures, but also that he would be able to reach and see face to face the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good… Seeing this and envying it, the enemy of the human race, who always opposes all good men so that the race may perish, has thought up a way, unheard of before now, by which he might impede the saving word of God from being preached to the nations. He (Satan) has stirred up some of his allies who, desiring to satisfy their own avarice, are presuming to assert far and wide that the Indians…be reduced to our service like brute animals, under the pretext that they are lacking the Catholic faith. And they reduce them to slavery, treating them with afflictions they would scarcely use with brute animals… by our Apostolic Authority decree and declare by these present letters that the same Indians and all other peoples – even though they are outside the faith – …should not be deprived of their liberty… Rather they are to be able to use and enjoy this liberty and this ownership of property freely and licitly, and are not to be reduced to slavery.

  41. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_slavery?wprov=sfla1

    BIS has a point. The church’s attitude was nuanced.

    After the legalisation of Christianity under the Roman Empire, there was a growing sentiment that many kinds of slavery were not compatible with Christian conceptions of charity and justice; some argued against all forms of slavery while others, including the influential Thomas Aquinas, argued the case for penal slavery subject to certain restrictions….. Although some Catholic clergy, religious orders and Popes owned slaves, and the naval galleys of the Papal States were to use captured Muslim galley slaves, Roman Catholic teaching began to turn more strongly against “unjust” forms of slavery in general, beginning in 1435, prohibiting the enslavement of the recently baptised, culminating in condemnation of the enslavement of indigenous peoples by Pope Paul III in 1537….. The first extensive shipment of black Africans to make good the shortage of native slaves, what would later become known as the Transatlantic slave trade, was initiated at the request of Bishop Las Casas and authorised by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1517…. A number of Popes did issue papal bulls condemning “unjust” enslavement (“just” enslavement was still accepted as a form of punishment), and mistreatment of Native Americans by Spanish and Portuguese colonials; however, these were largely ignored. Nonetheless, Catholic missionaries such as the Jesuits, who also owned slaves, worked to alleviate the suffering of Native American slaves in the New World.

  42. BiS – Catholic doctrine defined Europeans, particularly Catholics as the instruments of God’s will & everyone else as sub-human, without souls. And thus without & not entitled to free will.

    This kinda sounds like one of them factoids from a Jack Chick tract. (I’m a big fan of Jack Chick’s work, guy was hilarious)

    But if the Papalists believed the savages didn’t have souls, why spend so much time, effort and money on converting them to Christ?

  43. So Much For Subtlety

    I don’t see how that is nuanced at all. It shows the very clear position of pretty much everyone in the West since Socrates – slavery is contrary to Natural Law but we are stuck with it.

    The Popes just give it a Christian spin, condemn it, but are not in a position to ban it outright.

    It is about a galaxy away from the garbage BiS was spouting.

  44. Doesn’t really work. Given that one of the justifications of slavery was that they were better off Christians and slaves – buggered in this world but saved in the next – than heathen and free. No, really – and it was an oft repeated stricture that slaves should be baptised on the ocean voyage or even before.

  45. SMFS – https://face2faceafrica.com/article/muhammad-ali-thought-africa-jungle-came-visit. Plus others.
    Dennis – no, not necessarily great for Grandad but can you guarantee it was worse than remaining in Africa as a slave? At least he lived long enough to knock a child that survived – Contrast that with the descendants of those taken into islam as slaves – if you can find them.

    Whatever we think about the Atlantic slave trade, the descendants in the US are the best feed, have access to the best education system (whether they take advantage of it is another matter) and best healthcare system (including Medicaid for those with no Insurance)in the whole of the Black sphere of existence.

  46. Newmania

    Germany the center of western enlightened thought?

    You’ve never read The Road to Serfdom then?

  47. So the fact that a Doctor of the Church argued in favour of a kind of slavery, that Popes and religious orders owned slaves, the naval galleys of the Papal States used captured Muslim galley slaves, there was a legal or just form of slavery, and Jesuit missionaries in South America (eg Paraguay as in “Candide”) used slaves, the attitude of the Catholic Church was not in any way nuanced? I give up

  48. Unconvinced about Ali. OK, he might have said something similar. But I tend to think that’s something from a less famous person that got transferred to a name. Same period, but from a black American who worked for one of the TV networks as a newsman. Can’t remember his name or the network, NBC, ABC maybe? Might even have been part of the press jamboree for the Rumble in the Jungle. But I know absolutely that the other guy said it which is what makes me think it got transferred.

  49. “So what was the worst place and time in history to be a slave?”

    Algiers, up to close to 20thC….

    Remember : Kafirs Don’t Count….

  50. Agree with Tim. Muhammed Ali (the ci-devant Cassius Marcellus Clay) regarded, after his conversion to the “Black Muslim” sect which should not be confused with mainstream Islam, White Americans (even including the Louisville businessmen who funded the start of his boxing career) as oppressors of the “blacks”. I can’t remember the journalist’s name but it was a result of seeing what life was like on the ground in Africa – which Muhammed Ali would *not* have seen from his cocoon.

  51. The black American journalist might well have been Keith Richburg, who said “Thank God my ancestors got out, because now, I am not one of them. In short, thank God I am an American.” Not that that went down well with a lot of his fellows…

  52. Tim / SMFS / John77 – Something you don’t like so ignore it? Sources? Thought you were all better than that.

  53. @ SMFS
    In the time of Socrates a lot of the slaves were those captured in war and the idea was that slavery was the preferably option to just being butchered. The Christian spin is that Christian slave-owners should treat their Christian slaves as brothers, their non-Christian slaves as if children, and Christian slaves should serve their masters cheerfully.

  54. “and it was an oft repeated stricture that slaves should be baptised on the ocean voyage or even before.”

    Yes, because if you assume Christian Dogma as Truth, salvation, and a place in heaven, can only be achied through Christus.

    Having becomne chattel to Christians, but obviously human ( savage and inferior, but still human ) and posessing a soul, it would have been considered extremely cruel to deny them that salvation.
    In fact, denying anyone the chance at salvation is a damnable offense in christianity… ( note that nothing is said about placing near-impossible hurdles on the way…)
    So they basically did the Spray and Pray thing, on the premise that it “may help them, definitely won’t hurt them”, while ensuring they themselves did not commit a grave sin.

    Note that the same thing goes for Islam. One of the things that’s stayed surprisingly close to the original core beliefs over the centuries in that variant of the Abrahamic Flavours.

  55. Secular morality cannot provide a single good argument against slavery that is not derived from Christian ethics. Slavery was abolished by Christians eventually coming to accept the precepts of Christ. Meanwhile, every other world religion permits or equivocates about slavery.

  56. “Secular morality cannot provide a single good argument against slavery that is not derived from Christian ethics”

    Try: As with any form of suppression, it will bite you in the arse, unless you have superior and lethal force at your side, and you’re willing to use it to maintain the status quo.

  57. @ Adolff
    Your link to an article merely restates the “somebody said that Muhammed Ali said …”. No advance on previous claim. Article written by a woman too young to remember the 1960 Olympics states as hard fact stuff she could not know but took as valid because widely reported so her use of “reportedly” means she lacks confidence in the claim that Ali ever said that.
    I chose to ignore it because the alternative was to call it bullshit. The “Rumble in the Jungle” wasn’t Ali’s first visit to Africa so he was unlikely to have been so shocked on that occasion; Ali was born 79 years after the abolition of slavery in the USA and 134 years after the abolition of the slave trade so his Grandfather wasn’t transported on a slaver.

  58. @Newmoron

    If you think about it in a pre cash or largely,pre cash, economy

    Bollocks. No need to think about it as Romans had cash economy in BC. British Pound Sterling dates to ~775 and is world’s oldest currency

  59. “Secular morality cannot provide a single good argument against slavery that is not derived from Christian ethics”

    Huh?

    Was there no morality until 70 AD?

  60. Some interesting comments above. Tying some together.
    Theo- “Secular morality cannot provide a single good argument against slavery that is not derived from Christian ethics.”
    Gamecock- “Was there no morality until 70 AD?”

    All notions of morality are arbitrary. That they may or may not produce preferred or superior general outcomes is irrelevant. Whatever’s moral or immoral at any particular time is what’s expedient to whoever’s defining & enforcing morality. There can’t be any absolute morality because what’s regarded as moral in one time or place can be 180 degrees away from what’s regarded as moral in another.
    In the first half of the second millennium (the period we’re talking about) there’s no democracy operating. There’s a certain amount of law regarding the interactions between individuals that’s come down as custom & use from earlier times. The rest derives from the whim of the rulers in their interests or the interests of those it’s convenient to placate. And rulers define their moral authority to rule as coming from God. Dieu et mon droit as Brenda likes to claim. And the Church has real power in this period. Rulers are theoretically, at least, subject to the Pope who claim’s to represent God’s authority on earth. Although God seems generally to be in favour of what’s expedient for the Catholic church. And the Church does have real power & influence. The Church itself believes it has ultimate authority over the whole world derived from its Supreme Being created it. It’s non-optional. And the only path available to the human soul is through Christianity.
    So how does that relate to slavery in the New World? By Christian doctrine was it immoral? The Catholic church found it expedient to finesse that argument. The Conquistadors went to the Americas with the remit to lead its inhabitants’ souls to Christ. That they worked them to death in the process was convenient. Ditto slaves transported from Africa. Or they didn’t have souls in first place or acquired them in the process of Christinisation. Opinions differed. But you can’t get away from the Catholic church being complicit in slavery. It claimed the authority & power to prevent it. It chose not to. And the C of E doesn’t get a free pass because it doesn’t regard itself as subject to Rome. It’s still working from the same rule book.
    That said, it’s notable the whole subject of slavery seems to be an Anglo-Saxon sphere obsession. My Brasilera chum here is a descendent of African slaves. About 75% of her, at a guess. But she’s not beating Whitey up for what my remote ancestor might have done to her remote ancestor. I get beaten up for my own transgressions.

  61. Grikath: your argument is a prudential argument, not a (secular) moral argument.

    Gamecock: “Was there no morality until 70 AD?” There was no (or very little) anti-slavery morality in the pre-christian era.

    BiS: “All notions of morality are arbitrary.” So slavery is morally permissible! — Moral relativism is false. While moralities differ in details, there is a core of moral principles that are universal and derive from our evolutionary history as a social species.

  62. Slavery is morally preferable. If the other option is putting your enemy, his women & children to the sword. Pretty well all civilisations were built on slavery. It’s what provided the labour surplus.
    And a civilisation is what’s needed to afford morals.

  63. ‘There can’t be any absolute morality’

    The unwritten contract of civilization is:

    1. Don’t mess with me or my stuff, and I won’t mess with you or yours;

    2. Do what you say you will do, and I’ll do what I say.

    This involves no ‘morality.’ Nor dependence on ‘God.’ And FA to do with Christianity.

  64. “All notions of morality are arbitrary.”

    “There can’t be any absolute morality because what’s regarded as moral in one time or place can be 180 degrees away from what’s regarded as moral in another.”

    “Secular morality cannot provide a single good argument against slavery that is not derived from Christian ethics.”

    Ipso facto, Christian ethics change over time. The notion that they are derived from God is therefore ridiculous.

  65. Theo’s a Tory. Abides by the Ten Commandments. Chiselled into stone by Ted Heath during a wet weekend on Morning Cloud.

  66. Incidentally:
    “Secular morality cannot provide a single good argument against slavery that is not derived from Christian ethics.”

    It doesn’t need to. Economic self interest does. Free men operating in a market are more efficient than slaves.
    Any ‘morality” is in the self interest of those providing & insisting on the moral framework. No exceptions. Even for Tories.

  67. I note that Violet Elizabeth Newmania fails to mention that the Black slaves were sold to slave traders by other Blacks.

  68. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain June 2, 2020 at 4:53 am

    “All notions of morality are arbitrary.”

    Are they? That is a very fashionable post-modernist point of view. I am sure that the Guardian would agree with you. But I would like to see your working.

    “Whatever’s moral or immoral at any particular time is what’s expedient to whoever’s defining & enforcing morality.”

    And that is just Trotsky. Who defended killing the Tsar’s children but rather objected to Stalin killing his.

    “There can’t be any absolute morality because what’s regarded as moral in one time or place can be 180 degrees away from what’s regarded as moral in another.”

    The world can’t be round because there is a tribe in the Upper Volta with bones through their noses who think it is flat.

    “In the first half of the second millennium (the period we’re talking about) there’s no democracy operating.”

    That is an interesting claim too. Wanna bet?

    “So how does that relate to slavery in the New World? By Christian doctrine was it immoral? The Catholic church found it expedient to finesse that argument.”

    You mean they had a well thought out and rational position that does not agree with the Guardian and so you choose to regard it as cynical?

    “The Conquistadors went to the Americas with the remit to lead its inhabitants’ souls to Christ. That they worked them to death in the process was convenient.”

    I don’t know who it was convenient for but it is worth noting the enormous efforts Church men put in to saving said indigenous peoples from being worked to death.

    “Or they didn’t have souls in first place or acquired them in the process of Christinisation. Opinions differed.”

    David Icke thinks Elizabeth Windsor is a shape changing inter-gallatic lizard who eats children. Most of us think she isn’t. BiS thinks opinions differ.

    No one of any worth whatsoever thinks the Church denied that Third World peoples had souls. There is precisely zero evidence for that claim and an enormous amount of evidence to the contrary.

    “But you can’t get away from the Catholic church being complicit in slavery. It claimed the authority & power to prevent it. It chose not to.”

    Who cares? Why are you changing the subject?

    bloke in spain June 2, 2020 at 9:19 am

    “Slavery is morally preferable. If the other option is putting your enemy, his women & children to the sword. Pretty well all civilisations were built on slavery. It’s what provided the labour surplus.”

    Well most people put the men to the sword and kept the women and children. See Homer for instance. When the British came to Northern Nigeria they tried to free the slaves but civilisation collapsed and they had to think again. Fascinating period really.

    bloke in spain June 2, 2020 at 11:14 am

    “It doesn’t need to. Economic self interest does. Free men operating in a market are more efficient than slaves.”

    You would think so. Adam Smith says so. So does Karl Marx. But when people looked at African slavery in the US it turns out not to be so. Quite why this is no one knows but the evidence is good.

    “Any ‘morality” is in the self interest of those providing & insisting on the moral framework. No exceptions. Even for Tories.”

    British Kings had a strong interest in heirs. And sleeping with lots of young and pretty girls. Unlike the rest of the world, the Church stopped them doing it. At least openly – and often in actual reality as well. So even the most powerful people in England had to accept dying without a legitimate heir. Rather than having a palace with 300 women in it as in Turkey.

    So in reality history says otherwise.

  69. Oh FFS!, SMFS. Just look at the issue of homosexuality. In not much more than a single generation it’s gone from a moral sin, punishable by imprisonment to where objecting to it is a moral sin punishable by imprisonment. With the definers of the moral framework leading public opinion all the way. How arbitrary do you want to get?
    “The world can’t be round because there is a tribe in the Upper Volta with bones through their noses who think it is flat.” Rather usefully proves the point. Modelling the world as flat may make sense to a tribe in the Upper Volta. Modelling it as anything else when you’ve no evidence to base the model on would be arbitrary. To all intents & purposes their rather limited world is flat. They’re unable to discern any other shape.
    Which is the point about moralities. They work at certain times & places. The question is who do they work for?

    “British Kings had a strong interest in heirs. And sleeping with lots of young and pretty girls. Unlike the rest of the world, the Church stopped them doing it. At least openly – and often in actual reality as well. ”

    Apparently hasn’t stopped the next up for fid def, either. If you strongly redefine young & pretty. But royal marriage & inheritance was always a matter of politics. There’d be no point if the king of Borogravia married the princess of Wittlesstein but chose as his heir to the throne the bastard he sired on the barmaid at the local inn. That principal was established long before Christianity got in on the act

  70. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain June 2, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    “Just look at the issue of homosexuality. In not much more than a single generation it’s gone from a moral sin, punishable by imprisonment to where objecting to it is a moral sin punishable by imprisonment. With the definers of the moral framework leading public opinion all the way. How arbitrary do you want to get?”

    You assume that both of those viewpoints are equally valid. That is you assume what you claim rather than prove it.

    “Modelling it as anything else when you’ve no evidence to base the model on would be arbitrary.”

    Sure. We can all pretend there is nothing wrong with homosexuality to our hearts content. It does not change the nature of homosexuality. Just as modelling the world as flat does not actually make it flat.

    “Which is the point about moralities. They work at certain times & places. The question is who do they work for?”

    No it isn’t. That is your post-modernist interpretation. The thing that you should be proving, not asserting.

    “But royal marriage & inheritance was always a matter of politics.”

    Changing the subject does not make you right either.

    “There’d be no point if the king of Borogravia married the princess of Wittlesstein but chose as his heir to the throne the bastard he sired on the barmaid at the local inn. That principal was established long before Christianity got in on the act”

    And yet Kings managed to marry both the princess and the barmaid in every other country. The Turkish Sultan managed political marriages *and* many many others. So this point is wrong too.

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