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Scottish Slaves for New England?

by ManfromMiddletown Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 01:37:17 PM EST

Jerome asked that I turn this comment into a diary.  

I've been doing research lately on my father's family, and I've come into something very bizarre.  I'm as white as the driven snow, and although we know that my paternal grandmother's family came from Scotland to the United States, we never knew when or how.  Going through records that my father has, we came across a possible answer, but I'm not sure it's even plausible.  Apparently, my distant ancestor Tormut Rose was deported to America by Cromwell and sold as a slave.


I've always had the notion that slavery in America was a purely black African affair, but according to this copy of a page from an out of print book my father has, it was not.  Tormut Rose was an officer in the Scottish Convenater army led by General David Leslie to drive Cromwell's forces from Scotland, retain the independence of the Scottish church, and restore Charles II to the throne of Scotland and England (that having been brought into personal union in 1604.)  In 1650, after having driven the English back to Dunbar, the Scottish army came upon Cromwell's forces, but on the advice of preachers did not attack on a Sunday.  Crowell's forces launched a sneak attack on the Scots that night, killing hundreds, and capturing the rest.

Fearing that the prisoners would only rise again if released, Cromwell, ordered them force marched to Durham, and from there deported to English colonial possessions in the Americas.  Once in America, Tormut was sold into slavery to work in Saugus Iron Works, America's first integrated ironworks.  From 1650 to roughly 1660 he was held as labor for the Iron Works.  In 1660, he and others were release.  Somehow his freedom was purchased.   Later that year his son would found a settlement at Block Island in Rhode Island.  

I've been able to confirm several things, there was a Battle at Dunbar in 1650, the survivors were deported to America.  There was an ironworks at Saugus, but on the webpage of the offical historical site, there is no mention of Scottish slaves. I have a few questions, and I'm hoping that the UK continegent can help me out.

How many Scots were deported by Cromwell to the Americas?

Is it plausible that they were held in slavery?

How did they gain their freedom?  Was there a subscription at the churches like when Christian were captured and held as slaves by Muslin Corsairs in Morrocco?  Did the Scottish Goverment buy their freedom?  Is it just that the Cromwell government fell?

If Tormut Rose was brought to America, and sold as a slave, then there's an entire American history of which most people here know nothing. And has not been acknowledge officially by the US government.  Of course this was during the colonial period, so the truth mat lay in London rather than Washington.  I just have to wonder if my family came to America as Scottish slaves, how many others have the same heritage and don't even know it?

Display:
God bless my father, he has his way.

Him showing me this paper came after a long discussion about how I may or may not be funded for my second year of graduate study.  So my father says he has something to show me.

And he pulls out the page with this information about Tormut Rose on it, and we start to go through it.

And after realizing that this means that I just might be the descendant of slaves, I ask him how this is even in the least bit helpful.

And he says, "Life isn't fair, you could be a slave. Things could be worse remember that."

And somehow that made sense.  Pearls, mouth, swine.  Father of mine.

My middle name is Andrew, so is my father, and I have no idea why this is so.  Though I think it might have something to do with Tormut Rose and the land my ancestors were forced from.  Nearly 400 years if so.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 01:52:00 PM EST
 During that time there was a group called "Indentured Servants" which were, more or less, limited-time slaves.  An owner would buy their 'contracts' (?) and garner all of the value of their labor over the life of the 'contract.' By your description your ancestor was one as 10 years was a common 'contract' length, IIRC.

(I put contract in single quotes to indicate I don't know a better word to use.)  

Convict labor was also used and I vaguely remember there were white life-time slaves as well.  Eventually (white) people became uncomfortable about owning white slaves and the practice died out.

[Note: repost of comment from the Open Thread.]


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 01:59:28 PM EST
I also have some memory of this, and 10 years sound familiar. With the indentured servants I think it was a common practise that you could pay for transport by 10 years work. Or was it that people were sentenced to 10 years labour in the colonies? Maybe both in different times and settings.

Since slaves traditionally (as in the roman tradition) has had the right to buy themselves free (though in practise this was limited to the higher groups of slaves) I do not see slaves and indentured servants as necessarily conceptually different groups in the 17th century.

I guess you could find cases of free black persons in america owning white slaves, if someone goes looking for it.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 02:27:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but they would be anomalies. Free blacks suffered severe persecution even in New Netherlands, the most tolerant of all the original colonies.

I have a lot of sympathy for the indentured servants but I think it's wrong -- and dismissive of the kind of horrific treatment dealt out to black and Indian captives -- to call them "slaves." The conditions of their servitude were limited by a body of laws, and most, if they survived, eventually earned their freedom. Black and Indian captives were slaves forever, as were their children and their children's children.

by Matt in NYC on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 03:27:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, they would be anomalies.

I have a lot of sympathy for the indentured servants but I think it's wrong -- and dismissive of the kind of horrific treatment dealt out to black and Indian captives -- to call them "slaves." The conditions of their servitude were limited by a body of laws, and most, if they survived, eventually earned their freedom. Black and Indian captives were slaves forever, as were their children and their children's children.

Terminology differs from time to time. What I meant was
that the terminology of 17th century colonial affairs might not have differed so much between indentured servants and slaves. This might explain this:

Apparently, my distant ancestor Tormut Rose was deported to America by Cromwell and sold as a slave.

I've always had the notion that slavery in America was a purely black African affair, but according to this copy of a page from an out of print book my father has, it was not.

And the fact that he was released after 10 years.

On the question of proper terminology to use today I think it is a bit americo-centric to reserve the term "slave" for the type of slavery suffered by black and indian captives in American history. Slavery has existed in various forms in different cultures and the term has usually covered anything from the short-lived and brutal existence of mine or galley slaves to the more privileged position of a roman house slave that could own property, had the right (by law or custom) to buy his or her freedom and had a week-night of that could be spent earning money.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 05:04:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but the term slavery is obviously used for all manners of different relationships through the ages. For instance, throughout the New World, European colonialism created various systems where certain groups of people (e.g., indigenous people, deported convicts, and people bought through the slave trade) were forced to work for others with little or no rights, under conditions we would easily recognize as slavery-like, except possibly for the squabbling over the relevance of the concept of ownership. Take the Spanish encomienda system, which treated Native American people in many areas as slave-like, up to the point where governors (and after independence, governments) even traded indigenous laborers among one another. The question is always to what extent you want to make personal ownership by private individuals, if possible certified in written documents, a necessary criterion for calling a relationship slavery under a narrow literal interpretation.

If you can't convince them, confuse them. (Harry S. Truman)
by brainwave on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 02:53:42 PM EST
Google on "cromwell slaves" gives plenty of links. You should be able to find interesting things, one at random:

http://www.kavanaghfamily.com/articles/2003/20030618jfc.htm


In the 12 year period during and following the Confederation revolt, from 1641 to 1652, over 550,000 Irish were killed by the English and 300,000 were sold as slaves, as the Irish population of Ireland fell from 1,466,000 to 616,000. Banished soldiers were not allowed to take their wives and children with them, and naturally, the same for those sold as slaves. The result was a growing population of homeless women and children, who being a public nuisance, were likewise rounded up and sold. But the worse was yet to come.

In 1649, Cromwell landed in Ireland and attacked Drogheda, slaughtering some 30,000 Irish living in the city. Cromwell reported: "I do not think 30 of their whole number escaped with their lives. Those that did are in safe custody in the Barbados." A few months later, in 1650, 25,000 Irish were sold to planters in St. Kitt. During the 1650s decade of Cromwell's Reign of Terror, over 100,000 Irish children, generally from 10 to 14 years old, were taken from Catholic parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In fact, more Irish were sold as slaves to the American colonies and plantations from 1651 to 1660 than the total existing "free" population of the Americas!

But all did not go smoothly with Cromwell's extermination plan, as Irish slaves revolted in Barbados in 1649. They were hanged, drawn and quartered and their heads were put on pikes, prominently displayed around Bridgetown as a warning to others. Cromwell then fought two quick wars against the Dutch in 1651, and thereafter monopolized the slave trade. Four years later he seized Jamaica from Spain, which then became the center of the English slave trade in the Caribbean.

by Laurent GUERBY on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 02:54:31 PM EST
Cromwell certainly seems the bastard, and I think I hate then English now.  I wonder if the English or British goverment has ever acknowledge that this happened.  Ever more so, if accurate, this suggests that the origins of America as a country founded by free migrants fleeing religous oppression is wrong, very, very wrong.

I wonder if there have ever been any books written about this?  Maybe someone should write a book if not.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 03:03:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the origins of America as a country founded by free migrants fleeing religous oppression is wrong

Well, we know that's bullshit because the puritans were not escaping religious opression: they wanted to go to a place where they would be the only religious game in town.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 05:47:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well Mig, that's the story, and not everyone knows it's bullshit.

Few if any I imagine know that there were Scots and Irish deported to Massachussetts.  Which is a story in and of itself.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 05:59:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Imagine if it turns out the Kennedys descend from indentured servants who were sold as slaves.

The racist right can always find a way to spin that into a white supremacist frame.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 06:09:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You realize today's St. Patrick's Day?

The Kennedys I believe came over during the Potato Famine 1848-1849.

In the Caribbean, there were a lot of mixed marriages, and a large number of black Irish.  Blacks who spoke Gaelic.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 06:16:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You realize today's St. Patrick's Day?

LOL, I'm oblivious.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 06:24:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually not all "Kennedys" in America are Irish. Many, like those I'm related to, were Scots or Scots-Irish and came over in the 1600s to 1700s, long before the Irish during the potato famine.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 09:55:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we know that's bullshit  

I don't think one can even imagine how much of the history ,as we know it, is actually bullshit...And I am sure a lot...at least  from the history I had to witness through my time and what actually has been written in those history books about it...
They say rightly "Winners write history" ...who ever they are...
I wonder what American children are learning about Vietnam war from their history books? No matter that they lost that specific war ...but they are winners in greater sense. What Vietnam's children learn about that war? Is there Universal truth???
I have heard that American ambassador in Serbia (or so) criticized Serbian history books that are telling children about NATO AGGRESSION 1999 on Serbia. He would like to find better word for it, ha-ha. But Serbian children know even without books how that felt when bombs have fallen in their neighborhood ...and killed their loved once. My daughters primary school teacher (and sport trainer) has died amongst others... Some of their school friends went crazy or sick after being drafted to the army...Your ancestors are going to tell you history as it happened. You just need to listen...


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 18th, 2007 at 07:32:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Try telling a "Great Patriotic War" Russian veteran that America saved Europe's ass during WWII...
You'll learn the relativity of History.
by balbuz on Sun Mar 18th, 2007 at 08:25:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well yes...that's what I was talking about...truth have more then one side. I wouldn't say purely that "America saved Europe's ass" (maybe just Western Europe's ass from communism, ha-ha) but I would prefer to say that USA helped greatly to defeat Hitler. Bear in mind that more then 20 million of Russians have died in WWII...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 18th, 2007 at 09:22:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No wonder these nations "love" each other to this very day...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 18th, 2007 at 07:09:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
just googled a little "white slaves" "scottish slaves" etc...

there are plenty of links

http://www.electricscotland.com/history/other/white_slavery.htm

Marcellus Rivers and Oxenbridge Foyle, England's Slaves 1659 consists of a statement smuggled out of the New World and published in London referring to whites in bondage who did not think of themselves as indentured servants but as "England's Slaves" and "England's merchandise."
Colonial Office, Public Records Office, London 1667, no. 170 records that "even Blacks referred to the White forced laborers in the colonies as "white slaves."  Pages 343 through 346 of Historical Sketch of the Persecutions Suffered by the Catholics of Ireland by; Patrick F. Moran refers to the transportation of the Irish to the colonies as the "slave-trade."

Ulrich B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South explain that white enslavement was crucial to the development of the Negro slave system.  The system set up for the white slaves governed, organized and controlled the system for the black slaves.  Black slaves were "late comers fitted into a system already developed."  Pp 25-26.  John Pory declared in 1619, "white slaves are our principle wealth."

The above quotations from various authors are just the tip of the iceberg on the white slave trade of the Americas.  People from the British Isles were kidnapped, put in chains and crammed into ships that transported hundreds of them at a time.  Their destination was Virginia Boston, New York, Barbados and the West Indies.  The white slaves were treated the same or worse than the black slave.  The white slave did not fetch a good price at the auction blocks.  Bridenbaugh wrote in his accounting on page 118, having paid a bigger price for the Negro, the planters treated the black better than they did their "Christian" white servant.  Even the Negroes recognized this and did not hesitate to show their contempt for those white men who, they could see, were worse off than themselves.

see even :

http://www.geocities.com/~sconemac/slavery.html

The Forgotten Slaves: Whites in Servitude in Early America and Industrial Britain
http://www.revisionisthistory.org/forgottenslaves.html
(this one has to be taken with caution for its value judgments)

Why do Welsh names seem to be so common within the African American community ?
http://www.data-wales.co.uk/plantations.htm

The Slave Trader, the White Slave, and the Politics of Racial Determination in the 1850s
http://www.historycooperative.org/cgi-bin/justtop.cgi?act=justtop&url=http://www.historycooperat ive.org/journals/jah/87.1/johnson.html

by oldfrog on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 04:26:18 PM EST
Yes, there were white slaves and a lot of people who came to the "new world" from Europe did not come willingly.  However, the difference is that there was not a huge, systematic white-slave trade, as there was with Africans and others.  

As usual, human behavior is messy and greedy and the rationalizations for bad behavior don't hold, even while its going on, so nothing is ever clear cut.

But in general, the Scots and Irish and Welsh were not made slaves to turn a profit (although I'm sure it happened), but to control and clear them off the land, usually by criminalization.

My grandparents' families still spoke of the Highland Clearances when I was young, as though it had just happened.  I think this happens in populations, not because they like to hold grudges, but when they haven't ever recovered, economically and otherwise.  

In any case, my grandfather was from Shetland and I was always told the story of how his ancestor and his brother were run off the land in the Scottish Highlands.  How their villages were burned, their people murdered, starved, and run off to the coasts.  The brothers refused to leave and were declared criminals.  They were hunted and captured and put on a ship to Canada.  The ship stopped for supplies in Shetland and somehow the brothers escaped and were hidden by the townspeople until the ship left.

My ancestor ended up staying and marrying a girl from home, who had been shipped to Shetland earlier, by less forcible means, because she couldn't learn English and her family was afraid for her so they found her a position as a servant there with a Gaelic speaking family.

If you're prone to getting pissed-off, I wouldn't delve too deeply into your Scottish history.  We don't want you ending up painted blue.


Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 04:31:19 PM EST
If you're prone to getting pissed-off, I wouldn't delve too deeply into your Scottish history.  We don't want you ending up painted blue.

My middle name is Andrew, I think you may be to late.

I realize that I'm walking into a historical minefield here, but I think that there's a story to be told.  It's a matter what that story is.  

The possibility that the first factory in the US was run by unfree labor, and that instead of being descended from religous immigrants many white Americans may be descended from Scots and Irish deported to America by Cromwell.  And that's never mentioned in the history books.  How many Scots and Irish were deported to New England during the 1650's?  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 05:07:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you explain the Scottish significance of "Andrew"?
'Andrew' is derived from the Greek name Ανδρεας, or 'Andreas'. Ανδρεας comes from ανδρος (andros), ancient Greek for "strong, manly and courageous".


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 05:21:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saint Andrew. The St. Andrews Cross is the flag of Scotland.



And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 05:30:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, ok
About the middle of the tenth century, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. Several legends state that the relics of Andrew were brought under supernatural guidance from Constantinople to the place where the modern town of St. Andrews stands (Pictish, Muckross; Gaelic, Cill Rìmhinn).
Interesting. The equivalent would be for a Spanish nationalist to call their child Santiago. Nobody would make the association, though. I wonder whether the name Jordi has the same connotation in Catalonia.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 05:37:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or - apparently - Birgitta in Sweden. And nobody would even know she is our patron saint without googling...

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 06:00:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry to disappoint but I knew.  

When I was a kid we even celebrated St. Lucia's Day.

Eventually West Sweden and East Sweden, currently known as "Norway" and "Finland," will rejoin into a single homeland.  As is in accordance with Truth and Right.  

;-0


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 10:22:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doesn't everyone in Spain know that "Santiago" (St James) was the rallying cry of the reconquest?

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Mar 18th, 2007 at 11:44:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but that doesn't mean that Santiago is a name particularly associated with Spanish nationalists.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 18th, 2007 at 12:04:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, and I didn't know that until you mentioned it.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Mar 21st, 2007 at 10:32:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously your ancestors were the "lucky" ones...


The indentured servants who served a tidy little period of 4 to 7 years polishing the master's silver and china and then taking their place in colonial high society, were a minuscule fraction of the great unsung hundreds of thousands of White slaves who were worked to death in this country from the early l7th century onward.

Up to one-half of all the arrivals in the American colonies were White slaves and they were America's first slaves. These Whites were slaves for life, long before Blacks ever were. This slavery was even hereditary. White children born to White slaves were enslaved too.

Whites were auctioned on the block with children sold and separated from their parents and wives sold and separated from their husbands. Free Black property owners strutted the streets of northern and southern American cities while White slaves were worked to death in the sugar mills of Barbados and Jamaica and the plantations of Virginia.

The Establishment has created the misnomer of "indentured servitude" to explain away and minimize the fact of White slavery. But bound Whites in early America called themselves slaves. Nine-tenths of the White slavery in America was conducted without indentures of any kind but according to the so-called "custom of the country," as it was known, which was lifetime slavery administered by the White slave merchants themselves.



Before British slavers traveled to Africa's western coast to buy Black slaves from African chieftains, they sold their own White working class kindred ("the surplus poor" as they were known) from the streets and towns of England, into slavery. Tens of thousands of these White slaves were kidnapped children. In fact the very origin of the word kidnapped is kid-nabbed, the stealing of White children for enslavement.

According to the English Dictionary of the Underworld, under the heading kidnapper is the following definition: "A stealer of human beings, esp. of children; originally for exportation to the plantations of North America."

The center of the trade in child-slaves was in the port cities of Britain and Scotland:

"Press gangs in the hire of local merchants roamed the streets, seizing `by force such boys as seemed proper subjects for the slave trade.' Children were driven in flocks through the town and confined for shipment in barns...So flagrant was the practice that people in the countryside about Aberdeen avoided bringing children into the city for fear they might be stolen; and so widespread was the collusion of merchants, shippers, suppliers and even magistrates that the man who exposed it was forced to recant and run out of town." (Van der Zee, Bound Over, p. 210).

White slaves transported to the colonies suffered a staggering loss of life in the 17th and 18th century. During the voyage to America it was customary to keep the White slaves below deck for the entire nine to twelve week journey. A White slave would be confined to a hole not more than sixteen feet long, chained with 50 other men to a board, with padlocked collars around their necks. The weeks of confinement below deck in the ship's stifling hold often resulted in outbreaks of contagious disease which would sweep through the "cargo" of White "freight" chained in the bowels of the ship.


http://torontonews.wordpress.com/2007/01/15/white-slaves/
by oldfrog on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 06:30:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The money quote.
The Establishment has created the misnomer of "indentured servitude" to explain away and minimize the fact of White slavery. But bound Whites in early America called themselves slaves. Nine-tenths of the White slavery in America was conducted without indentures of any kind but according to the so-called "custom of the country," as it was known, which was lifetime slavery administered by the White slave merchants themselves.


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 06:35:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ojo

Caveat Emptor.

This is drawn from the writings of the revisionist group that I mentioned, the one led by the Holocaust denier.  This is the problem, and this is the reason that if I'm serious I need to start digging in journal, books, and records.  The story should be told, but the wheat from the chaff, that's a fight.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 06:48:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's go then to the Library of Congress:
Before the Civil War, slaves and indentured servants were considered personal property, and they or their descendants could be sold or inherited like any other personalty. Like other property, human chattel was governed largely by laws of individual states. Generally, these laws concerning indentured servants and slaves did not differentiate between the sexes. Some, however, addressed only women. Regardless of their country of origin, many early immigrants were indentured servants, people who sold their labor in exchange for passage to the New World and housing on their arrival. Initially, most laws passed concerned indentured servants, but around the middle of the seventeenth century, colonial laws began to reflect differences between indentured servants and slaves. More important, the laws began to differentiate between races: the association of "servitude for natural life" with people of African descent became common. Re Negro John Punch (1640) was one of the early cases that made a racial distinction among indentured servants.
The page emphasizes the racist distinction between black and white servants.

Also, under a marketista narrative, "people who sold their labor in exchange for passage to the New World and housing on their arrival" is just a form of 'labour market', isn't it? In a discussion with my sister a few months ago, she emphasised that modern understanding is that human rights cannot be renounced, that is, indentured servitude contracts in which one agrees to become someone else's slave in exchange for some good or service would be unenforceable. But I'm sure one can find libertarian theorists who would argue that they should be.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 07:01:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a Heinlein book (that I can not remember the title of) that starts with the discussion of two rich upper-class guys - one leftie and one rigthie - who can not agree on wheter the long-term contracts of the Venus laborers are fair or not. The discussion ends with them getting drunk and waking up the next morning on the way to Venus as contract-laborers...

Dum de di dum...

Made some good points about contracts and slavery, as well as empire and labor market.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 08:49:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Logic of Empire is a science fiction novella by Robert A. Heinlein. Part of his Future History series, it originally appeared in Astounding Science Fiction (March 1941), and was collected in The Green Hills of Earth (and subsequently The Past Through Tomorrow).

Ostensibly a tale about a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, and his struggle to free himself from the oppressive circumstances in which he is plunged, this story also serves to explain how slavery develops in a new colony.

Two well-off Earth men are arguing about whether there is slavery on Venus, and one of them gets shanghaied there. Upon his arrival, he finds his contract sold to a farmer. His discovery that it will take him years to work off his debt is compounded by his realization that he cannot get to sleep at night without rhira, an expensive local narcotic.



"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 03:51:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the one!

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 07:31:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You were just helped by an omniqærent utopian.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 07:38:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there was some stuff at the beginning of the People's history of the United States about how white and black labor wasn't much divided in the seventeenth century, and how they were subsequently segregated with regards to create a racism and keep african-americans in much worse conditions

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 09:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, they called themselves slaves.  If you remember in Frederick Douglass's autobiography, he mentions two Irishmen he met while working on the docks in Baltimore who asked him what kind of slave he was, bound for life or a term.  Douglass was Black (mixed race, actually) and a slave, but those Irish dockworkers pretty much saw themselves as his peers.   I believe in a book called The Wages of Whiteness, the author talks about the interchangeability of the terms slave and servant in the (British American) Colonial era, which is the reason the free American servant class starts to prefer the word "Hand" to describe what they were doing for a living.  You see this apparently in the "Help Wanted" ads of the day, as employers started to use the new preferred term to attract workers.  The term servant became unappealing to "free" Americans because of its association with slavery, which was becoming ever more associated with color, as well as the need to undergird the economic growth of the USA in the early-mid 19th century just before the Civil War.  Don't forget, also the term wage-slave, which is not just meant to be ironic.
by jjellin on Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 08:03:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the interchangeability of the terms slave and servant

In classical Latin, slave is servus. Sclavus is medieval Latin.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 08:08:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
interesting--I wish I had studied Latin
by jjellin on Tue Mar 20th, 2007 at 06:23:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't forget, also the term wage-slave, which is not just meant to be ironic.

This thread has made me realise that.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 08:09:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have lost my access to the UCR library subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary online, but MfM is on a university campus...

I suggest looking at the attested instances of "indentured servant", and the etymology of "kidnap" in the OED.

Wikipedia has

Kidnapping, a word derived from kid = 'child' and nap (nab) = 'snatch', recorded since 1673, was originally used as a term for the practice of stealing children for use as servants or laborers in the American colonies


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 06:41:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More wikipedia:
Indentured servitude was a method of increasing the number of colonists, especially in the British colonies. Convict labour only provided so many people, and since the journey across the Atlantic was dangerous, other means of encouraging settlement were necessary. Contract-labourers became an important a group of people and so numerous that they were mentioned in the United States Constitution:
"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons".


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 06:48:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All our ancestors were the "lucky" ones -- history is pretty bloody.

I appreciate that you're trying to research this, but the quote is troubling:

Whites were slaves for life, long before Blacks ever were.

This slavery was even hereditary

Free Black property owners strutted the streets

Before British slavers traveled to Africa's western coast to buy Black slaves from African chieftains

This is all language of denial, one-upping, and minimising.  While much in the quote may be factual (and I'm certainly not vouching for all of it), the tone is racist.  When I looked at the source, it is not a Toronto news source, but a blogger in Toronto who seems to be obsessed with immigration and minorities.

This was my concern with the topic and what I was warning MfM about -- it has and is used commonly among hate groups.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 07:01:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This would be from the same revisionist history group I was talking about.  This ultimate source is a holocaust denier.  This is what's frustrating, it did happen, but it's the use of it that makes it so explosive to touch.

Waxing philosophical, the black death and the renaiscance saw the end of feudalism in western Europe, but the emergance of nonvoluntary economic relationship not bound by social norms (for better or worse serfs had certain protections provided by law, slaves do not) in Europe as the continent began to explore and colonize did occur.

Returning to my daily line about social embeddedness, the English possessions were unique in the extent to which responsibilities where one sided.  While the Spanish practiced slavery it seems to me that it existed in a regulating social context far greater than the English. I could be wrong. Slaves had no station in public life, but did have social protection from the worst sorts of abuses.  In the English possessions, where the economic incentives were the greatest (on the sugar plantations in the Caribbean) conditions for slaves were the most horrific.

While slaves in the current US where allowed (with notable exceptions) to have families, and have a family life, instilling control by cooption rather than coercion.  In the Carribbean it was common to treat slaves as little more than livestock with breeding being conducted as such.  No small wonder then that slave rebellions were more common in the Carribean than North America.....

I appear to have started something.

St. Patrick is on my mind, and I'm going to take my leave, before I become incoherent.

Let me say this.  This history needs to be rescued from those who would use it to justify racism.  By ignoring it's existence, when it did happen, it only lends credence to those who use it for nefarious purposes.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 07:43:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wiki has an interesting entry on the writer, Michael A. Hoffman, who, as you say, they describe as a Holocaust denier and conspiracy theorist.  The latter evidently refers to this:

Another of Hoffman's subjects of study is indentured servitude and slavery in America; he contends that a widespread history of white slavery has been overlooked by most historians. In his book They Were White and They Were Slaves, Hoffman attempts to demonstrate a social structure situating poor whites as holding the lowest post in colonial and post-colonial America


Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 07:54:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note to self: Read Thread then post.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 10:11:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All our ancestors were the "lucky" ones -- history is pretty bloody.

Obviously...because they survived long enough to procreate...ha-ha.
I remember someone said as a joke, back in Serbia: "We are all descendants of the deserters from the Kosovo battle", ha-ha. Cause a lot of the Serbian men had been killed there in 1389...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Mar 18th, 2007 at 08:10:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Free Black property owners strutted the streets of northern and southern American cities while White slaves were worked to death...

Excuse me but what the heck is that all about?  

And this:

These Whites were slaves for life, long before Blacks ever were...

Is flat-out wrong.  

This has the stench of racism.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 10:09:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Historian here. Historian of the early modern Atlantic world, even.

Yes, Cromwell deported large numbers of people to the New World where they existed in brutal servitude, alongside many others who laboured in less-than-free conditions. Were they "slaves"? That's a thorny linguistic and legal problem.

In theory, England had no unfree labourers, serfdom having died out very early in the medieval period. All labourers were routinely called "servants" in the 17th century.

In practise, indenture temporarily robbed labourers of almost all legal rights, and was used extensively to solve the labour shortage in England's colonies. They might be kidnaped from the streets or duped into signing a contract. Orphans and the landless might be shipped out (to a tidy profit for parish authorities).
Or, in the case of Cromwell's retributions, they might be shipped out in punishment for  a crime (although the volume of the Cromwell cases are really exceptional).

Their contracts could be bought and sold, and their legal rights were few. Sometimes they rebelled, spectacularly. A group of servants bound for Virginia were shipwrecked on Bermuda in 1609. The settlers and the working sailors of the ship mutinied against their masters in the Virginia company, refusing to leave Bermuda. Virginia Company leaders had to  hang one man and execute another by firing squad in order to get them to leave and carry on to Virginia.

(Beware, by the way, of geography. In the 17th century, "New England" and "Virginia" were used vaguely by English sources, often simply meaning "the mainland continent." "America" to Englishmen and women often meant the Caribbean insular colonies, not the continent. People sold "to Virginia" might end up anywhere from Surinam to Nova Scotia.)

The first Africans sold in Virginia (the actual colony)in 1619 were probably treated as indentured servants; a black man, Antonio Johnson, is recorded as such. By the 1640s, he was a free man with his own "servants."

Race-based slavery of lifetime servitude reserved for non-whites alreay existed in the 17th century, having developed in the Iberian colonies with a basis in various Iberian laws. Gradually, various English-speaking colonies adopted a race-based definition of slavery, which made forced servitude both inheritable and lifetime, was a gradual process  over the course of the 17th century. (Unitary Moonbat and I did a brief history of this at dKos, btw.
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/11/19/203156/38 ) By 1750, there's a hug difference between indentured servant and slave in England's colonies. In 1650, it's not so clear.

Much colonial labour was less than free(whether "slave" or "servant"); a nice consideration of some of the meanings of unfreedom in the English Atlantic world (and the resistance to such unfreedom by labouring peoples) can be found in
The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic by Peter Linebaugh and Maruc Rediker.

 I'm sorry, this has turned into an overlong comment.
I also want to add the caveat that French, Dutch, and Iberian definitions and practises all have their own unique histories; I'm restricting myself to the English cases here.

Progressive Historians and The Next Agenda

by aphra behn (aphra (underscore) behn (at) bigfoot (dot) com) on Tue Mar 20th, 2007 at 07:24:29 PM EST


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