Irish Slaves?

September 2020 Forums General discussion Irish Slaves?

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  • #205583
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    I provided a link that counters the arguement that the Irish were slaves too which is used by many on the racist right-wing to discredit BLM and other anti-racists in the USA

    Message #205583

    Streets protests in the USA

    Here is another article on the same topic

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/08/06/ireland-and-slavery-debating-the-irish-slaves-myth/

     

    #205589
    marcos
    Participant

    https://www.pitt.edu/~hirtle/uujec/white.html

    Iris were discriminated like the Italians because they were Catholics, but they were not slaves. Anticatholicism was widely spread in the USA

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by marcos.
    #205591
    marcos
    Participant

    https://www.c-span.org/video/?415064-1/depth-gerald-horne

    Gerald Horne on the so-called freedom of religion in the USA and anti-catholicism prevailed. France and Spain were Catholics empires

    #205592
    marcos
    Participant

    https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/weber/protestant-ethic/

    The Protestant ethics and the spirit of capitalism

    #205593
    ALB
    Participant

    Interesting article especially the bit towards the end about Irish indentured labourers being involved in slave revolts but just because the claim that there were some Irish slaves in the West Indies in the mid 1600s has been exploited by white suprematists does not mean that this is therefore a myth.

    Gerry Adams is criticised for saying that some people from Ireland were sold into slavery in the West Indies. James Connolly made a similar claim. Refuting this is not a question of political correctness but of historical fact.

    I don’t think anyone denies that under Cromwell thousands of defeated Irish soldiers were deported to the West Indies and sold to plantation owners to work for them. It has even be claimed that these were transported there in chains in same ships that were used in the African slave trade.

    The argument seems to be that they weren’t sold as chattel slaves but as indentured labourers. But the fact remains that they were sold.

    For instance, Liam Hogan, one of those who exposes the “Irish slaves myth” writes :

    ”While the majority of Irish people who became indentured servants in the colonies did so willingly (why they felt they had to so is, of course, another question), a not insignificant number were forcibly deported and sold into indentured servitude. This peaked just after the brutalCromwellian conquest of Irelandwhen there were orders given in multiple counties to round up and deport those who, it was claimed, could not support themselves.

    Indentured servitude was more insidious than simply a case of labor exploitation. A four- to seven-year indenture to serve out, bond servants lives’ and movements were subject to control and dominance by their masters’ even outside of work hours, with punitive restrictions placed on marriage, locomotion, and pregnancy.“

    https://psmag.com/.amp/social-justice/the-irish-were-not-slaves

    Even if these involuntary indentured labourers were not legally the property of those who bought them their labour was and their working conditions were the same as chattel slaves, often working alongside them. If they escaped they too could be rounded up and returned and punished. The difference was that while for a chattel slave this exploitation of their labour was for life for an involuntary indentured labourer this was for a period only, up to seven years. I don’t think it unreasonable to describe their situation as being temporary slaves; or that some Irish people were sold into this temporary slavery.

    In any event, I don’t see the fact that there might have been a few thousand white chattel slaves for a while in anyway (which there doesn’t seem to have been) mitigates the horrors of the African slave trade and of the lifelong chattel slavery of Africans which replaced indentured labour … until, that is, after the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies slave labour was replaced by indentured labourers imported from India (it is estimated that between 1838 and 1917 some half a million were shipped in to work on the plantations).

     

     

     

    #205595
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    We had  slavery in Scotland in the mines until 1799

    https://socialist-courier.blogspot.com/2012/10/when-miners-were-chattel-slaves-and-not.html

    In the 17th and 18th centuries, coal miners in Scotland, and their families, were bound to the colliery in which they worked and the service of its owner.  This bondage was set into law by an Act of Parliament in 1606, which ordained that “no person should fee, hire or conduce and salters, colliers or coal bearers without a written authority from the master whom they had last served”. The cruel edict reduced the Scottish collier to the position of a serf or a slave. By that Act, workmen in mines, whether miners, pickmen, winding-men, firemen, or in any other service of the mine, were prohibited from leaving that service either in hope of greater gain or of greater ease, or for any other reason, without the consent of the coal-owner, or of the Sheriff of the County; and any one receiving a runaway into his service and refusing to return him within twenty-four hours was to be fined one hundred pounds Scots. A collier lacking such written authority could be “reclaimed” by his former master “within a year and a day”.  If the new master did not surrender the collier, he could be fined and the collier who deserted was considered to be a thief and punished accordingly.  The Act also gave the coal owners and masters the powers to  to apprehend “vagabonds and sturdy beggars” and put them to work in the mines.  A further Act of 1641 extended those enslaved to include other workers in the mines and forced the colliers to work six days a week. The Habeas Corpus Act of Scotland, in 1701, which declared that “the imprisonment of persons without expressing the reasons thereof, and delaying to put them to trial is contrary to law”; and that “no person shall hereafter be imprisoned for custody in order to take his trial for any crime or offence without a warrant or writ expressing the particular cause for which he is imprisoned” specifically stated “that this present Act is in no way to be extended to colliers and salters.”

    So much for Braveheart’s “FREEEEDOMMMMMM”

    A bit of trivia, Robert Burns, once applied for an overseers job in one of the West Indian sugar plantations. He fully understood the role describing it as ‘a poor Negro driver’

    But he got himself published and so he didn’t pursue that career . Ironic when you think he wrote

    ‘The Slaves Lament’

    It was in sweet Senegal that my foes did me enthral,
    For the lands of Virginia, – ginia, O:
    Torn from that lovely shore, and must never see it more;
    And alas! I am weary, weary O:
    Torn from that lovely shore, and must never see it more;
    And alas! I am weary, weary O.

    All on that charming coast is no bitter snow and frost,
    Like the lands of Virginia, – ginia, O:
    There streams for ever flow, and there flowers for ever blow,
    And alas! I am weary, weary O:
    There streams for ever flow, and there flowers for ever blow,
    And alas! I am weary, weary O:

    The burden I must bear, while the cruel scourge I fear,
    In the lands of Virginia, – ginia, O;
    And I think on friends most dear, with the bitter, bitter tear,
    And alas! I am weary, weary O:
    And I think on friends most dear, with the bitter, bitter tear,
    And alas! I am weary, weary O:

    We should be making the focus of some of our problem in relating modern wage-slavery with the older forms, our lack of genuine freedom and liberty.

    #205597
    ALB
    Participant

    I think this is partly a question of what is meant by slavery: is it just chattel slavery (where the slave is the property of the slave owner) or does it include other forms of legally enforced forced labour?

    It would be better if the historians talked of the “myth of Irish chattel slaves” rather than the “myth of Irish slaves.” Otherwise they are suggesting that those Irish people  transported against their will to the West Indies to be sold to plantation owners to work for them for a number of years were not in some real sense slaves. They would certainly be classified as slaves under definitions of modern slavery.

    For the record (and without vouching for its accuracy), here is what James Connolly wrote in his The Re-Conquest of Ireland (1915):

    ”In addition to this transplanting to Connacht, gangs of soldiery were despatched throughout Ireland to kidnap young boys and girls of tender years to be sold into slavery in the West Indies. Sir William Petty, ancestor of the Lansdowne family and a greedy and unscrupulous land-thief, declared that in some Irish accounts the number so sold into slavery was estimated at one hundred thousand.

    This ancestor of Lord Lansdowne, the founder of the noble Lansdowne family, Sir William Petty, landed in Ireland in 1652 with a total capital of all his fortune of £500. But he came over in the wake of Cromwell’s army, and got himself appointed ‘Physician to the Army of Ireland’. In 1662 he was made one of a Court of Commissioners of Irish Estates, and also Surveyor-General for Ireland. As the native Irish were then being hunted to death, or transported in slave-gangs to Barbadoes, the latter fact gave this worthy ancestor of a worthy lord excellent opportunities to ‘invest’ his £500 to good purpose.

    How this hunting of the Irish was going on whilst Sir William Petty was founding the noble Lansdowne family may be gauged from the fact that over 100,000 men, women and children were transported to the West Indies, there to be sold into slavery upon the tobacco plantations.”

    There are still some descendants of the Irish indentured slave labourers living In Barbados:

    The Irish of Barbados (Photos)

    #205598
    ALB
    Participant

    I should add that that report in the Irish American paper is not that reliable when it comes to history. The Monmouth revolt in 1685 was a Protestant uprising in the west of England against the catholic king James II. Those sentenced to transportation to the West Indies would not have been Irish catholics  but English anti-catholics. James got his come uppance three years later when he was dethroned and replaced by William of Orange in the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688.

    #205599
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    There must have been some degree of folk memory of this, as I remember being told stories about Irish and Scots being taken as slaves by “the English” by my father, when I was a child in the 1960s.

    His family came from Mayo in the West of Ireland and the story I was told was that families were taken over to America as endentured workers (I think endentured labourers could be endentured for up to 2 years) but they often slipped away and there was a underground system to get them back to Ireland, which they frequently did. The advantage the Irish and the Scots had was that when they slipped away they were indistinguishable from the free population many of who were Irish and Scottish. The story I was told, was that it was for this reason that the plantation owners switched over to using black slaves, because runaways could be easily identified.

    There is a similar tale of the clearances of the Border Reivers by King James 1st and 6th. Many of the wild border families were expelled over to Ireland during the plantation of Ireland, the Grahams and the Armstrongs were banished to Fermanagh, but within twenty years, 80% of them were back on the border and became the basis of the Moss Troopers.

    The other part of my family were Northumbrian miners and my sister did the family tree and when you look at their census records they moved about quite a bit between pit villages that could be as far apart as forty miles. This didn’t seem to make any sense until you looked at pit ownership and the villages they were moved to and from all served pits owned by the same pit owner, so when one pit opened people were removed from their housing and told to relocate to the new pit, which sort of fits in with Alan’s information about Scottish miners.

    No doubt the African Slaves had a far worse time of it than the Irish or Scots, but getting into a debate about the level of hideousness our respective ancestors experienced doesn’t disguise the fact that they all had a pretty hideous time. There’s hardly a village in Northumberland or Durham that does not have a monument to a pit disaster somewhere.

    Identity Politics is being used to divide workers against each other, when in actual fact all of capitalism is built on theft, murder, deportation, etc. etc. All the equality campaigners strive for is a levelling out of the playing field, not changing the game and it becomes another reform measure to divert the energy and anger of the working class away from the real issue, capitalism, without causing any real disturbance to the system itself.

     

     

    #205600
    marcos
    Participant

    All that fallacy about Irish slave is only a pretext used by the white supremacist to justify the history of African slaves

    #205601
    ALB
    Participant

    Even if there had been Irish chattel slaves I don’t see how that would justify the enslavement of Africans. But then I wouldn’t expect white supremacists to use logical arguments..

    #205602
    marcos
    Participant

    They do not have any logical argument, as well, they do not have any historical logical arguments to prove that Egipt was populated by white men first before the black Egyptians

    #205604
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    2nd part of the essay on Irish slaves

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/08/07/ireland-and-slavery-framing-irish-complicity-in-the-slave-trade/

    The escaped slave Frederick Douglass was shocked by the conditions he encountered during visits to Ireland in the mid-1840s.

    “I see much here,” he wrote in March of 1846, “to remind me of my former condition, and I confess I should be ashamed to lift up my voice against American slavery, but that I know the cause of humanity is one the world over.”

    He wrote movingly of finding it painful to walk Dublin’s streets, then “almost literally alive with beggars, displaying the greatest wretchedness – mere stumps of men, without feet, without legs, without hands, without arms…pressing their way through the muddy streets…casting sad looks to the right and left, in the hope of catching the eye of a passing stranger.”

    In the far-Right’s attempts to concoct a ‘white slaves’ myth to counter the surging global protests against racism Douglass pinpointed the dynamic precisely when he observed that:

    “a large class of writers…are influenced by no higher motive than that of covering up our national sins; and thus many have harped upon the wrongs of Irishmen, while in truth they care no more about Irishmen, or the wrongs of Irishmen, than they care about the whipped, gagged, and thumb-screwed slave. They would as willingly sell on the auction-block an Irishman, if it were popular to do so, as an African”.

    #205605
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    We shouldn’t forget that it was the Scottish aristocracy which was largely responsible for the Highland Clearances sending them to toil in Canada mostly with ramifications for today with large parts of Scotland remaining de-populated and present SNP government policy to encourage re-settlement.

    And the export of British orphan children to the Australia and Canada all the way up to the mid 20th C was also a form of indentured slavery.

    #205606
    ALB
    Participant

    Yes Frederick Douglass seems a good bloke.

    The more you look into this the murkier it becomes. I didn’t know this for example:

    https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/indepth/opinion/native-americans-adopted-slavery-white-settlers-181225180750948.html

    I suppose it must be true.

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