Skip

Slavery in the new world from Africa to the Americas.
March 15, 2013 11:04 AM   Subscribe

The blog US Slave collects long-form articles on every aspect of the history of slavery, primarily focussing on African slaves in the USA and their descendents. Among the content there is this biography of Ota Benga, the Congolese Pygmy man who was put on display in the monkey house at the Bronx Zoo, and several posts about Sarah "Saartjie" Baartman, the so-called Hottentot Venus.

Among the hundreds of posts are this one about the 1848 slave escape from Washington, D.C. on the schooner Pearl; the forgotten story of Native American slavery; and an article on how the island of Diego Garcia was 'sanitised' of its inhabitants by the British government in the 1960s (not really related to slavery, but worth reading). There is also a three-post series on currencies exchanged for slaves: manillas, trade beads, cowrie shells.

Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the page for a large collection of links to slave narratives and books on slavery, all in the public domain and available online.
posted by daisyk (16 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I used to work with a young black woman whose family had moved from Jamaica to Los Angeles when she was young. She went to American public school in LA.

One time I was talking to her and the subject of slavery came up, and listening to her it became clear that she thought slavery was something that had only happened in the US. That it was exclusively a feature of the antebellum South. That's what her schooling had taught her.

It was entirely news to her that she was descended from black slaves in Jamaica. She was shocked by that.

The American South was a big user of slavery, but it was far from the only one, and not the majority of the market. Slaves were used in Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and lots of other places. (And that's why there are so many people of African descent in those places. Virtually all of them are descended from slaves.)

I commend this author for his work, but why the concentration on the US?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:34 AM on March 15, 2013


I commend this author for his work, but why the concentration on the US?

And furthermore, why not also make it about WWE? I think the blog should expand its subject matter to stretch beyond the purview of the blog's very title. In fact, one time I heard a Jamaican woman talking about WWE. She kept saying that her son's favorite wrestler was John Cena. Why would the blog not focus on the WWE? Seems like a real failure of this blog called "US Slave".
posted by Greg Nog at 11:51 AM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


At 21, Ota Benga was brought to the United States by African explorer Samuel Verner. Verner displayed Ota Benga alongside six other male and female pygmies of the Mbuti tribe at the St. Louis World Fair in 1904

Doesn't this seem like a weird, antiquated way to put this? I think I'd have written it more like "alongside 6 other Mbuti men and women..."
posted by small_ruminant at 11:51 AM on March 15, 2013


why the concentration on the US?

I didn't find a specific answer to that question on the blog, but my guess is: slavery in general is a really big subject, slavery in the US is not exactly a niche topic, and the blogger(s) are probably located in the US and are documenting local history.
posted by asperity at 11:54 AM on March 15, 2013


That's an astonishing story, Chocolate Pickle. I think my education in Britain in the 1990s did significantly better at that particular aspect, but given that the history of black people in the UK was touched on perhaps once in all that time, I can't help but wonder what else I missed learning.

I commend this author for his work, but why the concentration on the US?

I might not have made it clear enough in the post, but the blog is a curated collection of articles, not all written by the same author.
posted by daisyk at 11:56 AM on March 15, 2013


I commend this author for his work, but why the concentration on the US?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:34 AM on March 15 [+] [!]


The author is probably an American so that makes the US history of slavery an area of interest to him.

Also a general catalog of slavery in all places from pre-history to the modern-day would probably be a life-long project.
posted by Avenger at 11:59 AM on March 15, 2013


Doesn't this seem like a weird, antiquated way to put this? I think I'd have written it more like "alongside 6 other Mbuti men and women..."

Use of "pygmies" is probably better understood than "Mbuti" (is it accurate? I have't checked) and it conveys a sense of time and place.

I would argue, for the writer, that is more important at the time it was written
But there are also dissenting voices, so be it.
posted by Mezentian at 12:09 PM on March 15, 2013


Where are people getting that the author is american? The site is on a Swiss domain and their English is absolutely not fluent. Reading the link on Sarah Baartman I assumed the author was Dutch, but given the domain I would say German-Swiss.
posted by Iteki at 12:25 PM on March 15, 2013


Thanks for posting this. The article on the Pearl was great stuff, and Mary and Emily Edmonson in particular were fascinating to read about.
posted by asperity at 12:29 PM on March 15, 2013


Use of "pygmies" is probably better understood than "Mbuti"

I guess it was the "male and female" that seemed weird, since we describe animals that way more than people. I believe that wording is modern, describing their terrible treatment in the early 1900s.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:32 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ignore me. Blogspot changes the domain to your countries TLD. The author says they are in the US. The phrasing "to see what Sarah have tried to hide" is very euro-english though, sorry for the confusion!
posted by Iteki at 12:34 PM on March 15, 2013


given that the history of black people in the UK was touched on perhaps once in all that time, I can't help but wonder what else I missed learning.


As fate would have it, the complete history of humans on this rock unfolds conveniently split into enough cultural and geographic perspectives such that no one person gets to see the totality of it all.
posted by Fupped Duck at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2013




CPAC Participant Defends Slavery At Minority Outreach Panel: It Gave ‘Food And Shelter’ To Blacks

Unbelievable. And for a bonus point:
"At one point, a woman challenged him on the Republican Party’s roots, to which Terry responded, 'I didn’t know the legacy of the Republican Party included women correcting men in public.'"
posted by torticat at 5:47 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was entirely news to her that she was descended from black slaves in Jamaica. She was shocked by that.

The American South was a big user of slavery, but it was far from the only one, and not the majority of the market. Slaves were used in Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and lots of other places. (And that's why there are so many people of African descent in those places. Virtually all of them are descended from slaves.)


Understanding The development of the plantation system is probably crucial to understanding the American South.
The Spanish settled Jamaica, Cuba and Hispaniola, amongst other islands. In 1607 the English established a colony on the east coast of America, named Virginia. In 1623 and 1625, they settled the islands of St Kitts and Barbados in the Caribbean. In 1655 the British took the island of Jamaica from the Spanish.
[...]
This system did not supply enough workers as the tobacco farms became sugar plantations. Sugar needed a large number of workers. The Portuguese had been using enslaved Africans to grow sugar in the Madeira Islands (in the north Atlantic Ocean) since about 1460. Africa was closer to the Caribbean than Europe was. The African climate was similar to that of the Caribbean.
This was a great interview -
Fresh Air: A Barbados Family Tree With 'Sugar In The Blood'
that is the quintessence of the hideousness of slavery, isn't it, that a family member could own their child and - or you know what I mean, or own series of children and live with that and remain - and keep them in continued slavery.
[...]
one French planter declared that up to a third of his slave stock came from his "own loins" was the quote. So it was quite common, this very profligate sexual behavior with slaves.

GROSS: That's just kind of chilling, what you just said. It almost sounds like you're breeding your own slaves to work the plantation.
[...]
it was not until I was reading some of the work by the abolitionists and one of their big, kind of, campaigns was that it was blood-stained sugar. That was what they described it, that it carried the blood of slaves. And I remember actually at that point putting some sugar into something and thinking, ah, it's this.
[...]
in America the parallels would be, as I say, cotton or tobacco - how these simple - these commodities have such real visceral impact on the way our lives unfold and how extraordinary that is. That we don't consume them with any of those realizations, but that's the truth of it.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:09 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]




« Older Stolen Years   |   My Name Is Not Michael Keaton Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post