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Enslavement - History

By Ashleylister @ashleylister

Enslavement - History

When I was young and starting out in my working life, I was amused by a cartoon poster on the staff room wall depicting a group of disgruntled workers, with one of them shouting, “They can’t sack us, slaves have to be sold!”

It was harmless and was meant in good humor at the time, but it wouldn’t be acceptable now.

Recently, a statue of merchant Edward Colston was toppled and pushed into Bristol Harbour during the George Floyd protests related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Colston was a figure of controversy for a number of years, concerning his involvement in the Atlantic slave trade. He is one of many British merchant / slave traders and there are things to learn about all of them, good and bad. Colston’s statue was removed from the harbor and will take a place in a Bristol museum with his full details. Perhaps that would be the way forward with other controversial figures. Every city and town in the United Kingdom has area names and street names that can be traced back to a potential slave trade origin. It would be wrong to rename them. Morally, history cannot be changed, rewritten or hidden, as in Orwell’s ‘1984’. We learn from history and move on.

Across Morecambe Bay, on Sunderland Point, lies Sambo’s Grave, a place I have visited many times. Sunderland Point was an 18th century port serving Lancaster and surrounding areas with cotton, sugar and slave ships from the Caribbean. Sambo is thought to be a young slave belonging to a ship’s captain.He took ill and died at Sunderland Point, and as a non-Christian, was buried in unconsecrated ground.

From Wikipedia – ‘Some sixty years after the death, a retired head master from Lancaster Boys’ Grammar School, Mr James Watson, heard the story and raised money from summer visitors to the area for a memorial to be placed on the unmarked grave. Watson, who was the brother of prominent Lancaster slave trader, William Watson, also wrote the epitaph that now marks the grave,

Enslavement - History

 Slavery is still out there, hard to spot, but it exists in different forms, some of it close to home. County line drug runners, under-age prostitution, sweat shop factory workers. Vulnerable people from here and abroad promised a better life. Modern slavery.

Sonnet to William Wilberforce

Thy country, Wilberforce, with just disdain,

     Hears thee, by cruel men and impious, call'd

   Fanatic, for thy zeal to loose th' enthrall'd

   From exile, public sale, and slav'ry's chain.

   Friend of the poor, the wrong'd, the fetter-gall'd,

   Fear not lest labor such as thine be vain!

   Thou hast achiev'd a part; hast gain'd the ear

   Of Britain's senate to thy glorious cause;

   Hope smiles, joy springs, and tho' cold caution pause

   And weave delay, the better hour is near,

   That shall remunerate thy toils severe

   By peace for Afric, fenc'd with British laws.

   Enjoy what thou hast won, esteem and love

   From all the just on earth, and all the blest above!

   By William Cowper

   Thanks for reading, Pam x

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