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Black people

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brightncheerful
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Black people

#129749

Postby brightncheerful » April 3rd, 2018, 5:07 pm

I am doing research for a project I am writing about the possible consequences for the UK economy after the UK leaves the EU next year, with particular reference to the retail property market. Needing to learn more about the ways in which the UK economy developed centuries before we joined the Common Market, I was browsing London University's distance-learning course for BA in History when amongst the required reading list for the course the book title jumped out at me: Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain, by Peter Fryer. So I went onto Amazon and became so engrossed reading the 'look inside' excerpt that I've bought and am going to read the whole book.

Never having given it any thought before, but so far from the excerpt alone, I have learned that the word 'negro' comes from the Spanish or Portuguese word for 'black; that both Bristol (slave. trade for sugar) and London were the principal ports for the slave trade in Britain, until Liverpool started competing in a big way (slave trade for cotton).

Complementary to my project is the trade in imported food stuffs. Demand for sugar in UK came into its own following the arrival of tea, coffee and chocolate, all of which were bitter in taste. Although sugar production was most profitable way of getting money, the problem was the heavy labour involved because the Europeans refused to work except as supervisors so the solution was to bring in slaves from Africa. "By 1750 sugar surpassed grain as "the most valuable commodity in European trade — it made up a fifth of all European imports and in the last decades of the century four-fifths of the sugar came from the British and French colonies in the West Indies."

Early days I know, but the impression I have so far is that had it not been for the availability of cheap and/or slave labour, the UK economy would never have got off the ground, let alone had an empire.

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Re: Black people

#129756

Postby Lootman » April 3rd, 2018, 5:16 pm

brightncheerful wrote:Early days I know, but the impression I have so far is that had it not been for the availability of cheap and/or slave labour, the UK economy would never have got off the ground, let alone had an empire.

I'm not aware that there was ever any slavery in mainland Britain. I am willing to be proven wrong but, had there been, there surely would have been a sizeable population of blacks in the UK, in the way that there is in the Americas. Growing up, I can't recall seeing many blacks at all.

Of course, it's possible to make money from slavery without actually having slaves yourself. You just trade them and ship them around, and buy the products they produce. But even so, in that case, the economic benefit from slavery should be more pronounced in the US than the UK.

And I have reason to doubt that because, net of everything, that benefit may not exist. For instance, of the two nations most like the US, i.e. Canada and Australia, neither had slavery and yet their wealth and GDP per capita is similar to the US.

If that is true, and the benefit of slavery nets to zero, then how can that be? My guess would be that the net negatives of having a large underclass in the US has detracted from the economy as much as slave labour added to it in the earlier days. Perhaps if that had been foreseen, we would not have bothered with slavery at all.

brightncheerful
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Re: Black people

#129772

Postby brightncheerful » April 3rd, 2018, 6:16 pm

Black people have been in Britain since the Romans!

More info on Wiki under the History section -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_British#Antiquity_and_Middle_Ages

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Re: Black people

#129791

Postby Lootman » April 3rd, 2018, 6:40 pm

brightncheerful wrote:Black people have been in Britain since the Romans!

More info on Wiki under the History section -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_British#Antiquity_and_Middle_Ages

Yes, but not in any great numbers. The same article puts the entire non-white population of Britain in 1948 at about 20,000.

It was decolonisation that began the real inbound migration of non-whites, to the point now where Leicester is about 50/50 and destined to be a minority white city.

Outside of London and Liverpool it would be entirely possible for someone in Britain to live a lifetime and die in 1950 without ever seeing a black person. Or if they did it was an American GI.

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Re: Black people

#129794

Postby brightncheerful » April 3rd, 2018, 6:54 pm

1948 Britain population 50,026,000. so non-white 1 in 2500

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Re: Black people

#129797

Postby Slarti » April 3rd, 2018, 7:01 pm

Lootman wrote:
brightncheerful wrote:Early days I know, but the impression I have so far is that had it not been for the availability of cheap and/or slave labour, the UK economy would never have got off the ground, let alone had an empire.

I'm not aware that there was ever any slavery in mainland Britain. I am willing to be proven wrong but, had there been, there surely would have been a sizeable population of blacks in the UK, in the way that there is in the Americas. Growing up, I can't recall seeing many blacks at all.

Of course, it's possible to make money from slavery without actually having slaves yourself. You just trade them and ship them around, and buy the products they produce. But even so, in that case, the economic benefit from slavery should be more pronounced in the US than the UK.

And I have reason to doubt that because, net of everything, that benefit may not exist. For instance, of the two nations most like the US, i.e. Canada and Australia, neither had slavery and yet their wealth and GDP per capita is similar to the US.

If that is true, and the benefit of slavery nets to zero, then how can that be? My guess would be that the net negatives of having a large underclass in the US has detracted from the economy as much as slave labour added to it in the earlier days. Perhaps if that had been foreseen, we would not have bothered with slavery at all.


Slavery in mainland UK was always a case of personal slaves, as far as I know.

Our economic benefit from salves came from
a) the triangle trade, where we took trinkets to Africa, used them to buy slaves which were shipped to the Windies/USA and sold, and the proceeds used to buy sugar or tobacco for shipment back to the UK. This was massively profitable.
b) The salves ran "our" sugar plantations at a silly low cost and most of the sugar plantations were "ours". And very, very profitable.
c) Slavery in other locations in Africa and Asia gave us profits which couldn't have been achieved by legitimate trade.

All that slavery paid for the industrial revolution and led to the economic slavery our ancestors suffered in the mines and factories in the next century.

Slarti

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Re: Black people

#129799

Postby Slarti » April 3rd, 2018, 7:06 pm

Lootman wrote:Outside of London and Liverpool it would be entirely possible for someone in Britain to live a lifetime and die in 1950 without ever seeing a black person. Or if they did it was an American GI.


Don't forget South Shields where there has been a Yemeni community since the 1890s.

I'm sure there were others. Like all the ports, eg Newcastle, Glasgow, Belfast, Southampton, etc.


Slarti

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Re: Black people

#129801

Postby Lootman » April 3rd, 2018, 7:08 pm

Slarti wrote: that slavery paid for the industrial revolution and led to the economic slavery our ancestors suffered in the mines and factories in the next century.

That's certainly one theory. But to even be in a position to perform that business the UK must have already had a considerable amount of wealth and the ability to project power.

Interestingly, we didn't buy and trade slaves everywhere. We did of course move some Chinese to India ("coolies"). We moved some Indians to Africa. And we moved some Africans to the Americas. In each case we saw opportunities and were able to act on it. Unfair by modern standards perhaps. But any historical academic will tell you it is wrong to judge people from centuries ago by modern standards.

No, we bought what was on offer. In the Orient, that was silk and spices. In the Americas, it was cotton and tobacco. In Africa, it was people. Africans were selling each other into slavery centuries before white people showed up and bought what they were selling.

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Re: Black people

#130665

Postby stevensfo » April 8th, 2018, 8:47 am

From my memories of History, the British were never really keen on slavery itself, though it's true they gained a lot from the actual trade. Blowing the dust from my old notes: Opposition to slavery began in the 1750s and in 1772 a court ruled that slavery in Britain was illegal, even though the trade was continuing. Anti slave trade organisations grew and all trade within the British Empire was made illegal in 1807. Worldwide in 1833.

Of course, the Muslim slave trade from the Ottoman Empire and Middle East predates the European trade by centuries (Look at the museums in Malta and Gozo!) and continued long after, with Europeans clashing with Arabs and trying to free child slaves up to the 1900s. Slavery in Oman was made illegal in 1970.


Steve

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Re: Black people

#130825

Postby colin » April 8th, 2018, 9:39 pm

the problem was the heavy labour involved because the Europeans refused to work except as supervisors so the solution was to bring in slaves from Africa. "By 1750 sugar
uh? how did you come to that conclusion? Sounds a bit like the moral distortion peddled by remainers who justify immigration on the grounds that British people don't want to do hard jobs.

Plantation owners definitely did not use African slaves because Europeans did not like physical work, they used slaves because they did not have to pay them any wages!!, not too dissimilar from today when businesses want to retain access to cheap East European labour. I used to have a neighbour in the Yorkshire dales who grew up harvesting hay with with a scythe and for thousands of years agriculture has been practiced by Europeans in such a way.

brightncheerful
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Re: Black people

#130888

Postby brightncheerful » April 9th, 2018, 11:57 am

uh? how did you come to that conclusion?


I didn't. It's in the book I'm reading.

-----

White slavery was rife in Bristol.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3664862/The-forgotten-history-of-Britains-white-slaves.html

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Re: Black people

#130908

Postby stevensfo » April 9th, 2018, 1:13 pm

I didn't. It's in the book I'm reading.


A small quote:
The authors are right to remind us that African slavery was one form of bondage among many, rather than a unique and unprecedented condition.

Yes, and something we all so often forget. As I already said, the museums in Malta and Gozo have some fascinating exhibitions about the muslim slave trade that spanned the Mediterranean sea and African continent for hundreds of years before and after the European slave trade. There was an exhibition at the War Museum in Valetta where some paintings had to be removed because they were considered too distressing. Small European children being paraded and sold in North African slave markets.

I'd imagine that for most of history, slavery has been a normal part of society. Without it we probably wouldn't have the pyramids or Hadrian's wall. :-)

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Re: Black people

#130921

Postby Urbandreamer » April 9th, 2018, 2:24 pm

stevensfo wrote:I'd imagine that for most of history, slavery has been a normal part of society. Without it we probably wouldn't have the pyramids or Hadrian's wall. :-)

Steve


Not sure about Hadrian's wall (as in I don't know) but since the Holywood films dipicting slave labour building the pyramids there has been pleanty of archological evidence that they were not built with slaves.

As said, the Barbary pirates pre-date our own efforts and use to take entire vilages from the coast of the UK (Baltimore for example) as slaves.

I'm less convinced by the industry-slave argument. We associate US cotton with slavery, but the cotton industry pre-dates that and we had a serious (wool) textile industry in the days of Charlemagne. Please understand that I am not saying that people in the UK were not slave traders, just that it's not a simple picture.

Indeed, living as I do in a former king-cotton area, I am well aware of things like the cotton-famine (caused by the US civil war) and the support of the cotton workers recognised by Lincoln.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21057494

PS can I also recomend for the OP.
An Economic History of the World since 1400, if you have an Audible subscription and are looking for something to do with your credit.
You can find extracts on Youtube to check if you would like it.
Also of particular interest might be the Hanseatic League, given your subject matter.

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Re: Black people

#130925

Postby colin » April 9th, 2018, 2:36 pm

Well yes the Roman Empire would have not achieved it's phenomenal growth without slavery, but then not all slaves were equal in Roman society, for a child slave laboring in the mines life was brutal and short, for a favored domestic slave in a rich family's household then at least they were well fed and protected, which may well have been more than they might have expected from their own societies as free people.
Apparently slaves did not build the pyramids, that is just a Judao/Christian myth.

But they concept that most Europeans in the 17th 18th centuries and later into early modern times had any choice in the matter as whether they would do hard labour or not is absurd,without powered machines all labour is hard, unlike Roman society only the rich elites could afford slaves and without slaves they still would not have done the work themselves because they could afford not to.

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Re: Black people

#131017

Postby Charlottesquare » April 9th, 2018, 10:39 pm

From memory the West Indies had incredible difficulties attracting European labour due to the very limited life expectancy on the islands, even long term military postings there being viewed as very high risk (possible death sentence). The US colonies also had significant labour problems hence very heavy use of indentured servitude as a mechanism to provide same.

One book that I really enjoyed from Economic History at university was Ralph Davies, The Rise of the Atlantic Economies, though not concerned solely with slavery/labour issues they are covered and it is a very useful overview of the economics. As a general read it may be considered a little dry but compared with wading through Economic History Review journal articles ( which can immerse you for hours in statistical analysis of say wool exports/similar ) it is a pretty light read and gives a broad sweep, overview in about 350 pages.

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Re: Black people

#131246

Postby Slarti » April 10th, 2018, 5:00 pm

Lootman wrote:
Slarti wrote: that slavery paid for the industrial revolution and led to the economic slavery our ancestors suffered in the mines and factories in the next century.

That's certainly one theory. But to even be in a position to perform that business the UK must have already had a considerable amount of wealth and the ability to project power.

Interestingly, we didn't buy and trade slaves everywhere. We did of course move some Chinese to India ("coolies"). We moved some Indians to Africa. And we moved some Africans to the Americas. In each case we saw opportunities and were able to act on it. Unfair by modern standards perhaps. But any historical academic will tell you it is wrong to judge people from centuries ago by modern standards.

No, we bought what was on offer. In the Orient, that was silk and spices. In the Americas, it was cotton and tobacco. In Africa, it was people. Africans were selling each other into slavery centuries before white people showed up and bought what they were selling.


Maybe not everywhere, but we certainly did on the sugar plantations of the West Indies which brought massive wealth to their owners. Many of whom became the financiers of the industrial revolution, if they were not the owners of the raw material production.

Slarti

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Re: Black people

#131618

Postby colin » April 12th, 2018, 9:27 am

Remember The Alamo!
Where brave Americans fought for their right to hold black people in bondage and slavery.
https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/146405

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Re: Black people

#131686

Postby Lootman » April 12th, 2018, 2:07 pm

colin wrote:Remember The Alamo! Where brave Americans fought for their right to hold black people in bondage and slavery.

I guess if race politics is your thing then everything looks like race politics, and you try and inject it into everything.

I think it is called playing a card.

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Re: Black people

#131806

Postby colin » April 12th, 2018, 10:35 pm

Given the topic of this thread that is quite an ignorant comment Lootman

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Re: Black people

#131807

Postby Lootman » April 12th, 2018, 10:41 pm

colin wrote:Given the topic of this thread that is quite an ignorant comment Lootman

No, the Alamo conflict was essentially one between Caucasians and Hispanics.

To play a black card is consistent with the topic but not with the Alamo where it was at best a peripheral issue.


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