Thursday, April 2, 2009

The White Slaves of America

There is so much untold history out there that America and the Western countries seem to suppress giving an impression of a collaborated hidden world agenda that prevents many inconvenient truths from coming out. The 21st century economies triggered an influx of migrant workers from every corners of the globe to the first world including from the developing countries. But back in the 17th and 19th century there was also a similar demand for foreign workers in the countryside and emerging cities of the New World. The astonishing part about this is that the conditions on recruiting and employing these labourers are still prevalent in the modern times, yet quite surprisingly not too many know about. If you are picturing a scene straight out of Alex Haley’s Roots, you are dead wrong.

North Americans are so hammered about White guilt for enslaving Black people that they are made to feel eternal reparation should be done for whatever plight these people might have had in today's world as a result of slavery. Long before the first Black slaves arrived in America, slavery was already institutionalized in the ancient times by Egypt, Greece, and Rome and some other Muslim countries. Such institutions were a mixture of debt-slavery, punishment for crime, the enslavement of prisoners of war, child abandonment, and the birth of slave children to slaves. Starting in the year 793 AD, the Vikings made frequent raids in Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean area, Ireland and Scotland and turned slavery as the pillar of their commerce. The Nordics marauders sold their “Thralls” to the Byzantine and Arab markets. Slavery was abolished in the Scandinavian culture when Christianity was introduced. In the 17th century, British America’s thirteen colonies created a huge demand for labour. This was at a time when Britain was suffering from a huge number of unemployed poor people living in the urban areas. Displaced from their land and not being able to find work in the cities, many of these people signed contracts of indenture and took a one-way boat ride to the Americas. The establishment coined the word “indentured servitude” for those who could not afford to pay their passage. It is a legal agreement enforced by the court binding them to work for an employer with no wages from three to seven years until their land and sea transportation including lodging had been covered. The papers were often forged by many recuiters. who conive with kidnappers and press-gangs. Although the papers do not literally specify a lifetime of bondage, the slave-owner had the legal right to increase the length of term on the slightest pretext.

Because of abuse of the system the indentures on British citizens in the Colonies were not legally enforced unless it bore the endorsement of the British Magistrate of the isles hence, they can bargain for their deal before leaving for North America. Non-British immigrants were in a worst situation since no law protected them from unscrupulous recruiters. They were forced to negotiate with their future masters before leaving the ship. England’s next door neighbour, Ireland, quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. The population fell from 1,500,000 to 600,000 within a decade. Irish fathers were not allowed to take their wives and children to their voyage to the Atlantic ripping families apart. In 1650, over 100,000 Irish children between 10 and 14 years of age were taken from their parents and shipped to work for the English Settlers in the West Indies, Virginia, and New England. In the same decade, 52,000 Irish women and children were sold to Barbados and Virginia. The list goes on and on.

The White slavery in America was an expansion of the same practice from the mother country, Britain. The legal form of contracted indentured servitude was just in reality a lifetime form of slavery. . The center of the trade in child-slaves was in the port cities of Britain and Scotland: Press gangs were hired by local merchants to roam the street seizing by force young boys for the slave trade. Children were driven in flocks through the town and confined for shipment in barns. What was outrageous was the fact White children were openly seized from orphanages and workhouses and made to labor in factories for up to sixteen hours locked-up and without any breaks. Children who fell asleep during work were lashed into wakefulness by a whip. Children were also beaten with the use of iron bars called “billy-rollers”. Thousands of children are mangled by factory machines that left them disfigured or disabled for life without any compensation. These Mills and kind of treatment continued to spread to the New World.
The White “freights” transported across the Atlantic took nine to twelve weeks of travel. They were cramped below the deck of the ship and prone to experience outbreaks of contagious diseases which often results in the loss of half of the human cargo. Also, before leaving the port from England, they are given food rations that are supposed to last up until the entire journey. Because the amount of food issued was usually inadequate than not, many starved to death before reaching their destination. And if a person dies half-way across the journey, the surviving family members had to shoulder the deceased fare including their own. Usually, travelers start their journey with sufficient funds to pay their way only to be overcharged when they arrive thereby causing them more money to owe and longer serving time with their new masters. Soon as they arrive at the port of entry, Whites were auctioned on the block with children, men and women separated from each other. Black slaves cost more than the White slaves. Between 1609 until the early 1800s, two-thirds of all the White colonists who came to the New World came as slaves who cleared the forests, drained the swamps, built the roads, sweated in the fields, and died in hellish factories. Since they have no rights, fugitive slave laws applied to them when ever they flee their masters. Black slaves were often not used beyond the limits of human endurance because they are expensive compared to the White slaves of Britain considered to be its unwanted “surplus population thus so easily expendable. The call for the reparation on the effects of slavery should not strictly be focused on Blacks alone. What should be done is to correct the ignorance and deliberate suppression of the truth that once upon a time, humans treated their fellow human beings like merchandise. Slavery in all forms should be rid among all the nations of the world.

Did you know that the expression "kidnapping," (originally kid-nabbing) had its origin in the abduction of poor White children to be sold into factory slavery in Britain or plantation slavery in America? Did you know that the expression "spirited away" likewise originated with the White slavers, who were also called "spirits"? The word "slave" itself is derived from the word "slav," a reference to the Eastern European White people who, among others, were enslaved by their fellow Whites, by the Mongols, and by the Arabs over a period of many centuries.

Reference: They Were White and They Were Slaves: The Untold History of the Enslavement of Whites in Early America and Industrial Britain: by Michael Hoffman