Week 12 – 4/3 Colonizationist Movements


18 thoughts on “Week 12 – 4/3 Colonizationist Movements

  1. Daniel April 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm Reply

    One thing I found interesting during the reading was the discussion of John Clarkson’s exposure to slavery during his time in the British navy. During this period he worked with and around slaves and the slave trade, and as Schama writes, “there was no time nor place nor point for Midshipsman Clarkson to develop a tender conscience”. It was not until after this prolonged exposure to the crime that, under the influence of his brother, he began to develop his strong anti-slavery sentiments. Regardless, this experience was considered an “asset” to his brother’s campaign for abolition, as such exposure enabled him to provide eyewitness evidence of various horrors of the slave trade.

    • Christine Shaw April 3, 2013 at 12:16 am Reply

      I agree, I was also surprised and impressed by the strength of John Clarkson’s dedication to the success of Sierra Leone and to ensuring the blacks received fair treatment, given that he previously hadn’t shown much antislavery sentiment.

      • taymn April 3, 2013 at 1:47 am

        The more Clarkson became involved with the colonizationist movement, the more passionate he became about helping the slaves. I wonder why his feelings were so different from those who spent more time with the slaves (like their masters).

    • ewm1 April 3, 2013 at 2:09 am Reply

      To him it probably seemed like everyday life. Slaves had always been slaves and he didn’t see much point in changing that until his brother convinced him otherwise. His brother was a very influential person after all, we see in the book how many followers he gains.

      • Gahbrielle Armrdi April 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

        In response to taymn, I think that Clarkson took the time to hear the perspectives of the ex-slaves which then fueled his compassion for the movement.

  2. Christine Shaw April 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm Reply

    The contrasting motivations held by some of the people who supported the settlement for free blacks in Sierra Leone were interesting. For example, they wanted to help the blacks in Nova Scotia escape poverty, have their own land to become economically self-supporting, and have the same “civil, military, and commercial rights” as whites, with the additional benefit that the British would be supporting goods not obtained from slave labor (Schama 277). However, the leaders of the company also hoped to receive significant economic benefits by trading with Sierra Leone and potentially with the rest of the West African coast. After John Clarkson returned to England, the former motives lost their influence over the white leaders. The next governors of the colony seemed to abandon the altruistic ideals that the Company initially claimed to support in favor of turning to strategies that would maximize their economic profit.

    • ewm1 April 3, 2013 at 1:53 am Reply

      The goal was always to get Freetown to a point where it could support itself economically. I think, to an extent, they deserved to be able to levy taxes on the town after it had reached this point. They poured money into it to get it on its feet, any profit they make from that is repaying that debt. Simply transporting the ex-slaves, schama says, cost “three times the anual cost of the Nova Scotia civil government.”(295)

      • Gahbrielle Armrdi April 3, 2013 at 11:26 am

        I think that the Nova Scotia Colony’s refusal to pay taxes was more of a psychological issue. One of the shops in the town for example, viewed taxes as “a chain to bind us as slaves forever”.

    • Daniel April 3, 2013 at 2:42 am Reply

      The distinction made between a free slave society and a colony was even interesting taken by itself. Granville Sharp was uncomfortable engaging in colonization that would make the Africans politically and economically dependent on the whites.

    • cal72013 April 3, 2013 at 11:16 am Reply

      I also thought it was interesting that after Clarkson left, like Christine said, the new leaders of the colony focused more on achieving economic success than human rights. Although asking the ex-slaves to pay some kind of tax may not have been unreasonable, the tax they demanded was too high. Many of the settlers saw the tax, the low wages they were paid, and the high price of necessities as re-enslavement to the Sierra Leone company.

  3. cal72013 April 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm Reply

    I found it interesting that, even though Clarkson and the “Nova Scotians,” in Freetown mainly had goals of racial equality, they also achieved higher gender equality than many other parts of the world. In 1792, because women made up over a third of all heads of households, they were given the right to vote. The women in Freetown were the “first women to cast their votes for any kind of public office anywhere in the world,” (374), something “even the French Revolution in its most radical phase had not been able to contemplate,” (374). Later, when the rebellious Nova Scotians wrote out their own laws, they included a law stating that adulterous men had to pay a fine equal to that of adulterous women. This was “another first for Sierra Leone,” (392). Considering how closely related the abolition and women’s rights movements were later in the United States and England, this seemed significant.

  4. Gahbrielle Armrdi April 2, 2013 at 11:31 pm Reply

    For the 1790’s, this colony was well ahead of its time. Not only were blacks trying to live at peace with whites, women were also given rights. This Anglo African colony in Sierra Leone was the first to have “women to cast their votes for any kind of public office anywhere in the world”(pg. 374). In Rough Crossings, Schama emphasized the fact that these women were “black liberated slaves who had chosen British freedom.” This black colony was well aware of their rights as civilized humans. I found it interesting produced a social and political contract that was the first official African American example of a “demand for representation”(347).

    • taymn April 3, 2013 at 2:58 am Reply

      I agree. This does show that the colony was ahead of its time and a positive example for both England and the United States. It is seen in the role that women took in its society and the later women’s rights movements that Caroline mentioned.

  5. ewm1 April 2, 2013 at 11:59 pm Reply

    This weeks reading discussed mainly the settlement of Freetown in Africa, though I thought some of the more interesting points were what the British people thought of slavery and how some acted against it. Opponents to ending the slave trade in 1789 believed “it would hand an immensely lucrative commerce over to the arch-enemy” while proponents believed “sugar produced by free labour would undercut that produced by slaves.”(263) While both of these are valid points, the later becomes even more likely when we see the action British anti-slavery advocates take in the “rejection of West Indian sugar” which they believed had been “tainted by the blood of Africans.”(265) From our readings from Kevin Bales, we know that people have taken up similar actions against slave made rugs in today’s economy. I think it’s very interesting to see the similar ways in which people pursue the same goals in across such a wide time period.

    • Daniel April 3, 2013 at 2:59 am Reply

      Bales does show tn his book that, in some instances of this type of action, actually hurts the slaves who made them. In his example the rejection of soccer balls made by Pakistani children only led to move them from a relatively cush job of soccer ball manufacturing to much more menial labor. I wonder if the same is not true to an extent in the Atlantic slave trade: that rejection of slave-made goods did not necessarily make better the immediate conditions of slaves (not taking into consideration such boycotts’ long-term affects on slavery as a whole). Perhaps it did.

    • cal72013 April 3, 2013 at 11:22 am Reply

      I think boycotting slave made sugar in England spread an overall negative opinion of slavery which eventually brought an end to the slave trade. In this way it seemed to have a positive effect, and from what we read in Kevin Bales the same strategy seems to work today as well.

  6. taymn April 3, 2013 at 12:00 am Reply

    I was moved by the different families and their reasons for relocating. One man said that he would rather die in his own country than to die in the “cold place” that he was in (Schama 290). Clarkson tried to those that he could. He wrote to Mrs. Hughes to free Caesar Smith’s daughter who was working for her and her husband (302). He also offered to buy another slave’s freedom so that he could leave for Freetown with his family (291). John Clarkson’s dedication to the people really stood out to me. He did all that he could to make sure that the families were making the best decisions for themselves. He almost died at sea to get them to Freetown. When speaking of the blacks, he once mentioned, “…for I considered them as men having the same feelings as myself and therefore I did not dare to sport with their destiny” (277). This comment says a lot about Clarkson. It says that he, not like many others at the time, thought that the blacks deserve the thoughtfulness that he did, even though he was a white man. His comment also shows his dedication and commitment to them.

    • Christine Shaw April 3, 2013 at 12:20 am Reply

      Clarkson’s treatment of the blacks at Sierra Leone definitely stands in contrast to the views of many whites at the time. Even some white abolitionists who worked to free slaves still held racial prejudices and viewed blacks as inferior, but Clarkson’s actions and the statements in his journal and letters show that he was an exception.

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