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Pertinent musings by Lotus Prince:

History of Black slavery in America

As per historical records, all slaves were not black and there were all kind of slaves. Slavery originated during the times of kings and mostly it was white kings, who treated their own people as slaves. It was this concept which was later applied to blacks in Africa who were powerless to defend themselves. This was why famous Irish poet wrote these verses, when they were faced with British oppression.


‘’It is better that

we are in our graves,

Than doing slavery,

for slaves

- J. Swift’’


Some early records of American slavery

Martin Luther King

Jamestown had exported 10 tons of tobacco to Europe and was a boomtown. The export business was going so well the colonists were able to afford two imports which would greatly contribute to their productivity and quality of life. 20 Blacks from Africa and 90 women from England.

The Africans were paid for in food; each woman’ cost 120 pounds of tobacco. The Blacks were bought as indentured servants from a passing Dutch ship low on food, and the women were supplied by a private English company. Those who married the women had to pay their passage - 120 pounds of tobacco.

(Gene Barios, Tobacco BBS: tobacco news)

So at the beginning, in early 16th century, Black men (by Dutch ships) and white women (from England) were traded for tobacco. Although they were both servants, blacks were indented servants.

As Native American societies in the Southeast were primarily matrilineal, African males who married Native American women often became members of the wife’s clan and citizens of the respective nation. As relationships grew, the lines of distinction began to blur.

The evolution of red-black people began to pursue its own course; many of the people who came to be known as slaves, free people of colour, Africans, or Indians were most often the product of integrating cultures. In areas such as Southeastern Virginia, the Low Country of the Carolinas, and Silver Bluff, S.C., communities of Afro-Indians began to spring up.

The depth and complexity of this intermixture is revealed in a 1740 slave code in South Carolina: all Negroes and Indians, (free Indians in amity with this government, and Negroes, mulattos, and mustezoes, who are now free, excepted) mulattos or mustezoes who are now, or shall hereafter be in this province, and all their issue and offspring...shall be and they are hereby declared to be, and remain hereafter absolute slaves.

(Patrick Minges, Beneath the Underdog: Race, Religion and the “Trail of Tears)

This was how white race treated fellow humans not more than 300 years ago; even so called brutal Red Indians did not treat their animals this way. But then again they had no guilt over it, as they thought Back men were inferior and they were there to serve the white race.

They failed to comprehend the meaning of Chief Seattle’s statement, “tribe after tribe, nation after nation,” To be fair to white race, it was not only the colour difference that made them think black man as a slave, but behavioral differences as well (due to poverty existed among black nations). And religion too openly stated that Back man was created to serve the white race, by the white god.

One has to understand at that point of time, church had more power than kings certain issues and kings used this power to control their own kingdom in every possible way. So the concept of slavery was nothing new, but a projection of the slavery existed among white race towards blacks, with the blessing of so called servants of god.

Slavery in the United States was governed by an extensive body of law developed from the 1660s to the 1860s. Every slave state had its own slave code and body of court decisions.

All slave codes made slavery a permanent condition, inherited through the mother, and defined slaves as property, usually in the same terms as those applied to real estate. Slaves, being property, could not own property or be a party to a contract. Since marriage is a form of a contract, no slave marriage had any legal standing. All codes also had sections regulating free blacks, who were still subject to controls on their movements and employment and were often required to leave the state after emancipation.

(American Treasures of the Library of Congress: MEMORY, Slavery in the Capitol,http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm009.html)

But then as it was predicted, “Everything was a wave in an ocean”, Indians were enjoying the land for thousands of years, and white race have done it for mere 300 years and now their era is slowly coming to an end. And now it is nothing to do with black and white anymore, but economic prosperity at large. The great American dream of a super nation is withering away and new era is downing.

Had anyone predicted 20 years ago, that America would be ruled by a black president in 20 years time, he would have been considered as a lunatic. It was never a possibility as America was the most powerful country in the world and black man was considered as a second class citizen. Perhaps this was why Shakespeare said “There is tide in men’s affairs, if taken at high, lead to fortunes. Omitted all our voyages in life bound to end in shallow waters”.

Although it was taken at high,
at last, after 300 years tide seems
to be changing

Although things changed over the time, the quality of life of Black did not change, significantly. Blacks were oppressed in many ways for many years and this is vividly illustrated in a statement of Late Martin Luther King, which I have quoted above.


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