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Canadian History

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Starting with Sir John A. MacDonald

Greg Piasetzki: McMaster University's ignorant apology over Sir John A. Macdonald Day​

Attacks on Canada's first prime minister show no effort at a balanced review of the historical record
Author of the article:
Greg Piasetzki, Special to National Post
Published Jan 15, 2024 • Last updated 5 hours ago • 4 minute read

Greg Piasetzki is a Toronto lawyer and citizen of the Metis Nation of Ontario.


83 Comments

statue
A statue of Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, by sculptor Ruth Abernethy, is seen before being removed from outside a library in downtown Picton, Ont., in 2021. A 2020 poll found that a majority of Canadians opposed the removal of statues of Macdonald. PHOTO BY DEREK BALDWIN/POSTMEDIA NEWS

McMaster University recently felt it necessary to apologize for its “grave oversight” of including “Sir John A. Macdonald Day” in its university calendar of events.

Why? Because, according to McMaster, it is “a day that celebrates a person responsible for the genocide and oppression of Indigenous peoples in Canada.”

The National Post news story about the university’s apology added that Macdonald was also known for his part in the “development of the residential school system” and the Chinese Head Tax. However, both sources offer a wildly incomplete representation of Macdonald’s record, and a misunderstanding of actual Canadian history.

McMaster is not the only Canadian institution guilty of such ahistorical thinking. Queen’s University removed his name from Macdonald Hall, numerous statutes of Macdonald have disappeared from public view and his name has been dropped from schools and public buildings across Canada. Often with little to no public input and certainly with no effort at a balanced review of the historical record.

In fact, on a review of his record, Sir John A. Macdonald can reasonably be credited with saving more Indigenous lives than any other Canadian prime minister.

His Conservative governments in both pre-Confederation Upper Canada and post-Confederation Canada ran decades long programs to vaccinate all Indigenous Canadians, even in remote areas, against the deadly scourge of smallpox for which they had little resistance.

In the late 1870s, when the western buffalo population collapsed, a resource tens of thousands of Indigenous-Canadians relied on for food and clothing, he immediately implemented what was almost certainly the largest famine relief program in Canadian history. It was a huge logistical effort given there was no railway across Canada. Food had to be shipped through the United States and then north to Canada by horse-drawn carts. A journey of months.

Each of these initiatives saved tens of thousands of Indigenous lives.

Macdonald also insisted on having treaties in place before allowing settlement of the vast expanse of western and Northern Canada acquired through the purchase of Rupert’s Land from Great Britain. And he created the Northwest Mounted Police to patrol the border against American settlers and liquor traders and to keep the peace in the new territory.

We can contrast Canada’s settlement experience with that of the United States where 60,000 or more Indigenous-Americans (and 20,000 settlers and soldiers) lost their lives in Indian wars. In Canada there were none.

As to residential schools, they existed in Canada long before Confederation and were voluntarily attended. Macdonald’s government did build 185 day schools and 20 residential schools largely in compliance with its obligations under the Western Treaties, but attendance was voluntary at both during his lifetime. A policy that continued for many years after his death.

The department of Indian Affairs delivered to Parliament each year a lengthy report summarizing its activities across the country including student attendance at the Indian schools.

The government paid the churches operating the residential schools a fee for each day a child was in school. One of the tasks of the local Indian agent was to inspect each school monthly, attend a roll call and ensure that every child was present. No child could simply disappear.

Many Canadians, understandably given media coverage, believe that most Indigenous children attended residential schools. However, this is untrue. The majority of Indigenous children who attended school (and many didn’t attend at all) went to a day school and walked home each night.

Of the minority of Indigenous students who attended residential schools, 50 per cent dropped out after Grade 1 and almost none made it to Grade 5. This was true from the 1890s into the 1950s, by which point the government had begun closing the residential schools.

As to the Chinese Head Tax, an objectively distasteful policy, it was a response to the flood of Chinese workers that arrived on the West Coast following the discovery of gold — first in California and then in British Columbia. The workers were fleeing a decades long civil war in China in which the death toll had reached 80 million at a time when Canada’s population was a mere four million.

One of the major complaints against the workers was that they had no interest in settling in Canada. They hoped to save enough after three or four years to live off the interest for the rest of their lives in China.

Macdonald was under tremendous pressure from British Columbia to discourage the flood of Chinese workers entering the province. Showing the political acumen for which he was famous, he first delayed the issue, arguing in Parliament that the workers were essential to the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Then, when the CPR was almost complete and he could delay the issue no longer, he set up a commission, appointed known political allies as its members, and six months later received its recommendation for a $10 head tax. British Columbia had been seeking $100.

There was a political firestorm following the release of the committee’s report, and Macdonald ultimately settled for a $50 head tax. However, the head tax had little impact on Chinese immigration, which recovered within five years to its pre-head tax levels.

Fifteen years later, it was the government of Liberal prime minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, which doubled the head tax to $100. Followed by a commission stocked with his political allies that two years later recommended a $500 head tax Laurier then implemented.

By all means, Canadians should reflect on the lessons to be learned from their history — the good and the bad — the problems their ancestors confronted and the political and practical limitations on what was possible.

But doing so requires examining the actual historical record rather than relying solely on current media narratives influenced heavily by the agenda of the government of the day.

National Post

 
That the policies considered so vile by today’s activists were continued and even enhanced by subsequent and mainly LPC governments without cost to those men is particularly galling.
 

Lynn McDonald: Henry Dundas was a conscientious abolitionist, despite what his critics say​

No one in the anti-Dundas crowd has so far bothered to look at what Dundas actually said, or why he did what he did
Author of the article:
Lynn McDonald, Special to National Post
Published Sep 18, 2023 • Last updated Sep 18, 2023 • 3 minute read

Lynn McDonald is professor emerita at the University of Guelph, a former MP and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

85 Comments

Henry Dundas


Henry Dundas PHOTO BY NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

The anti-Dundas crowd are still at it, repeating the same old lines about Henry Dundas delaying the abolition of the slave trade or reverting to vague concerns about “colonizers,” and moving forward with a plan to spend $8.6 million renaming Dundas Street in Toronto.

Meanwhile, the case for Dundas as an effective abolitionist only gets better. There are now three strong peer-reviewed articles that came out after Toronto city council made its (unfortunate) decision to drop the Dundas Street name, written by Angela McCarthy in the journal Scottish Affairs.

No one in the anti-Dundas crowd has so far bothered to look at what Dundas actually stated in Parliament in 1792, when he moved his “gradual” amendment to William Wilberforce’s abolition motion. He said that he had “long entertained the same opinion” on abolition as Wilberforce and his supporters, though he had different views on how to effect such a change.

He asked the obvious question: “What was to prevent an Ostend (Belgian) or Dutch merchant from carrying slaves from Africa to the West India islands?” Obviously, there was nothing. And indeed, for years after Britain finally banned the slave trade in 1807, they did. Ships from Portugal, France and Spain transported millions of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic after 1807.

Dundas had a far better understanding than Wilberforce of the need for a comprehensive approach to end both the slave trade and slavery itself, considering the extensive involvement of other countries. In his 1792 speech, Dundas also raised a subject seldom addressed: the complicity of African leaders in the trade. He mused about them stopping it, which they did not:

“If once a prince of an enlightened character should rise up in that hemisphere, his first act would be to make the means of carrying off all slaves from thence impracticable.… What reason had they to suppose that the light of heaven would never descend upon that continent? From that moment there must be an end of African trade.

“The first system of improvement, the first idea of happiness that would arise in that continent, would bring with it the downfall of the African slave trade, and that in a more effectual … way than if done by regulations of this country.”

How can any city councillor or staffer read those words and conclude that Dundas was pro-slavery and wanted to delay abolition?

The Atlantic slave trade wasn’t ended till around 1850, after years of Britain pressing other countries to join in the ban, and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines intercepting ships still at it. This work was managed by a new department in the Foreign Office, which operated from 1841 to 1882. Over this period, the British Parliament adopted 40 criminal laws to try to stop its own citizens from carrying on the slave trade.

In 1811, it became a felony for Britons to engage in it, punishable by up to 14 years penal transportation, meaning to Australia or another colony for forced labour. The United Kingdom passed scores of laws geared at stopping British participation in the trade.

Other laws were aimed at foreign ships. In 1845, the Aberdeen Act permitted British cruisers to stop suspected Brazilian slave ships. Brazil had a large number of enslaved people. Portugal, its imperial power, had been the first in the slave trade and had the largest share of the market.

The relevant speeches in Parliament can be seen for free at the Toronto Reference Library, located on Yonge Street. On entering, one might stop to thank Egerton Ryerson — the other most falsely accused historical figure in Toronto — for his successful promotion of free public libraries, with free public education.

One might also note that Yonge Street is named after Sir George Yonge, fifth baronet and governor of Cape Colony, South Africa, from 1799 to 1801. Complaints about his incompetence went back to Britain: he was “wild and extravagant,” and inattentive to his duties.

He was not criminally charged, but ship logbooks showed that he and another official illegally brought some 600 slaves into the colony. The conscientious cabinet minister who had Yonge recalled was none other than Henry Dundas.

National Post


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Becoming a member of the Faculty of Advocates in 1763, he soon acquired a leading position in the Scottish legal system. He became Solicitor General for Scotland in 1766; but after his appointment as Lord Advocate in 1775, he gradually relinquished his legal practice to devote his attention more exclusively to public affairs.[8]

From 1776-78, Dundas acted as counsel to an escaped slave, Joseph Knight, who had been purchased in Jamaica and later taken to Scotland. As a young man Knight tried to escape from his owner, and when that failed he launched a legal battle for his freedom. The case went to Scotland's highest civil court, where Dundas led Knight's legal team, in the case of Knight v. Wedderburn.[9] Dundas was assisted by prominent members of the Scottish Enlightenment, and also the writer Samuel Johnson, whose biographer James Boswell later wrote: "I cannot too highly praise the speech which Mr. Henry Dundas generously contributed to the cause of the sooty stranger. ...And I do declare, that upon this memorable question he impressed me, and I believe all his audience, with such feelings as were produced by some of the most eminent orations of antiquity. ."[10][11] Dundas argued that "as Christianity gained ground in different nations, slavery was abolished", and, noting an earlier anti-slavery ruling in Somerset v Stewart in England, Dundas said "he hoped for the honour of Scotland, that the supreme Court of this country would not be the only court that would give its sanction to so barbarous a claim."[12] Dundas concluded his remarks by stating: "Human nature, my Lords, spurns at the thought of slavery among any part of our species." His pleading in Scotland's highest court was successful, and the Court ruled: "the dominion assumed over this Negro, under the law of Jamaica, being unjust, could not be supported in this country to any extent". The result was a landmark decision that declared that no person could be a slave on Scottish soil.[13] Michael Fry said that Dundas's success in Knight v Wedderburn was "instrumental in prohibiting not only negro slavery but also native serfdom in Scotland."[14]



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Concurrent activity in Henry Dundas's Scotland - the release of Scottish slaves from Scottish coalmines and Scottish masters - it too incorporated the gradualist approach as a means of getting it adopted.

Coal Mines and Salt pans​

An act of the Scottish Parliament of 1606 permanently bound coal miners, coal carriers (women and children) and salt pan workers to their workplace. Due to the use of coal to boil seawater, salt pans and coal mines were closely associated. It was felt that if workers were free to leave such harsh working conditions to seek employment elsewhere, it would be difficult to find replacements. Also, that only those accustomed to such work from a young age would become skilled in it and be able to endure it. (As the workers received wages, this was technically serfdom rather than true slavery.) If a coal mine or salt works was sold, its workforce was also transferred from one owner to another. The Colliers and Salters (Scotland) Act 1775 was intended to alleviate this 'state of slavery or bondage', and to attract more workers to expand the industries. New workers were not subject to servitude. Those already under servitude could seek freedom after serving seven or ten years depending on age, but being indebted to their employers often prevented them from doing this. The Colliers (Scotland) Act 1799 finally freed those still labouring in bondage. Both these acts contained provisions against organised labour.


...

In 1772 Mansfield's judgement on the Somersett case positively outlawed slavery in England on the grounds that there had never been law permitting slavery in England.

In 1775 Scotland passed a law designed to free white Scots from the slavery of the coal mines eventually. It would take another generation and another law in 1799 before the 1606 law that pushed them into the pits was repealed and the last of the miners was fully freed.

In 1776 Dundas, along with others, took up the Knight case before Lord Kames whose court found:

"That the state of slavery is not recognised by the laws of this kingdom, and is inconsistent with the principles thereof: and found that the regulations in Jamaica, concerning slaves, do not extend to this kingdom; and repelled the defender's claim to perpetual service".


....

Dundas took up Wilberforce's bill in 1792, seven years before the last of the Scottish slaves were freed in Scotland.


He worked to achieve what he could, as he could, given his time and place.

...

History should note that all of these enlightened declarations of freedom, abolition and anti-slavery in the mother-countries of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, (England, Wales and Scotland) are coincidental with the American colonies demanding their freedom from the United Kingdom's laws and parliament.
 
Egerton Ryerson

Lynn McDonald: The historical record vindicates Egerton Ryerson​

The university has failed utterly to acquaint students with who Egerton Ryerson was and what he did that was so positive for Indigenous peoples
Author of the article:
Lynn McDonald, Special to Financial Post
Published Sep 09, 2021 • Last updated Sep 09, 2021 • 4 minute read

Lynn McDonald is professor emerita at the University of Guelph, a former MP and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
37 Comments
A statue of Egerton Ryerson at the Ryerson University Campus in downtown Toronto.
A statue of Egerton Ryerson at the Ryerson University Campus in downtown Toronto. PHOTO BY ERNEST DOROSZUK/TORONTO SUN/POSTMEDIA NETWORK FILES

Last month, the Board of Governors of Ryerson University announced that the university would be dropping the name Ryerson. It was acting on the apparently unanimous recommendation of a task force commissioned in December 2020 to hold hearings, collect materials and report on the life and influence of Egerton Ryerson, after whom the university was named. The task force did all of those things, although it seems at least some of its members may already have made up their minds. When an on-campus statue of Egerton Ryerson was vandalized and removed part way through the life of the task force, its co-chairs issued a statement saying there might be regrets among those who wanted the statue removed that they could not be there when it was toppled, hardly a neutral statement.

Along with much bafflegab about principles of commemoration, the task force report did include some positive comments about Ryerson and his relationship with the Ojibway. But it highlighted ten comments by “community members,” not one of which was positive and some of which made unfounded accusations. Most attested to pain, such as: “We cannot continue to celebrate Ryerson in the faces of those who are wounded.” The university’s leaders should have addressed those hurts but did not.

Although the task force conceded that Ryerson was not “the architect” of the residential school system, it repeated other accusations against him as if they were true. Yet — something that should be of crucial interest in a university — a long record of scholarly publications about Ryerson by serious researchers, extending from 1937 to 2021, yields no evidence to implicate him. These include a two-volume Life and Letters (by C.B. Sissons, 1937, 1947), a one-volume biography (Clara Thomas, 1969), a biography of Ryerson’s closest Ojibway friend (Donald Smith, 1988), a book on his connections with the Mississaugas (Donald Smith, 2013), plus a history of residential schools (Jim Miller, 1996). A substantial master’s thesis and two papers based on it reported on the voluntary, bilingual schools that Ryerson did support, which involved no forcible taking away of children from their parents (Hope MacLean, 1978, 2002 and 2005). MacLean concluded: “How different the whole history of Native education in Canada might have been if that experiment had continued.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which reported in 2015, did not blame Ryerson for the residential schools; nor did its chair, Murray Sinclair, when he gave the Faculty Lecture at Ryerson a year later. But the accusations against Ryerson are now both widespread in social media and uncritically repeated in television and newspaper accounts.

In January 2018, Ryerson University leaders had attempted to mollify students about the statue of Ryerson then still standing on the edge of the campus by placing a plaque next to it. This would, it was said, “contextualize his role in the creation of Canada’s residential school system, which was devastating to Indigenous peoples in Canada.” Yet the plaque repeated the accusations as if they were true.

In a university, academic standards and respect for primary sources should be paramount. But they have been missing from action throughout these discussions at Ryerson. The residential school system instituted by the Canadian government in 1883 bears no resemblance to the schools Egerton Ryerson supported in the 1840s and 1850s. Nor could he have fought its introduction: he died in 1882. Moreover, its worst aspects came much later: making attendance mandatory, in 1920, and giving over guardianship of the children to the principals of the schools from their parents.

The university has failed utterly to acquaint its students with who Egerton Ryerson was and what he did that was so positive for Indigenous peoples. Nor has it addressed the distress described by Indigenous students evidently persuaded by false information that he was responsible for the school system that causes them such pain.

There is a great desire for “reconciliation” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, but it can’t happen without truth, which requires looking at facts. Yet facts are hard things to come by these days. Academics who do not accept the quasi-official narrative about Ryerson are terrified to speak out, especially the untenured, short-term instructors of which Ryerson has many.

It is therefore not surprising that many Ryerson students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are not aware that Egerton Ryerson:

• lived with Ojibway people and learned to speak Ojibway

• assisted them with economic development, sharing his own farming skills (he was a farm boy) once they had decided that farming was their way to a decent life, given that they had lost much of their land and fishing grounds

• actively supported their land claims

• promoted the careers of Ojibway leaders who were both Methodist ministers, as he was, and elected chiefs

• nominated one leader, Sacred Feathers, to be the Western superintendent of Indian Affairs in Canada West (Ontario). Yes, an Indigenous person was to be in charge of the area!

If the Indigenous students, staff and faculty at the university knew what Ryerson had done for and with the Ojibway of his time, they could have walked past the statue of him with a smile and a wave, grateful that at least he had supported them when so few others did.


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We tend to see things in binary terms these days.

French are Catholics and Anglos are Protestants.

In Ryerson's day he and William Lyon Mackenzie and George Brown saw things differently.

They were anti-establishment protestants. That is to say that because they didn't go to the state church, the established church, then they couldn't hold public office and they couldn't run their own schools. They were treated exactly like Catholics in England and Scotland. In Upper Canada they were in worse circumstances than the Catholics in Quebec. The Quebecers had been granted better terms by their Scottish military governor in 1763 and by the UK parliament in 1774. That was another reason why the Americans rebelled. The Quebec Catholic's lot was better than the lot of Scots in Ireland and America. The Scots belonged to the established church. But the wrong established church. The Church of Scotland was only recognized in Scotland. Scottish ministers weren't recognized outside of Scotland and Scottish Presbyterians, like Quakers like William Penn and Methodists like Egerton Ryerson couldn't hold public office.

The Scots in America that had already left Ireland because of the established church, along with English Presbyterians, Methodists Quakers et all, the rest of the non-conforming dissenters were adamant that their new country would have no established church. First Amendment time.

When the establishment types lost that discussion in America they headed north to Ontario and the Maritimes. And reimposed their established practices. Which left Ryerson et al on the outside looking in.

....

One of the great points of contention was education. The establishment has always wanted to control the schools, the doctrines and dogmas of society. The Church of England and the Church of Scotland both had long standing conflicts with the Church of Rome. They also were at odds with the free thinking, non-conformists dissenters - specifically people like Ryerson's Methodists.

But times were changing in Britain - driven by the French tendency to knock off aristocratic heads. The British establishment already had some enlightened tendencies. The French example got even conservatives rethinking their opposition to reform. One of the great reforms was the introduction of a new edcuation system that catered to working classes, both men and women, teaching them STEM subjects to make them better mechanics, operators and engineers. That system of education revolved around the Mechanics Institutes established by George Birkbeck. In Toronto Ryerson and his Methodists gathered in the Mechanics Institute which was a hotbed of reformers. That was where the Upper Canada revolt of 1837 was hatched.

Ryerson was a firm believer that education was the key to progress. And that it should be open to all, regardless of their class, the church they attended, or their race.
 
Ryerson started out as a farmer. But he believed that his calling was as a missionary so he started as an itinerant preacher in North Toronto (York region). Put miles on his horse travelling from hamlet to settlement preaching in a different location every day. His travels brought him into contact with a band of indigenous folks on the Credit who were living in appalling conditions as their hunting grounds had been ruined by the influx of Europeans and they had no other means of making a living. Ryerson went back to his mission board and asked permission to establish himself with this group which they approved and he did. Set up training for them in husbandry, urban sanitation etc. Spent several years with them, learnt their language of course, and was made an honourable member of the tribe. Never established residential schools at all. In fact most of his work was in establishing the ONTARIO school system which, when established was the most forward thinking in Canada. But he too has been blackballed as being whitel
 
Another one from Lynn McDonald

I hope McDonald and the National Post will forgive this usurping of their copyright in the interest of spreading the word.

Lynn McDonald: Britain should be given credit for ending the transatlantic slave trade​

That the major leaders of the abolition movement were British is an inconvenient truth for many people today
Author of the article:
Lynn McDonald, Special to National Post
Published Feb 20, 2024 • Last updated 3 hours ago • 4 minute read

145 Comments

An artist's depiction of a Royal Navy vessel battling a foreign slaver ship.
An artist's depiction of a Royal Navy vessel battling a foreign slaver ship.

While slavery existed for eons on every populated continent, it was, after years of campaigning, finally abolished. People nowadays simply do not realize how long it took, or that the slave trade was carried on for decades after abolition laws were adopted. It was evidently so lucrative that slave traders simply ignored the law.

That the major leaders of the abolition movement were British is an inconvenient truth for many people today, who are bent on denouncing “colonizers.” Of course, the British had a lot to make up for.

It was the second European country to go into the trans-Atlantic slave trade, in the 1570s, after Portugal a century earlier. Britain controlled some 26 per cent of the trans-Atlantic trade, after Portugal’s 40 per cent.

Britain is estimated to have sent more than three-million Africans across the Atlantic into slavery, of whom 2.7 million survived. But it was also the country that changed course, and led the world in abolishing slavery elsewhere.

Another inconvenient truth for today’s secular society is that the major abolition leaders were motivated by their Christian faith.

Quakers led the way, holding that slavery was wrong and against God’s will: we are supposed to love our neighbour and do unto others as we would wish they did unto us, and who would want to be a slave? The Quakers, however, held no political power, not even the vote, as non-members of the Church of England. Yet they did circulate petitions and speak out against slavery.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, published his “Thoughts upon Slavery” in 1774, and in 1788, preached against it in Bristol, a major slave-trading port. He encouraged the (evangelical) William Wilberforce to take up the issue, and he led the push for abolition in Parliament.

Thomas Clarkson, a top abolition leader, when he was a student at Cambridge, had planned to become a clergyman, but after he won an essay contest on slavery, he decided to devote his life to working for abolition. He did research, published books and pamphlets, and travelled the country to win people over to the cause.

A third inconvenient truth might be seen in the inordinate time it took to abolish slavery and the slave trade in practice: passing a law against it in 1807 did not end the practice — too many people carried on, as there was money to be made and no penalty for breaking the law. It took an array of further laws, such as making it a crime to engage in the trade. Another law criminalized making profits from it.

In 1819, 12 years after the adoption of the law banning the trade, the British government set up a whole new sub-department in the Foreign Office, to persuade other countries to ban the trade, as well. It started small, but in time had the largest budget of any in the Foreign Office. It was not disbanded until 1882.

Yet many in Toronto, as in Edinburgh, blame Henry Dundas for delaying abolition by adding the word “gradual” into Wilberforce’s 1792 motion. Dundas argued strenuously for the need to gain the co-operation of the plantation owners. He talked with those he could and found that some were open to the idea.

Lord Palmerston, as foreign secretary, worked hard on getting other countries to join in abolition. The year before he died, he said the achievement that gave him “the greatest and purest pleasure was forcing the Brazilians to give up their slave trade,” through the passage of the Slave Trade (Portugal) Act in 1839. But Brazil kept up the slave trade until 1888.

Even Dundas, who had a much more realistic idea than Wilberforce and his supporters on what it would take to abolish the slave trade, had no idea that decades would be needed for the dream to be fully realized.

So why does Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow still rate what Dundas did as “horrific”? Wilberforce himself, and his cohort, in time went over to the “gradual” position of Dundas. In 1823, they formed the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions.

When slavery itself was finally abolished in the British Empire, in 1834, the British Treasury had to compensate existing slave owners. The government had to take out a major loan, equivalent to 40 per cent of the national budget for that year. Unseemly as this was — the former slaves were paid nothing — emancipation would not have happened without it.

This is not to excuse the terrible brutality of Britain’s conquests around the world. It is to say that when a country changes course, and for decades devotes its resources to doing the right thing, we should give it credit.

National Post

Lynn McDonald is a former member of Parliament and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

This -
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, published his “Thoughts upon Slavery” in 1774, and in 1788, preached against it in Bristol, a major slave-trading port. He encouraged the (evangelical) William Wilberforce to take up the issue, and he led the push for abolition in Parliament.

A couple of thoughts

Notions on abolition of slavery predated Thoughts upon Slavery.

Today Georgia is considered as a Deep South state of the Confederacy and tied to the institution of slavery. Curiously Georgia was founded by a radical liberal as a utopian colony that didn't permit slavery. It was founded by James Oglethorpe in 1733. John and Charles Wesley were recruited as ministers for his new colony. This all aligned with the Great Awakening - often styled as a religious movement but just as importantly a political and cultural movement.






Blacks in methodist congregations in Georgia being taught to read the bible....

Georgia only became a slave state after Oglethorpe returned to England.
 
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