This is the image I set at the top of my post on the Underground Railroad. It has not been possible for me to publish the entire post. The Block Editor caused severe difficulties.
The abolition of slavery in British Colonies would not be enacted until 1833, but for some forty to sixty years Black slaves were freed the moment they arrived in Canada because of the Act Against Slavery. William Grisely had told John Graves Simcoe, the lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, that he had seen Adam Vrooman force Chloe Cooley into a boat that would cross the Niagara River to the United States and sell her. Chloe so resisted Vrooman that he had to call for help to tie her to the ship. John Graves Simcoe also received a petition. On 9 July 1793, Colonel Simcoe’s legislative assembly passed the Act Against Slavery. The abolition of slavery in the British empire took place in 1833, and Abraham Lincoln did not sign the Emancipation Proclamation until 22 September 1862, but after passage of the Act Against Slavery, the Blacks were free the moment they stepped on Canadian soil, Upper Canada.
The War of 1812
This story is manifold. It tells how much Richard Pierpoint contributed to the War of 1812 and how little he was given in compensation. The Act Against Slavery did not abolish racism. Richard Pierpoint created the Coloured Corps. However, White veterans got twice the land he received. Pierpoint had asked to be allowed to return to Africa. They wouldn’t help. This post also tells about the Amerindians’ contribution. They were free until Canadian Confederation, which is a very long time: from 1534 to 1867.
Amerindians & the Blacks
As you have noticed, in North America slaves were the Indigenous people and the Blacks brought to the North American continent during the Atlantic Slave Trade. Next we meet Harriet Tubman and other abolitionists.
We have seen that the slaves in Nouvelle-France were mostly the Indigenous people of North America who themselves had slaves. Slavery between Amerindians is humiliating, but it is not racism. Amerindian nations fought one another and the better warrior enslaved rival and lesser warriors. For the purpose of this post, suffice it to know that as France grew more vulnerable. France was outnumbered. After losing the battle of the Plains of Abraham, thus named because the land where the battle was fought belonged to fisherman Abraham Martin, Montreal capitulated, but its native allies were no longer protected. (See The Capitulation of Montreal, Canadian Encyclopedia.) In fact, they were at the mercy of the inhabitants of Britain’s Thirteen Colonies. They feared a land rushes, but Chief Pontiac, an Ottawa leader, fought the Thirteen Colonies quite successfully, which he could not do indefinitely.
No authentic images of Pontiac are known to exist. This interpretation was painted by John Mix Stanley. (Photo and Caption Credit: Wikipedia)
To protect Amerindians, England issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763, providing Aboriginals with a vast reserve. The territory was large and nearly impenetrable. Later, the Act of Quebec (1774) ended attempts to assimilate the former New France. A very large province of Quebec was created, which, in the eyes of American patriots, was an Intolerable Act.
The Thirteen Colonies
Upper and Lower Canadas
The light pink shows the land where the Indigenous population of Canada could live without fear of losing their land. In 1775, Louisiana belonged to Spain. In the second map, we see Quebec as it was in 1791, under the Constitutional Act. We also see part of Rupert’s Land.
United Empire Loyalists: the Constitutional Act of 1791
shift in demographics
White loyalists and Black loyalists
However, among Americans, some families and individuals did not approve of independence. They fled to the large British province of Quebec. To help United Empire Loyalists, the large Quebec was divided into two Canadas: Upper Canada and, lower down the St Lawrence, Lower Canada. The Constitutional Act, which divided the Province of Quebec, was legislated in 1791.
The Constitutional Act did not divide the province of Quebec into an English-language Upper Canada and a French-language Lower Canada. The Eastern Townships, the area of Quebec where I live, was given to the Loyalists and their slaves, whom they were allowed to bring to Canada as part of their property. The Loyalists also settled in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The arrival of the Loyalists was a blessing and a curse. The future Canada welcomed the Loyalists, Whites and Blacks. However, the citizens of the former New France were a minority.
There were Black loyalists who had earned their freedom by fighting with Britain against the future United States had earned their freedom. They settled in Ontario and New Brunswick, but most tried to settle in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia would be Black slaves’ best destination. Although the Imperial Act of 1790 assured slave owners that they could retain Black slaves, in 1788, Nova Scotia abolitionist James Drummond MacGregor from Pictou “published the first anti-slavery literature in Canada and began purchasing slaves’ freedom” (…). He set an example. Many Nova Scotia Loyalists freed their slaves. (See Slavery in Canada, Wikipedia.)
However, a total of 3,500 Black Loyalists left the current United States. Nova Scotia would be home to many, were it not that white Loyalists attacked Black Loyalists. The Shelburne Riots that took place in July 1784 revealed racism. White Loyalists were given the best land, which they felt entitled to as White Loyalists. So, in 1792, 1300 Black loyalists left for Sierra Leone, where they would be free and would govern themselves.
Until recent reforms in immigration, about 37% of Canada’s Black community lived in Nova Scotia.
The Act Against Slavery, 1793 (Wikipedia)
Vrooman vs Cooley
Ontario slave owners opposed the enfranchisement of Black slaves. In Ontario the case of Chloe Cooley, is a sad example of entitlement. Chloe tried to escape an abusive owner, Sergeant Adam Vrooman. He had bound her in a boat in an attempt to take her to the State of New York, to sell her. She protested violently and the event, witnessed by William Grisley, led to the passage of the Act Against Slavery of 1793. On 14 March 1793, The event was reported to Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. However, Vrooman had not broken the law. Loyalists could bring their slaves to British North America. He also noted that in 1760, the French inhabitants of Lower Canada had been allowed to keep their slaves. Yet, despite the reluctance of the several representatives of the government of Upper Canada, the Act Against Slavery of 1793 was legislated.
Let us read the letter Sergeant Vrooman wrote to the authorities. He used the law to perpetuate an abuse. In this respect, his letter is a classic:
[…] been informed that an information had been lodged against him to the Attorney General relative to his proceedings in his Sale of said Negroe Woman; your Petitioner had received no information concerning the freedom of Slaves in this Province, except a report which prevailed among themselves, and if he has transgressed against the Laws of his Country by disposing of Property (which from the legality of the purchase from Benjamin Hardison) he naturally supposed to be his own, it was done without knowledge of any Law being in force to the contrary.
(See Chloe Cooley and the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada. The Canadian Encyclopedia.)
Laws can be used to wrong a human being. In this respect, the fate of Chloe Clooney is a classic. In the eyes of slave-owning Loyalists, ownership had no limits. If so, what a nightmare for a woman.
The arrival of the Loyalists led to the Constitutional Act of 1791, which separated a large Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada. French-speaking Canadiens lived in Lower Canada, part of which was the Eastern Townships, given to Loyalists. I cannot make sense of the Constitutional Act of 1871. It received royal assent in June 1791 and it seems an attempt to assimilate French-speaking Canadians.
The Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada received royal assent on 9 July 1793, but in Upper Canada, slavery was not abolished until 1833. However, the Underground Railroad, helped slaves flee to Canada. United Empire Loyalists had taken their slaves with them, as property. But Blacks that escaped were no longer owned.
I will conclude here. We must introduce the Underground Railroad, an organization that helped Black Slaves flee to Canada. I am reading The Slave in Canada by William Renwick Riddell. It is an Internet Archive publication. I have looked for videos and saw one about the Royal Proclamation of 1763. It features a rush for land which is called freedom. It is as though the proclamation deprived the colonists of their freedom. Does freedom allow human beings to displace and destroy other human beings? An Aboriginal was not seen as a person, nor was a mortal whose colour was not white. I must close.
_______________ “Under the terms of the Constitutional Act of 1791, the Eastern Townships were open to settlement and a land rush followed. Most of the 3,000 or so settlers came from the United States. A few were Loyalists, at least in spirit, but most simply wanted land and had no strong feeling about nationality. Many more immigrated from the British Isles, including Gaelic-speaking Scots.” (See Eastern Townships, Wikipedia)
I agree with Pope Francis that “it should not be up to a single nation to decide how to intervene in the conflict.” The following is the Pope’s complete statement:
“18 August: Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, said that the international community would be justified in stopping Islamist militants in Iraq. He also said that it should not be up to a single nation to decide how to intervene in the conflict.” (See Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia.)
The killer, or one of the killers, has a British accent. It appears he is a Londoner. David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, is therefore taking matters very seriously. It seems the alleged executioner, or one of the alleged executioners, has been identified, but revealing his identity before he is in custody would be a breach of security.
Mr. Foley’s killer(s) will be brought to justice. I should note that since Barack Obama became President of the United States, the United States has seldom had better allies.
I hope that no single nation retaliate. Terrorism is not a nation. It could be the terrorists might enjoy generating a war. The US and its allies have élite commandos they can deploy. That’s how Bin Laden was found and killed. The terrorists must, of course, release the journalists they have captured.
Also tragic and disturbing is the shooting death of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri. The matter is still under investigation, which prevents conclusive statements. (See Shooting of Michael Brown, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia.)
Racism, if it was racism, can be curbed considerably through proper education. We underestimate the role of good teachers in this regard.
I extend my condolences to James Foley’s family and friends and wish to tell them how sorry I am for their loss. Nothing is more painful than the death of a child, whatever his or her age.
I also extend my sincere condolences to Michael Brown’s family and friends.
Quakers played an important role in the abolition of slavery. One of their leaders was French-born American Anthony Benezet (Antoine Bénézet). However, the Age of Enlightenment saw a rebirth of Freemasonry whose members took very seriously what would become the motto of France: liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, brotherhood [fraternity]).
Prince Hall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
However, African-Americans could not join Masonry, except that Prince Hall (1735 – 1807) was allowed to establish Prince Hall Masonry during the eighteenth century. Yet, Freemasonry played an important role in the abolition of slavery, but it should be noted that although Freemasonry flourished during the Age of Enlightenment (the 17th and 18th centuries), Masonic Lodges did not and do not always consider other Lodges as “regular.” For instance, one condition of membership is a belief in a supreme being and scripture. Given this condition, current French Masonic lodges are not considered legitimate.[ii] (See Freemasonry, Wikipedia)
However, as mentioned above, eighteenth-century Masonry shared the ideals of abolitionism. For instance, John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu KG, KB, PC (1690 – 5 July 1749, made sure Ignatius Sancho was educated, and the Montagu family always protected Sancho. John Montagu was a Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England. Montagu family always protected Sancho. John Montagu was a Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England. Moreover, Blacks and mulattoes[iii] have been active abolitionists and Freemasons, including Joseph Boulogne, chevalier de Saint-George, the “Black Mozart,” Europe’s finest swordsman, not to mention an accomplished equestrian.
The struggle to abolish slavery is linked with the Enlightenment which subjugated tradition to the ruleof reason and promoted tolerance. Yet, a large number of French slave owners were cruel.
Joseph Boulogne, chevalier de Saint-George
Famed mulatto Joseph Boulogne, chevalier de Saint George, (spelled Saint-Georges by Tom Reiss and Gabriel Banat*) the “Black Mozart,” was a Freemason. He was a friend of George IV, a future king of England and a Freemason.
Moreover, Saint-George (c. 1745 – 1799) was the conductor of the largest orchestra of his era, the Loge Olympique, founded by French Freemasons and, among French Freemasons, Joseph Boulogne, the “Black Mozart” himself.
In fact, Joseph Boulogne, was “the first person of African descent to join a Masonic Lodge in France. He was initiated in Paris to ‘Les 9 Sœurs,’ [The 9 Sisters] a Lodge belonging to the Grand Orient of France.” (See The Chevalier de Saint-George, Wikipedia.) He premiered, as conductor, Joseph Haydn’s “Paris Symphonies” at the Loge Olympique. Coincidentally, Joseph Haydn (31 March 1732 – 31 May 1809) was also a Freemason, as was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Moreover, in 1791, Joseph Boulogne (c. 1745 – 1799) was appointed colonel of the the “Black Legion,” or Légion franche des Américains et du Midi. The “Black Legion,” or Saint-George Legion, was comprised mainly of men of color with 800 infantry and 200 cavalry personnel. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, who was trained as a fencer by Joseph Boulogne at La Boëssière‘s Academy, would be Joseph Boulogne’s second-in-command. For more information, please click on Joseph Boulogne.
As for Thomas-Alexandre, Alexandre Dumas père‘s father, nicknamed “le diable noir” (the “Black Devil”), he joined the Queen’s Dragoons as a mere private and under the name (nom de guerre) Alexandre Dumas in 1786. I believe he was a Freemason but cannot confirm that he was.
In 1775, Antoine sold the four children born to him and Marie-Cessette Dumas to pay for his return trip to France. The children were probably sold à réméré, or “conditionally, with the right of redemption” (Reiss’ wording, p. 55), but Thomas-Alexandre is the only one of the four children Antoine redeemed. According to Alexandre Dumas, père, the author of The Count of Monte-Cristo and The Three Musketeers, his grandmother, Marie-Cessette, died of dysentery in 1772. (See Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, Wikipedia.)
Haitian Revolution, Battle of Vertières (18 November 1803) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Toussaint Bréda, probably born on All Saint’s Day, la Toussaint, had been a free man of color since 1776 or 1777 and he owned property in Saint-Domingue. Initially, Toussaint was an ally of the Spaniards in Santo Dominguo, but he changed allegiance when France abolished slavery under Robespierre on 4 February 1794. Toussaint Bréda, who became Toussaint Louverture or L’Ouverture (the opening), during the Haitian Revolution, was of African descent. He was not a mulatto. He spoke French and French créole, but did not acquire a good knowledge of written French.
By 1801, Haiti was unofficially free. However, Napoleon sent his brother-in-law Charles Leclercto the island. Toussaint was betrayed, arrested and deported to France, where he was imprisoned, at Fort-de-Joux, and died in 1803.
Before leaving Saint-Domingue, Toussaint said, prophetically:
“In overthrowing me you have cut down in Saint Domingue only the trunk of the tree of liberty; it will spring up again from the roots, for they are many and they are deep.” (See Toussaint Louverture, Wikipedia.)
On 18 November 1803, during the “second” Haitian Revolution, Jean-Jacques Dessalines defeated General de Rochambeau at the Battle of Vertières. Napoleon’s army had been weakened. It had lost two-thirds of its men to yellow fever. Haiti was proclaimed the Republic of Haiti on 1 January 1804. Dessalines named himself Emperor. The Haitian Revolution has been associated with the French Revolution. Authority was being questioned, which entailed enslavement.
Free Women of Color with their Children and Servants, oil painting by Agostino Brunias, Dominica, c. 1764-1796 (Photo and caption credit: Wikipedia)
The Enlightenment: liberté, égalité, fraternité
The objectives of Freemasonry were in fact the objectives of the Enlightenment. As I mentioned above, they are summed up by the French motto: liberté, égalité,fraternité. Tom Reiss writes that
French Enlightenment philosophers liked to use slavery as a symbol of human, and particularly political oppression. ‘Man is born free but is everywhere in chains,’ wrote Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the The SocialContract in 1762. (p. 60)
But to be more precise, eighteenth-century Freemasonry recognized an aristocracy of the mind rather than an accidental aristocracy, i.e. a mere accident of birth. However, aristocrats and American Presidents, beginning with George Washington, wasted no time in applying for membership in an aristocracy above aristocracy. They joined composers such as Joseph Haydn and the “White Mozart,” the composer of the all-but-MasonicZauberflöte (K. 620) (The Magic Flute). (See The Magic Flute, Wikipedia)
In other words, eighteenth-century Freemasonry sought equality for both the “White Mozart,” who could never have married an aristocrat, and the “Black Mozart,” who could never have married a white woman. Freemasonry played an important role in the abolition of Slavery, but so did other elements and other groups, such as France’s Société des amis des Noirs (the Society of the Friends of the Blacks), the salons, cafés, etc.
However, I would agree with Mozart biographer Maynard Solomon (born January 5, 1930) who writes that “Mozart’s position within the Masonic movement … lay with the rationalist, Enlightenment-inspired membership, as opposed to those members oriented toward mysticism and the occult.” (See Mozart, Early Life, Wikipedia.)
French Colonialism: The Code Noir
However, despite a number of massacres, French colonialism was less harsh on slaves than colonialism in other parts of the world. The Code Noir, promulgated in 1685 by Louis XIV, prohibited the abuse of slaves. In 1691, records of an incident read as follows:
“‘The King has been informed that two negroes from Martinique crossed on the ship the Oiseau,’ reads the laconic record of the incident in the Royal Naval Ministry. ‘[His Majesty] has not judged it apropos to return them to the isles, their liberty being acquired by the laws of the kingdom concerning slaves, as soon as they touch the Soil.’ The slaves were free.” (Reiss, pp. 61-62)
Would that Louis had acted as magnanimously with respect to the Huguenots, French Calvinist protestants. He didn’t. The Edict of Nantes, an edict of tolerance issued on 13 April 1598, was revoked in 1685. They were brutally persecuted.
In short, I can’t help thinking that the lumièresthemselves (Voltaire, Diderot, both of whom were Freemasons, and other major figures associated with the French Enlightenment) shuddered in their grave when the guillotine severed the head of Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and scientist Antoine Lavoisier. The French Revolution went way too far.
Carmontelle‘s watercolour (1763) of Leopold Mozart with Wolfgang Amadeus and Maria Anna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Slave hanging from his ribs, by William Blake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ignatius Sancho (c. 1729 – 14 December 1780), a Black slave, lived in Britain at the height of the debate on antislavery and he left a testimonial, letters mainly, of the struggle to end an ignominy. Sancho was a man of colour, but antislavery motivated many members of the White race to gather and attempt to eradicate the subjugation of coloured human beings. Colour is skin-deep. Many abolitionists were Quakers, which is the case with French-American Anthony Benezet (Antoine Bénézet) and his followers. But the person who helped Sancho, John Montagu, the 2nd Duke of Montagu KG, KB, PC (1690 – 5 July 1749), was a Freemason.
Because it deals with inequality, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality (1754) could be a key document on the topic of abolitionism, except that Rousseau is one of the thinkers who introduced the idea of the Noble Savage.[i]Therefore, having mentioned the Discourse on Inequality, we are crossing the English Channel from France to England, where the antislavery debate was at a climax and would attract American abolitionists, one of whom was the above-mentioned French-born American Anthony Benezet (31 January 1713 – 3 May 1784). (See The Abolition of Slavery.)
Ignatius Sancho, by Thomas Gainsborough, National Gallery of Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Because the publication of Tristram Shandy had been a huge success, our Black British abolitionist Ignatius Sancho wrote to Sterne urging the writer to put his eloquence into the service of abolitionism:
That subject, handled in your striking manner, would ease the yoke (perhaps) of many – but if only one – Gracious God! – what a feast to a benevolent heart!
Laurence Sterne received Sancho’s letter in July 1766, two years before his death. There was little the Reverend Sterne could do at this point in his life. In 1765, Sterne had travelled, in vain, to France and Italy, in search of a climate that would relieve the symptoms of tuberculosis. He died in 1768, two years after receiving and answering Sancho’s letter, but his response to Sancho has survived the test of time and constitutes a witty and powerful statement against slavery. It ridiculed slavery.
“There is a strange coincidence, Sancho, in the little events (as well as in the great ones) of this world: for I had been writing a tender tale of the sorrows of a friendless poor negro-girl, and my eyes had scarce done smarting with it, when your letter of recommendation in behalf of so many of her brethren and sisters, came to me—but why her brethren?—or your’s, Sancho! any more than mine? It is by the finest tints, and most insensible gradations, that nature descends from the fairest face about St. James’s, to the sootiest complexion in Africa: at which tint of these, is it, that the ties of blood are to cease? and how many shades must we descend lower still in the scale, ’ere mercy is to vanish with them?—but ’tis no uncommon thing, my good Sancho, for one half of the world to use the other half of it like brutes, & then endeavor to make ’em so.”
Laurence Sterne, by Louis de Carmontelle, 1762 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Black British abolitionist Ignatius Sancho (c. 1729 – 14 December 1780) was born on the slave ship taking his parents to New Granada, a Spanish colony. Sancho’s mother died when Sancho was in infancy. After Sancho’s mother’s death, his father committed suicide rather than live as a slave. Slaves belonged to their owners. Some owners were good, but too many were brutes. The owner of the slave hanging from his ribs, portrayed by William Blake (above), was a brute and nothing could stop him. He owned the man he was killing mercilessly. Owning a human being can lead to horrific abuse.
The 1730s and 40s
At the age of two, Sancho was sent to England where he worked for three maiden sisters in Greenwich until the 1750s. However, John Montagu, the 2nd Duke of Montagu KG, KB, PC (1690 – 5 July 1749), a Freemason, took an interest in Ignatius, who was a very intelligent child whose personality and manners were truly endearing. John Montagu therefore funded what little formal education Sancho received. The Montagus always helped Sancho.
The 50s and 60s
During the 50s, Sancho spent two happy years working as butler to Mary Montagu (née Churchill). During those two years, he studied music. He would later publish a theory of music and compose. In the 60s, he married a West Indian woman, Ann Osborne. The couple had six children. During that same period he also became a valet to George Montagu, 1st Duke of Montagu, the son-in-law of his former patron and a man of refinement. When he started to work for George Montagu, 1st Duke of Montagu, Thomas Gainsborough made a portrait of Sancho.
The Late 1760s and the 70s
In 1774, with help from the Duke of Montagu and using the remains of an inheritance and the annuity he was receiving from Mary Montagu, Sancho, then suffering from ill-health and gout, opened a green grocery shop offering merchandise such as tobacco, sugar and tea, at 19 Charles Street in London’s Mayfair, Westminster.
It is during this period of his life that Sancho published his Theory of Music and songs. It is also during this period that he became a voter. “As a financially independent male householder living in Westminster, Sancho qualified to vote in the parliamentary elections of 1774 and 1780.” (See Ignatius Sancho, Wikipedia.) During the 1700s, Sancho also contributed letters in newspapers, under his own name and under the pseudonym “Africanus.”
a writer, letters (to Sterne, and to newspapers), plays and a two-volume collection of letters published after his death;
the first black person of African origin known to have voted in Britain;
the first African to be given an obituary in the British press (see above).
According to Wikipedia, Sancho “was unusually blunt in [h]is response to a letter from Jack Wingrave, John Wingrave’s son. Jack wrote about his “negative reaction to people of colour based on his own experience in India during the 1770s.” (See Ignatius Sancho, Wikipedia.) John Wingrave, Jack’s father and Sancho’s friend, was a London bookbinder and bookseller.
“I am sorry to observe that the practice of your country (which as a resident I love – and for its freedom – and for the many blessings I enjoy in it – shall ever have my warmest wishes, prayers and blessings); I say it is with reluctance, that I must observe your country’s conduct has been uniformly wicked in the East – West-Indies – and even on the coast of Guinea. The grand object of English navigators – indeed of all Christian navigators – is money – money – money – for which I do not pretend to blame them – Commerce was meant by the goodness of the Deity to diffuse the various goods of the earth into every part—to unite mankind in the blessed chains of brotherly love – society – and mutual dependence: the enlightened Christian should diffuse the riches of the Gospel of peace – with the commodities of his respective land – Commerce attended with strict honesty – and with Religion for its companion – would be a blessing to every shore it touched at. In Africa, the poor wretched natives blessed with the most fertile and luxuriant soil- are rendered so much the more miserable for what Providence meant as a blessing: the Christians’ abominable traffic for slaves and the horrid cruelty and treachery of the petty Kings encouraged by their Christian customers who carry them strong liquors to enflame their national madness – and powder – and bad fire-arms – to furnish them with the hellish means of killing and kidnapping.” (See Sancho’s View on Empire and Slavery.)
The above letter may be “blunt,” but could it be otherwise? Ignatius Sancho was fighting an evil, perhaps the very worst evil human beings have inflicted on themselves, an evil motivated by greed.
Among American abolitionists was French-born American educator Anthony Benezet, or Antoine Bénézet (31 January 1713 – 3 May 1784). Bénézet’s Calvinist Protestant[ii] family had been persecuted as a result of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
The culmination of the work of British abolitionists, Thomas Clarkson, a Quaker, and others, eventually led to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, in Britain. Certain areas of the British Empire did not free their slaves in 1833, but the motivation to free slaves, a motivation rooted in the Age of Enlightenment, the 18th century, was growing into a moral imperative.
The French Revolution did away with slavery, but it resurfaced and was not eradicated in France until 1848.
The American Civil War and the Abolition of Slavery
However, in America, slavery was not abolished until 1865, under the terms of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US constitution, effective beginning on 18 December 1865. In 1863, when seven states seceded and four more would later join these Slave States. In 1861, they constituted the self-proclaimed Confederacy. Secession from the Union was illegal.
The Civil War began in 1861 when the Confederate States attacked Fort Sumter (12-14 April 1861). It was a Confederate victory. Consequently, four more states joined the Confederacy, now comprising a total of 11 Slave States.
To a large extent, those who opposed the abolition of slavery stood to lose free labor and, in many cases, faced poverty and destitution. It could well be that in the United States opposition to taxation is rooted in a form “exceptionalism” or, perhaps, in a form of reversed entitlement. Many extremist Republicans live in former Slave States and many are as wealthy as their ancestors were in the days of slavery. However, given the loss of nearly free labor, they perhaps wonder why they should pay taxes, thereby contributing to the implementation of social programs that protect everyone, but which they, personally, do not need. They are rich and they can therefore look after themselves. In fact, it is possible for such individuals to view taxes as a form of enslavement.
However, it is also entirely possible for people who benefit from social programs to feel they are entitled to the services provided by the government. That is the prevailing definition of entitlement. They may therefore oppose cuts. In fact, the Quebec students who opposed a slight raise in tuition fee ended up asking the Quebec government to provide them with a free education. In their opinion, they were entitled to a free education. Therefore, when their tuition fees were raised by a very small amount, many felt they had been betrayed by the system.
_________________________[i] Clarkson’s An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African, Translated from a Latin Dissertation which was honoured with the First Prize in the University of Cambridge, in the year 1785, with Additions, is a Gutenberg Project [EBook #10611]
[ii]French Calvinist Protestants were called Huguenots.
[iii] Many abolitionists were Quakers.
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