Sunday, October 10, 2021

Western Intellectualism and Western Slavery

In the Age of Imperialism, Western intellectualism and Western slavery marched hand in hand. Most European writers of this period have defended slavery and colonization in their writings because they benefitted from such enterprises. Edward Gibbon could devote his life to working on his history of the Roman Empire, published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788, because his grandfather (also called Edward Gibbon) had amassed a great fortune as the director of the South Sea Company, whose chief occupation was to supply African slaves to the Americas. 

Lewis Carrol, the author of Alice in Wonderland, was the great-grandson of a notorious slave trader. The father of the French writer François-René de Chateaubriand was a slave trader and had also served as the captain of a slave ship. John Locke, the so-called philosopher of liberty and man’s rights, was a major shareholder in the Royal African Company, which was shipping thousands of slaves every year to the Americas in ships which were so overcrowded that about 20 percent of the slaves died during the Atlantic crossing. The company’s initials, RAC, would be branded with hot iron on the breasts of the slaves who were transported on its ships.

John Brown, the founder of Brown University in Rhode Island, made his fortune in slave trade. The Rhodes scholarship was established in Oxford University by Cecil Rhodes, the vulgar imperialist who saw all Africans as barbarians and who made a great fortune by plundering gold and diamonds from South African mines. Rhodes was the architect of the Natives Land Act, 1913, which drastically limited the areas where the natives could be settled. Yale College was funded by a grant from Elihu Yale, the corrupt governor of the East India Company.

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