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Did I ruffle some British feathers with slavery remark?

Ned Jilton II • Jan 10, 2019 at 3:28 PM

I was watching a review of a video on the American Revolution shown on YouTube recently. The commentary by the person doing the review and the editing of the video placed a little extra emphasis on slavery in the colonies while lessening the poor treatment of slaves by the British.

In the comment section under the video I posted, “The thing to remember is that the British had slavery as well, and it was the British that brought slavery to the colonies in the first place.”

It wasn’t long before replies were being posted.

“I like all the insecure Americans trying to defend U.S.A. in this thing,” said the first reply, which was quickly followed by another post which read, “Let’s pretend that Britain wasn’t the first country to outlaw slavery and forced other countries to do the same.”

Do you get the feeling I may have ruffled a few British feathers?

A little later, another reply of a different nature was posted.

“Native Americans made slaves of other Native Americans way before any European set foot on the entire continent.”

So, after a day or two, I composed a new post.

“It is true that Native Americans made slaves of other Native Americans. But it was more of a spoils-of-war situation,” I started. “It was the European powers, mainly England, Spain and Portugal, that brought slavery as an industry to the American continent.

“The British profited greatly from slavery for several hundred years before it was abolished in England proper in 1807 and throughout the British Empire by 1833, with exceptions provided for the East India Company and Ceylon until 1843,” I wrote.

“However, from the time the United States declared independence from England in 1776 until slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865 is only 89 years,” I said and then added, “Furthermore, England provided Enfield and Whitworth rifles to the slave-holding states during the U.S. Civil War of 1861-1865.

“Mexico did away with slavery even quicker, winning independence from Spain in 1821 and abolishing slavery in 1829. That’s a span of only eight years,” I wrote.

“Then there’s Canada,” I continued, “England brought slavery to Canada same as to the United States. But, lucky for Canada, the British abolished slavery in its territories before Canada became independent, so they never, to my knowledge, had slavery as an independent country. Only as a territory.”

Then I ended my very long post with, “But let’s be fair. Slavery is a stain all nations must bear to some extent. Even today the practice still exists.”

There have been no replies to the new post yet. It will be interesting to see what kind of response I get. Hopefully there will be some interesting discussion, maybe from my British “friends.”


From time to time, beginning with this column, I will list events being presented by various historic sites or groups in our area to give you the chance to learn about, and enjoy, history firsthand.

On Monday, the Tri Cities Civil War Round Table will present the program “Lighting Strikes at Chickamauga: Wilder’s Mounted Infantry Brigade,” featuring James Ogden, chief historian at Chickamauga/ Chattanooga National Military Park. The event will begin at 7 p.m. in Room 219 at the Eastman Employee Center.

Ned Jilton II is a page designer and photographer for the Times News as well as the writer of the “Marching with the 19th” Civil War series. You can contact him at [email protected] .

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