SOURCE: Thomas Hutchinson Meets Dido Belle

Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray

J. L. Bell of Boston 1775 posts Thomas Hutchinson description of meeting Dido Belle in 1779:

A Black came in after dinner and sat with the ladies, and after coffee, walked with the company in the gardens, one of the young ladies having her arm within the other. She had a very high cap, and her wool was much frizzled in her neck, but not enough to answer the large curls now in fashion. She is neither handsome nor genteel—pert enough. I knew her history before, but my Lord mentioned it again. Sir Jno. Lindsay having taken her mother prisoner in a Spanish vessel, brought her to England, where she was delivered of this girl, of which she was then with child, and which was taken care of by Lord M., and has been educated by his family. He calls her Dido, which I suppose is all the name she has. He knows he has been reproached for shewing a fondness for her—I dare say not criminal.

A few years ago [in 1771-1772] there was a cause before his Lordship bro’t by a Black [James Somerset] for recovery of his liberty. A Jamaica planter being asked what judgment his Ldship would give? “No doubt,” he answered, “he will be set free, for Lord Mansfield keeps a Black in his house which governs him and the whole family.” She is a sort of Superintendent over the dairy, poultry yard, &c., which we visited, and she was called upon by my Lord every minute for this thing and that, and shewed the greatest attention to everything he said.

I took occasion to mention that all the Americans who had brought Blacks had, as far as I knew, relinquished their property in them, and rather agreed to give them wages, or suffered them to go free. His Ldship remarked that there had been no determination that they were free, the judgment (meaning the case of Somerset) went no further than to determine the Master had no right to compel the slave to go into a foreign country, &c. I wished to have entered into a free colloquium, and to have discovered, if I am capable of it, the nice distinctions he mast have had in his mind, and which would not make it equally reasonable to restrain the Master from exercising any power whatever, as the power of sending the servant abroad; but I imagined such an altercation would rather be disliked, and forbore.

Read the rest – Boston 1775: Thomas Hutchinson Meets Dido Belle.

EDITED: Fradera and Schmidt-Nowara on Slavery in Spain’s Atlantic Empire

SLAVERY AND ANTISLAVERY IN SPAIN'S ATLANTIC EMPIRE

Josep Maria Fradera and Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, eds. Slavery and Antislavery in Spain’s Atlantic Empire. New York: Berghahn Books, 2013.

via Berghahn Books:

African slavery was pervasive in Spain’s Atlantic empire yet remained in the margins of the imperial economy until the end of the eighteenth century when the plantation revolution in the Caribbean colonies put the slave traffic and the plantation at the center of colonial exploitation and conflict. The international group of scholars brought together in this volume explain Spain’s role as a colonial pioneer in the Atlantic world and its latecomer status as a slave-trading, plantation-based empire. These contributors map the broad contours and transformations of slave-trafficking, the plantation, and antislavery in the Hispanic Atlantic while also delving into specific topics that include: the institutional and economic foundations of colonial slavery; the law and religion; the influences of the Haitian Revolution and British abolitionism; antislavery and proslavery movements in Spain; race and citizenship; and the business of the illegal slave trade.

TODAY: 8th Journée Nationale des Mémoires de la Traite, de l’Esclavage et de Leurs Abolitions

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May 10, 2013 is France’s national day of remembrance of the slave trade, slavery and their abolition.

via Comité pour la Mémoire et l’Histoire de l’Esclavage:

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ARTICLE/CONF: Cleall Reviews 2012 Legacies of British Slave-Ownership Conference at University College of London

Esmé R. Cleall. “Emancipation, Slave-Ownership and the Remaking of The British Imperial World, University College London, 29–31 March 2012.” History Workshop Journal 75, no. 1 (April 1, 2013): 307–310.

Excerpt:

This conference came out of the ESRC-funded Legacies of British Slave-Ownership Project (LBS) at University College London. Since April 2009 the LBS group has been investigating the legacies of British slavery, and in particular, the afterlife of the £20 million paid to slave-owners in compensation for the loss of their ‘property’ on the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833. Nick Draper has been exploring the financial and economic legacies of the £20 million, including its reinvestment in the railways and the financial City of London. Catherine Hall has been tracing the cultural memory of slave-ownership and the rewriting of histories of Britain’s involvement in slavery over the course of the nineteenth century, particularly in the writings of the descendants of slave-owners. Keith McClelland has been tracing the political legacies of the slave-owners, including the enduring power of those who had received compensation money in the British Parliament, their representation of themselves as victims of abolition, the rewriting of their history to align themselves with anti-slavery and their search for new forms of labour and work discipline. With Rachel Lang and Ben Mechan the group have also constructed an online public database of slave-owners at the point of abolition; held six public-engagement workshops across Britain to bring together academic, community and family historians of slavery; and curated an exhibition on the ‘Slave-owners of Bloomsbury’. Katie Donnington’s forthcoming PhD on the Hibbert Family is also a valuable part of this project as is the Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership, based on the group’s findings, which will be published shortly. The conference was thoughtfully constructed to share, discuss and extend some of the core questions raised by the LBS research group – What was the character of the British imperial state? What happened to the planters and slave economy after slavery had been abolished? What free forms of labour were established? And how can historians connect with the public, museums and artists to explore these issues?

Read the rest.

ARTICLE: Hayes on Peter and King, Benjamin Franklin’s Slaves

Kevin J. Hayes. “New Light on Peter and King, the Two Slaves Benjamin Franklin Brought to England.” Notes and Queries (March 27, 2013). 

Excerpt:

“WHEN Benjamin Franklin went to London on behalf of the Pennsylvania assembly in 1757, his son William accompanied him. In addition, they brought along two slaves. Peter served as personal servant to Benjamin Franklin, and William brought King to serve him in the same capacity. From their arrival in England on 17 July 1757 through their departure in August 1762, Peter remained with Benjamin Franklin. King, on the other hand, ran away from the Franklins. A previously neglected newspaper notice advertising for the apprehension and return of a slave named ‘King’ may significantly alter our understanding of Benjamin Franklin’s relationship to slavery.

Before getting to the text of this advertisement, let’s recall the general story of Peter and King in England, a story beset with a major problem from the outset. By 1750, Benjamin and Deborah Franklin owned a slave couple, Peter and Jemima. In addition, the Franklins had another slave in their household during the 1750s, a ‘Negro Child’, who was inoculated for smallpox in 1756.1 Gary B. Nash theorizes that this child could have been Othello, the male slave who helped Deborah around the house after her husband went to England in 1757…”

Read the rest ($$).

BOOK: Curran on the Anatomy of Blackness

Anatomy of Blackness

Andrew S. Curran, The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment. 1st ed. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.

From Johns Hopkins University Press:

This volume examines the Enlightenment-era textualization of the Black African in European thought. Andrew S. Curran rewrites the history of blackness by replicating the practices of eighteenth-century readers. Surveying French and European travelogues, natural histories, works of anatomy, pro- and anti-slavery tracts, philosophical treatises, and literary texts, Curran shows how naturalists and philosophes drew from travel literature to discuss the perceived problem of human blackness within the nascent human sciences, describes how a number of now-forgotten anatomists revolutionized the era’s understanding of black Africans, and charts the shift of the slavery debate from the moral, mercantile, and theological realms toward that of the “black body” itself. In tracing this evolution, he shows how blackness changed from a mere descriptor in earlier periods into a thing to be measured, dissected, handled, and often brutalized.

Penetrating and comprehensive, The Anatomy of Blackness shows that, far from being a monolithic idea, eighteenth-century Africanist discourse emerged out of a vigorous, varied dialogue that involved missionaries, slavers, colonists, naturalists, anatomists, philosophers, and Africans themselves.

 

EDITED: Keaton, Sharpley-Whiting, and Stovall on Black France

 Trica Danielle Keaton, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, and Tyler Stovall, eds. Black France / France Noire: The History and Politics of Blackness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.

From Duke University Press:

In Black France / France Noire, scholars, activists, and novelists from France and the United States address the untenable paradox at the heart of French society. France’s constitutional and legal discourses do not recognize race as a meaningful category. Yet the lived realities of race and racism are ever-present in the nation’s supposedly race-blind society. The vaunted universalist principles of the French Republic are far from realized. Any claim of color-blindness is belied by experiences of anti-black racism, which render blackness a real and consequential historical, social, and political formation. Contributors to this collection of essays demonstrate that blackness in France is less an identity than a response to and rejection of anti-black racism. Black France / France Noire is a distinctive and important contribution to the increasingly public debates on diversity, race, racialization, and multicultural intolerance in French society and beyond.

Contributors. Rémy Bazenguissa-Ganga, Allison Blakely, Jennifer Anne Boittin, Marcus Bruce, Fred Constant, Mamadou Diouf, Arlette Frund, Michel Giraud, Bennetta Jules-Rosette, Trica Danielle Keaton, Jake Lamar, Patrick Lozès, Alain Mabanckou, Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Tyler Stovall, Christiane Taubira, Dominic Thomas, Gary Wilder

Read the introduction here.

Afro-Europe posted a round-up of links related to race, racism, and blackness in France. Click here for more.

 

(H/T: AFRO-EUROPE: Book: Black France / France Noire: The History and Politics of Blackness)

EDITED: Gleeson and Lewis on the Bicentennial of the International Slave Trade Bans

David T. Gleeson and Simon Lewis, eds. Ambiguous Anniversary: The Bicentennial of the International Slave Trade Bans. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2012.

From University of South Carolina Press:

In March 1807, within a few weeks of each other, both the United States and the United Kingdom passed laws banning the international slave trade. Two hundred years later, Great Britain, an instigator of the slave trade and the chief source of slaves sold into continental North America, was awash nationwide in commemorations of the ban. By contrast the bicentennial
of the ban received almost no attention in the United States. Ambiguous Anniversary aims to remedy that omission and to explain the discrepancy between the two commemorative responses. Edited by David T. Gleeson and Simon Lewis, this volume examines the impact that closing the international slave trade in 1808 had on Southern American economics, politics,
and society.

Recasting the history of slavery in the early Republic and the memory of slavery and abolition in American culture, the foreword, introduction, and ten essays in this volume present a complex picture of an important but partial step in America’s long struggle toward the ambitious but ambiguous goal of liberty and justice for all….

ARTICLE: Deusen on Indigenous Slaves in Castile

“Gold Smelting, Panama, 1560s-1570s,” [Image Reference MA3900f102] as shown on http://www.slaveryimages.org, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library. (Click image for details)

Abstract:

This article considers the construction of indigenous (indio) slave identity within the contexts of the sixteenth-century Atlantic and Mediterranean worlds. Of the more than two thousand indio slaves from Latin America who were forced to migrate to Castile during the sixteenth century, nearly two hundred questioned the legality of their enslaved condition based upon the tenets of the New Laws (1542), which declared indios to be free vassals of the Spanish Crown. This resulted in the initiation of 123 before the tribunals of the House of Trade and the Council of the Indies. Because of the need to identify the imperial (Spanish versus Portuguese) origins of indio litigants, witnesses navigated physiognomic identity markers and other criteria. But identification was a subjective art that depended on the legal culture of the courtroom, the experiences and incentives of deponents, and the presence of other slaves in Castile from Brazil, West and North Africa, South and East Asia, or Granada. Analyzing the complex process of labeling indios in such a globalized context shows not only how notions of indigenous enslaveability evolved over the course of the sixteenth century but how Castilian interpretations of phenotype and identity were varied and complex.

BOOK: Dobie on Images of Slavery in 18c French Culture

Madeleine Dobie. Trading Places: Colonization and Slavery in Eighteenth-Century French Culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010.

“In Trading Places, Madeleine Dobie explores the place of the colonial world in the culture of the French Enlightenment. She shows that until a turning point in the late 1760s questions of colonization and slavery occupied a very marginal position in literature, philosophy, and material and visual culture. In an exploration of the causes and modalities of this silence, Dobie traces the displacement of colonial questions onto two more familiar—and less ethically challenging—aspects of Enlightenment thought: exoticization of the Orient and fascination with indigenous Amerindian cultures.

Expanding the critical analysis of the cultural imprint of colonization to encompass commodities as well as texts, Dobie considers how tropical raw materials were integrated into French material culture. In an original exploration of the textile and furniture industries Dobie considers consumer goods both as sites of representation and as vestiges of the labor of the enslaved. Turning to the closing decades of the eighteenth century, Dobie considers how silence evolved into discourse. She argues that sustained examination of the colonial order was made possible by the rise of economic liberalism, which attacked the prevailing mercantilist doctrine and formulated new perspectives on agriculture, labor (including slavery), commerce, and global markets. Questioning recent accounts of late Enlightenment “anticolonialism,” she shows that late eighteenth-century French philosophers opposed slavery while advocating the expansion of a “liberalized” colonial order. Innovative and interdisciplinary, Trading Places combines literary and historical analysis with new research into political economy and material culture.”