No, I do not equate the African-American’s slavery with that of the Irish. However, I am very certain that the history of Irish slavery and even the slavery that still goes on in this world, particularly on the African continent is virtually unknown or at least unacknowledged by blacks and whites alike here in America. If I showed the picture to the left to almost all, but particularly black Americans, I have no doubt I would either find myself being on the wrong end of a fist or at least excessive outrage. Few would ever think this was an Irish monkey.
I am going to say something considered by most as blasphemous, but here it goes: Lincoln’s war to preserve the Union, subsequently called the Civil War, had absolutely nothing to do with slavery, but economics, with anti-slavery used for purely moral justification and fringe support. If the new President had not taken a path that resulted in the death of over 700,000 lives, the burning, looting, raping and eventual armed occupation of the southern slave states, slavery would have become economically and socially obsoleted within no more than 10-15 years from the date that ended up, unfortunately, being the start of hostilities. And along with either two relatively independent nations living in harmony, or eventually and more likely, as a reunited America, both or the united one would have been far more dynamic and prosperous than that which resulted from the bloodshed. Furthermore both blacks of either nation or the reunited one, would have become exponentially more rapidly assimilated and integrated into their respective American socioeconomic civilizations.
War, bloodshed and an enforced settlement and reparation, as it has done countless times throughout history, leads to simmering unanticipated anger and unhealed wounds that fester for generations. The price is still being paid by the black community, not just because of slavery, but perhaps even more so as a result of how it was ended.
They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.
Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.
We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade.
But, are we talking about African slavery? King James II and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s famed Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor.
The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.
Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.