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European Imperialism Ended Slavery Worldwide
European Imperialism Ended Slavery Worldwide
European Imperialism Ended Slavery Worldwide

"The widespread revulsion which the hideous institution of slavery inspires today was largely confined to Western civilisation a century ago, and a century before that was largely confined to a portion of British society.

No one seems interested in the epic story of how this curse that covered the globe and endured for thousands of years was finally gotten rid of by the West - not only in Western societies but in other societies conquered, controlled, or pressured by the West.

The resistance put up by Africans, Asians and Arabs was monumental in defense of slavery, and lasted for more than a century. Only the overwhelming military power of the West enabled it to prevail on this issue, and only the moral outrage of Western peoples kept their government's feet to the fire politically to maintain the pressure against slavery around the world.

Of course, this is not the kind of story that appeals to the multiculturalists. If it had been the other way around - if Asian or African imperialists had stamped out slavery in Europe - it would still be celebrated, in story and song, on campuses across America."

- Thomas Sowell, "Multicultural instruction"
"Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."
- Abraham Lincoln
"In Africa down to the 1930's, the various tribes continued to raid one another to capture slaves both for domestic use and to sell to outsiders. Moreover, in spite of the picture presented in Alex Haley's Roots, white slave traders almost never entered the interior in pursuit of prey but rather purchased their cargo from Africans at the ocean front; coastal Africans would not allow Europeans either into or through their own countries... ....some scholars claimed that slavery in Africa was a response to the international slave trade, but it is now obvious that (Black) slavery was an old domestic institution that was adapted for supplying the international market when it developed."
- Richard Hellie, "Slavery in Russia 1450-1725"
"Among the Tuareg of the southern Sahara, during the 19th century 70-90% of the population were probably slaves. In the Sahel and the savannah, half the population might be slaves, while in the forests the figure could be as low as 10 to 20 percent. Professor Oliver in "The African Experience" argues that the European and American demand for slaves may not have increased the supply. White slave traders almost never ventured into the interior and were dependent on a varying supply over which they had no control. They followed the flow of captives rather than create it, shifting their bases up and down the coast according to where tribal wars were producing the most slaves. Africa clung to slavery long after it was abolished elsewhere. Between the world wars, Liberia, founded by freed American slaves, was censured by the League of Nations for practising slavery."
- Thomas Jackson, 1992, American Renaissance 3, x.
Thomas Sowell in "Race and Culture" notes that, historically speaking, it was not only blacks who bore the burden of slavery. Millions of people - Europeans, Africans and Asians - have suffered the indignity of involuntary servitude. The very word "slave", he notes, is a close etymological relative of the word "Slav", and came to be used because the Slavic peoples were once a favorite prey of slave traders. To contend, therefore, that some of the uglier social difficulties commonplace within the black community are a "legacy of slavery" is unequivocal rubbish, in Sowell's view.
As he points out, before 1950, and going back over 100 years to the era of slavery, most black children were reared in two-parent homes. Black social problems are a legacy of the welfare state, Sowell asserts, not of events in past centuries and certainly not of "racism".
- James Thornton, 1995, New American 11, i.
Was slavery a racist institution? No. Slavery was practised for thousands of years in virtually all societies: in China, India, Europe, the Arab world, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Americas. In the United States, slave-holding was not confined to whites: American Indians and free blacks owned thousands of slaves. Thus slavery is neither distinctively Western nor racist. What is uniquely Western is the abolition of slavery.
- Dinesh D'Souza, "The End of Racism"
Slavery was an ugly, dirty business but people of virtually every race, color, and creed engaged in it on every inhabited continent. And the people they enslaved were also of virtually every race, color, and creed... a million Europeans were enslaved by North Africans between 1500 and 1800. Europeans enslaved other Europeans for centuries before the drying up of that supply led them to turn to Africa as a source of slaves for the Western Hemisphere.
- Thomas Sowell

On the issue of slavery, it was essentially Western civilization against the world. What was peculiar about the West was not that it participated in the worldwide evil of slavery, but that it later abolished that evil... it was essentially European imperialism which ended slavery.

- Thomas Sowell, "Black Rednecks and White Liberals"

African kings were glad to provide a steady flow of men, women and children, who they said were criminals or prisoners of war doomed for execution. Many were not, but this did not prevent partisans of the trade from posing as philanthropists who were rescuing the Africans from death and offering them a better and, of course, more productive life. An African chief, dismayed by the news that the slave trade was on the verge of abolition, insisted that his "oracle and priests" had told him that their god wholeheartedly approved of it. The Christian and Muslim gods agreed, or so their clerics proclaimed.

- Lawrence James, reviewing Hugh Thomas' "The Slave Trade"
The vogue of repudiating black family names that supposedly were given by slaveowners in times past is another reflection of the widespread ignorance of history among Americans in general, as a result of our dumbed-down education. Slaves were not only not given family names, they were forbidden to have family names.
Slaveowners in the American antebellum South were especially opposed to slaves having family names because such names emphasized family ties - and the only legally recognized tie of a slave was to his owner, who could sell him miles away from his kin. The slaves themselves, however, used family names to create a sense of family, though they were careful not to use these names around whites.
- Thomas Sowell, "Naming Names"

It was Al Gore who, in an election campaign attack on Bush's alleged judicial preferences, repeated the libel claiming that the framers of the Constitution regarded a black person as 'three-fifths of a human being'. This is one of the most widely believed myths in black America today. In fact, it was not 'blacks' as such, who were so designated but slaves, there were thousands of free blacks, and it was the anti-slavery Framers who insisted on the three-fifths figure in order to diminish the electoral power of the slave South.

- David Horowitz, "Bush's Political Lynching", Salon.Com

"If great improvements are seldom to be expected from great proprietors, they are least of all to be expected when they employ slaves for their workmen. The experience of all ages and nations, I believe, demonstrates that the work done by slaves, though it appears to cost only their maintenance, is in the end the dearest of any. A person who can acquire no property, can have no other interest but to eat as much, and to labour as little as possible. Whatever work he does beyond what is sufficient to purchase his own maintenance can be squeezed out of him by violence only... the pride of man makes him love to domineer, and nothing mortifies him so much as to be obliged to condescend to persuade his inferiors. Wherever the law allows it, and the nature of the work can afford it, therefore, he will generally prefer the service of slaves to that of freemen."

- Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations" (1776)

The anti-slavery movement was spearheaded by people who would today be called "the religious right" and its organization was created by conservative businessmen. Moreover, what destroyed slavery in the non-Western world was Western imperialism. Nothing could be more jolting and discordant with the vision of today's intellectuals than the fact that it was businessmen, devout religious leaders and Western imperialists who together destroyed slavery around the world. And if it doesn't fit their vision, it is the same to them as if it never happened.
- Thomas Sowell

Since the 1960s, it has been fashionable in some quarters to take cheap shots at Lincoln, asking such questions as "Why didn't he free all the slaves?" "Why did he wait so long?" "How come the Emancipation Proclamation didn't just come right out and say that slavery was wrong?"
People who indulge themselves in this kind of self-righteous carping act as if Lincoln was someone who could do whatever he damn well pleased, without regard to the law, the Congress, or the Supreme Court. Just one fact should give pause to Lincoln's critics today: When Lincoln sat down to write the Emancipation Proclamation, the Supreme Court was still headed by Chief Justice Roger Taney, who had issued the infamous Dred Scott decision, saying a black man had no rights which a white man needed to respect. This was a Supreme Court that would not have hesitated to declare the freeing of slaves unconstitutional — and Lincoln knew it. There would have been no point in issuing an Emancipation Proclamation that didn't actually emancipate anybody. Ringing rhetoric about the wrongness of slavery would not have gotten the Emancipation Proclamation past Taney and his Supreme Court. Since Lincoln's purpose was to free millions of human beings, not leave some rhetoric to be preserved in the anthologies, he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation in dry legalistic terms that disappointed thoughtless critics in his time and ours, but got it past the Supreme Court. Nothing in the Constitution gave a President the authority to free slaves. The only thing Lincoln could use to make his actions legal was his authority as commander-in-chief in wartime. But that meant that he could only free the slaves in territory controlled by enemy forces. Lincoln was out on a limb, both politically and legally. He could have been impeached. At a minimum, he expected to lose the next election and was surprised when he didn't. But today we see the spectacle of pygmies sniping at this giant. As for the other slaves not covered by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln worked behind the scenes to try to get slave-holding border states to emancipate them by state actions that would be beyond the jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Thomas Sowell, "Trashing Our History: Lincoln"

Lincoln image by Chip Bok.


Julius Caesar enslaved as many as one million Whites from Gaul. From the eighth to the eleventh century France was a major transfer point for White slaves to the Muslim world, with Rouen being the center for the selling of Irish and Flemish slaves. At the same time Venetians were selling slaves and timber across the Mediterranean. The slaves were usually Slavs brought across the Alps. From 1609 until the early 1800's, between one half and two thirds of all the White colonists who came to the New World came as slaves. Of the passengers on the Mayflower, twelve were White slaves. White slaves cleared the forests, drained the swamps, built the roads. They worked and died in greater numbers than anyone else.
In Barbados by the 1640's there were an estimated 25,000 slaves, of whom 21,700 were White. Cromwell's conquest of Ireland in the middle of the seventeenth century made slaves as well as subjects of the Irish people. Over a hundred thousand men, women and children were seized by the English troops and shipped to the West Indies, where they were sold into slavery. In the British West Indies the torture visited upon White slaves by their masters was routine. Masters hung White slaves by their hands and set their hands afire as a means of punishment.
To end this barbarity, Colonel William Brayne wrote to English authorities in 1656 urging the importation of negro slaves on the grounds that, "as the planters would have to pay much for them, they would have an interest in preserving their lives, which was wanting in the case of whites.", many of whom, he charged, were killed by overwork and cruel treatment. Ten thousand Whites were kidnapped from England in the year 1670 alone.

- M.A. Hoffman, "They Were White and They Were Slaves"
"Hope, the best comfort of our imperfect condition, was not denied to the Roman slave; and if he had any opportunity of rendering himself either useful or agreeable, he might very naturally expect that the diligence and fidelity of a few years would be rewarded with the inestimable gift of freedom."
- Edward Gibbon, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", 1776.


An apology for slavery on behalf of the American nation presumes that whites today, who predominantly oppose racism, and never owned slaves, and who bear no personal responsibility for slavery, still bear a collective responsibility-a guilt they bear simply by belonging to the same race as the slave-holders of the Old South. Such an apology promotes the very idea at the root of slavery: racial collectivism.
Those who owned slaves were certainly guilty of a grave injustice. But by what standards can other whites (many of whom are not even descendants of the slave-holders) be held responsible for their ideas and actions? The only justification for such an approach is the idea that each member of the race can be blamed for the actions of every other member, that we are all just interchangeable cells of the racial collective.
The ultimate result of this approach is not racial harmony or a color-blind society, but racial warfare. Under the premise of racial collectivism, an injustice committed against any member of your racial group entitles you to retaliate against any member of the perpetrator's racial group.
The only alternative to this kind of racial balkanization is to reject the notion of racial collectivism altogether and embrace the opposite principle: individualism. People should be judged based on their choices, ideas, and actions as individuals, not as "representatives" of a racial group. They should be rewarded based on their own merits-and they must not be forced to pay, or to apologize, for crimes committed by others, merely because those others have the same skin color. Americans, both black and white, should reject the notion of a collective guilt for slavery. They should uphold the ideal of a color-blind society, based on individualism, as the real answer to racism.

- Robert W. Tracinski, "Apology for Slavery Will Perpetuate Racism"
What no one in their delegations (to the Durban Racism Conference" will say is this - that the West has nothing to apologize or pay for, least of all Britain. London abolished slavery in the British Isles in 1772 and within the Empire in 1833, in the teeth of fierce opposition from Arab and West African traders. If one had to single out one institution that did more to end the trade in human beings than any other, it would be the Royal Navy, whose ships enforced the ban at great risk to themselves. Yet the reflexive shame in their inheritance is such that no British, or Canadian, delegate in Durban would dream of standing up for the historical record.
- Mark Steyn, "The World Conference Against Whitey"

"Think about it: we went into slavery pagans; we came out Christians. We went into slavery pieces of property; we came out American citizens. We went into slavery with chains clanking about our wrists; we came out with the American ballot in our hands. Notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, we are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally and religiously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe."

- Booker T. Washington, "Selected Speeches" (1932)
"My ancestors who lived and died in slavery are dead. The white men who profited by their labor and lives are dead also. I have no personal memory of those times and no responsibility for them. Neither has the grandson of the man who held my folks… I have no intention of wasting my time beating on old graves. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negroes who hold that nature somehow has given them a low down dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it… Slavery is the price I paid for civilization, and that is worth all that I have paid through my ancestors for it.
- Zora Neale Hurston

In the nineteenth century, when France and Britain outlawed slavery in their territories, African chiefs who had grown fat on the slave trade sent protest delegations to Paris and London. As Dinesh D'Souza in "The End of Racism" explains, Africans never developed a principled opposition to slavery; they denounced it when they were slaves but practised it happily when they could. Slavery can still be found in Africa. In America too, by 1830, some 3,500 free blacks in the South owned approximately 10,000 slaves.
D'Souza finds that in North America "slaves were, in material terms of diet, health and shelter, slightly better off than northern industrial workers, and far better off than workers in much of Europe." As he points out, "no free workers enjoyed a comparable social security system from birth until death." Moreover, life expectancy for slaves was only slightly lower than that of their owners. When slave owners had really dangerous work to do, they hired Irish navvies rather than risk their valuable property." On balance, says Mr D'Souza, whites owe blacks nothing on account of slavery.

- Thomas Jackson, 1995, American Renaissance, xi.
"In Brazil slavery was never as widespread as in the United States, and race relations are consistently described as better than they are in the US, yet the disparity between black and white incomes is greater in Brazil than in the US. Cuba also has a mixed population and is famous for its aggressive, socialist egalitarianism. Though Cuban officials are embarrassed by this and try to keep it a secret, blacks are invariably at the bottom of society.
The Caribbean nation of Haiti presents an interesting parallel to the failures of black Africans. Its six million inhabitants are all black, the descendants of slaves. Haiti has essentially been governed by blacks ever since the slave insurrection of 1791, in which nearly all whites were killed. Thus it has a history of independence and black rule that is much longer than that of African nations. Despite such different histories, Haiti is practically indistinguishable from Africa in terms of GNP per caput, infant mortality rates, average educational level, and all the other indices of modernization. Its governments have been the corrupt shambles that is typical of Africa. If Haiti were dragged across the Atlantic Ocean and attached to the coast of Africa, it would seem perfectly at home."
- Samuel Taylor, 1992, American Renaissance 3, xi.

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