Atlantic Slave Trade
It’s time for black Americans to put the “We are all Immigrants” belief in proper perspective. African Americans are an ethnic group to which the cliché does not factually apply. Politely nodding in agreement to their own marginalization has become fully acceptable in black leadership circles. And since they don’t oppose the idea, rank and file blacks accept the idea as gospel truth too. But everyone capable of historical reasoning, clearly understands that ancestral blacks did not migrate to the U.S. Facts will reveal the truth. Now, there is some truth in the belief that America is a nation of immigrants. The problem is that this often repeated idea is only partially true! There is no question that various immigrant groups are the foundational populations to which most Americans can trace their ancestry. A slightly different scenario emerges however, when the myth is examined through the lens of the African American experience in the American “melting pot.” Very quickly an ominous sense of foreboding descends on the entire matter. The situation is succinctly described by a highly respected source who was familiar with the complexities of black’s presence and position in the human collage that is America.
On Saturday March 4, 1865, the 16th President of the United States delivered his Second Inaugural Address to an adoring crowd. Thousands were present in front of the East Portico of the White House to witness the momentous speech containing only 701 words. Mr. Abraham Lincoln devoted a portion of those words to a topic familiar to most Americans. In the third paragraph of the Address he writes that…”One eight of the whole population (at the time of the Civil War) were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by War; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it…Each (northerners and southerners) looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.”
Data from the eighth U.S. Census in 1860 determined the total population to be 31,443,321 Americans. Within that population was 3,953,761 slaves or 12.6% of the general population. Freed blacks were apparently not included in the count. Allowing for the natural increase in human populations, the generally accepted number of blacks in America at the time of Mr. Lincoln’s second presidential address, some five years after the 1860 general census, is 4 million. These are blacks who arrived in America in bondage and at gunpoint between 1619 and 1810 and their American-born children. After 1810 the importation of African slaves was banned in the United States thereby making all increases in the slave population to that point, the result of live births. It’s a relatively safe assumption then that none of the +4 million blacks in antebellum America considered himself or herself an immigrant…and President Lincoln did not consider them as such either. These Africans and their progeny were by law and custom, considered imported property.
There is no attempt here to deliberately revise a time honored and universally cherished national slogan just to be hateful or malicious. It should be pointed out that no nation-loving American sets out to deliberately dismantle a time-honored and cherished national belief without sufficient cause. There has to exist compelling rational grounds to rebuke an iconic ideal’s core message. And in this case there are such justifications. Its seems that there are major historio-cultural weaknesses in the idea that merit a critique ; 1) the presence of factual ambiguity; 2) absence of historical correctness; and 3) the desire to project unfettered generosity as a national characteristic. In the effort to manufacture this charitable principle and to then tout it for national consumption, the proponents overshot their mark and instead imprinted a credo onto the psyche of the American public that is essentially a stylized overstatement of factual evidence bordering on deception by omission.
Even more baffling than the campaign to popularize the “We are all immigrants” maxim, is that the notion as presented seems inviolable, and is therefore elevated above contestation, challenge or opposition. Undisputed. Unchallenged. Unopposed. That the lofty status of this belief has made it impervious to criticism or re-examination says a great deal about the power of the media and perhaps even more about the state of mind of the American public. As a result of its rise to dominance, this cliché makes progress in the deadlocked national discussion on immigration virtually impossible. It’s very easy to label anyone who does not go along with the myth a bigot or worse. Consequently, African American political pundits cautiously, if ever engage in the immigration argument with any conviction unless they willfully and callously are willing to reject the dreadful start their ancestors got off to in America. Leading blacks simply genuflect symbolically in the direction of the Statue of Liberty by concurring with the myth and then moving on to less contentious discussions. Several imbedded assumptions however are consistently implied as a result of the predictable impasse that these quarrelsome debates reach. At the conclusion of these discussions it can be reliably predicted that ; 1) no decisive action is going to be taken by either the Democrats or the Republicans to stem the massive influx of foreigner nationals from South America, 2) to oppose unrestricted illegal immigration is somehow antithetical to American ideals, 3) the rule of law must be suspended in the case of illegal immigrants because their presence in America is now irreversible, 4) immigrants are arbitrarily assumed to be a revitalizing force for the nation, 5) borders are artificial constructs that impede the natural movement of humans and suppresses their predilection to seek and follow road signs that lead to greater material and social opportunity, and 6) America is a nation of immigrants.
The first five of these assumptions are arguable on the grounds of their being vague and unsubstantiated. They lack evidence of theoretical integrity and sociological validity making them easily refuted by careful, objective analysis. It’s the sixth assumption however, that is most resistant to criticism and least subject to change; that is because it is partially true, highly regarded and inherently desirable… and hence, the perfect rhetorical bomb to drop in a serious, televised immigration debate. Nonetheless, no one dare challenge this assumption due to the reverence with which it is held and because of the almost magical power that it acquires when spoken. That “America is a nation of immigrants” is a mantra that’s used to bludgeon immigration control advocates into, at a minimum, neutrality. Today, proponents on both sides of the debate consider the notion that “America = immigrant” to practically be axiomatic. The notion plays well with the public, creates great sound bites for politicians, resonates with all demographics… but is in stark contrast to the authentic history of a people who never migrated to the United States; black Americans.
As any clear thinking, informed, black American will admit, their ancestors were never considered “immigrants.” Yet, they withhold their misgivings out of a peculiar reluctance to not be perceived as someone outside of the mainstream ideology. Nonetheless, the definition of an immigrant is “a person who voluntarily comes to a country where they were not born in order to settle there.” Would the operative word, voluntarily, in the description of an immigrant be suitable for a Kunta Kinte, the character in the epic 1977 TV miniseries “ROOTS” who easily personified the 4 million black slaves in America in 1860?? Of course not; and the label “immigrant” if it were applied to Kunta Kinte, would be a fraudulent, grotesque exaggeration. Mr. Kinte did not immigrate…he came to America in chains. He was forced at gunpoint into the hold of a ship anchored off the coast of his native land and then forcibly and involuntarily relocated to America to work/labor under horrific conditions without compensation, until he died.
Obviously the cliché that “America is a nation of immigrants” has little if any viable application to the real world existence of 21st century black Americans who are aware of the full arc of their history on this continent. Yet the idea remains one of America’s most venerated and frequently repeated platitudes. The reason for the stubborn insistence that this myth is a national truism is in part due to the desire of liberal ideologues and the irrational “open-borders” crowd, to mythologize the peopling of America to their advantage. The intent is to assuage the sensibilities of Americans who would prefer not to delve into the harsh reality of chattel slavery in our nation’s founding.
The fact of the matter is that black people arrived in America early and in great numbers. No reception center welcomed the arrival of these dazed, frightened men, women and children. Immediately upon arrival they were subjected to the dehumanizing “seasoning” process. From that point forward, their general conditions deteriorated rapidly. Only deliberate historical amnesia can account for any other description of the introduction of blacks to their new lives in America. And the historical record is filled with accounts of the lives of black slaves in America going back for hundreds of years describing the horrific conditions under which they worked and lived. It is nonsense to believe that 4 million immigrants would trade their native land, family, culture and freedom …to be a slave in a foreign land in perpetuity. But the myth survives, facts notwithstanding. How can this be?
Well, in a delusional, secular America, truth is irrelevant…right and wrong are passé. So if, America is NOT a nation of immigrants exclusively and in the truest sense, never was…who cares?? The situation is way beyond seeking the truth at this point. It is being used as some sort of psychological salve that allows the user to find comfort in what can only be described as a kind of historical magnanimity. In an America that is allegedly beyond “race” everyone is anxious to bask in the glow of espoused cultural and racial progress while its anathema to revisit the calamitous racial situation at the dawn of the nation. As a result, repetition over time has made the myth an apparent highly self-evident fact. The only way to reverse the myth is for Black Americans to politely, but insistently denounce it as it applies to them at every opportunity. If not, the myth will continue to be injurious to the black American historical presence in the U.S., to the extent that our children may one day think that the American slaves were grateful for being transported to these shores.
Ironically, as the great expanses of land in our nation beckoned for waves of Oriental, European and Latin American immigrants to join the grand experiment in democracy, a roiling mass of blacks were already here, under extreme hardships and trying desperately to escape. Today in America, the “welcome wagon” greets immigrants at our borders whether they are legals or illegals. These transnationals are granted and fully expect to receive subsidies, medical care, job opportunities and in many cases, the unofficial extension of the right to U.S. citizenship. For African Americans though, those same privileges of citizenship took a Civil War to acquire and later a constitutional amendment to guarantee, though they had already been in America for generations. Obviously, the contrast between the arrival circumstances of blacks and other ethnic groups is then, palpable to the extreme. One thing is however, for sure…early American blacks were never, never, ever immigrants.
Believe it or not, there are several Bible verses that seem to prophesy the last 400 years black slavery in America. In fact, these verses contain so many subtle details, that they have opened the eyes of many to the possibility that black people in America might be the true descendants of the Israelites. Let’s look at and dissect each of these verses. As always, I encourage you to read each chapter in it’s entirety for context.
When I was first approached with the idea that black people in America might be descendants of the true Hebrews, I wasn’t very receptive to it because of who was telling me and how they were telling me. The hatred displayed by many of the people that have come to this knowledge, is a complete turn off intellectually, so I ignored it. Because of that, I decided to write this introduction to the subject, without all of the hateful extras. If you find it helpful, please share it. I credit my interest and research into the subject to Xavier Jackson and TEOTW.
Exhibit A – The Eagle Reference
“The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;” – Deuteronomy 28:39
No matter which direction you go, America is the end of the earth, so that’s not what we’re going to look at first. In my opinion, the very specific reference to an eagle is the more interesting fact, especially in a chapter that warns Israel about future enslavement if they disobey the Lord.
Many people have interpreted this invading nation as Rome, but notice that the prophesied nation comes from the far end of the earth, and as we’ll learn later, they do it in ships. The following maps will give you an idea of the proximity of Rome (now Italy) to Israel:
While Rome could’ve come via ship, they certainly did not come from the ends of the earth, and as we will see below, the Romans did not take millions of Hebrews away from Israel as slaves via ships. The above prophecy does not fit Rome, even though they did use the eagle to represent their empire.
Rome Didn’t Remove The Hebrews
In the New Testament, we see that there are Roman soldiers stationed in Israel, alongside the Hebrews that were living there. In fact, it is one of the main points in the story of the crucifixion. The Hebrews were celebrating Passover, which made it necessary for the Romans to crucify Christ, because the Hebrews could not stone him to death during Passover. This is important because the invading country had to take the Hebrews to a place where they would never see home again for many generations.
“And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.” – Deuteronomy 28:68
Rome did not remove the Israelites from their land by ships or otherwise. It’s important to understand that not all Hebrews lived in Israel, but many would journey to and from other countries, and back to Israel freely. We see this in the New Testament, when Joseph and Mary flee with Christ to Egypt (Matthew 2:13), and return years later, after the death of Herod (Matthew 2:21). Now that we can see that Rome does not fit the prophecy, let’s look at America and why I believe that it is a better fit to this verse.
If we look at the map carefully and honestly, the United States is the “the ends of the earth”. Europeans and Asians do not need ships to reach Israel. They can do it by land. The only countries that fits the description are the United States, Canada, and South American countries.
- To the west of Africa are North and South America.
- To the east of Asia are North and South America.
- Africa, Europe, and Asia are all physically connected.
The Americas are literally as far as you can go east or west before you start heading back toward Israel, so it is based on that evidence that I conclude that America is the country from the ends of the earth that is being referenced. The Americas are also where the slave ships came from to remove millions of people from Africa, across the ocean, rendering them unable to ever return to Israel again.
Another piece that fits this puzzle, is the fact that America also uses an eagle with outstretched wings to represent the country. This detail of outstretched wings will be touched on in Exhibit C.
The chapter goes on to make another very specific reference:
Exhibit B – Slave Ships
“And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.” – Deuteronomy 28:68
Many people point to this as some of the strongest evidence that the slave trade was predicted in the Bible, and I agree. It is pretty strong. Many black slaves were kidnapped, which fits the part that says “and no man shall buy you”, and they were sold back and forth between slave owners, which fulfills the rest of the verse.
If we look at the following maps, we’ll see that there was no need for Egypt to use ships to get to Israel, because it was within walking distance. This fact leads many to believe that the referenced “Egypt” refers to a similar country in the future, and not literal Egypt.
The Israelites walked to Israel from Egypt in scripture, which lets us know that literal Egypt is not being reference. What we also know from history is that America did use slave ships to kidnap black people from various parts of Africa. In order to understand how Africa is tied into this prophecy, you have to understand that many Hebrews fled into Africa to escape the Babylonian, Greek, and Roman invasion. Many fled to West and North West Africa to start over. From there, they migrated south and west, spreading Hebrew culture as they went.
Here are the maps of Zimbabwe and South Africa, to give you an idea of where the Lemba are located. If you’d like to look more into the history of Jews in Africa, this link is a good place to get started.
Before we move on, let’s look at Hebrew culture found in Ethiopia. Some Ethiopians claim to be descendants of Solomon, through his son Menelik, whom he had with The Queen of Sheba.
Why The Egypt Reference?
I’ll be honest… This is of special interest to me because of the choice to reference Egypt. This choice of wording has led to speculation from many teachers, including myself, as to why this was done. Some of the similarities may relate to:
- Slavery in America may have been similar to slavery in Egypt.
- The time frame of slavery in America has been roughly 400 years, and may be over 400 years (we’ll come back to this), which was also the amount of time that the Hebrews spent as slaves in Egypt.
- Something in America may be similar to Egypt, which would make it extremely specific.
- It may be a combination of all of the above.
These are interesting comparisons, but I’d like to offer a third and very unique comparison: We have a miniature, but very impressive replica of Egypt, right here in my home town of Las Vegas, NV.
This has been in Las Vegas, NV since I was a kid… and in case you’re wondering, that light on the top is 100% real, but has been toned down because pilots said it was too bright. It shines all the way into space. You can see this light from anywhere in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, and Summerlin.
In my opinion, if the original pyramids looked anything like this, the only word to describe them would be breathtaking. The Luxor Hotel even had a replica of the Nile River, that ran through the entire hotel, but it was later removed. Years ago, they actually bought King Tut’s sarcophagus and placed it on display. I’m not sure if it’s still there, but the rumor is they removed it after some strange deaths occurred, but that could just be marketing hype.
While this is in no way proof that this replica of Egypt was what scripture was referring to, it does offer an interesting “coincidence”. There is also another large piece of Egyptian architecture in our nation’s capital. The Washington Monument.
When we look at the larger picture, we can start connecting the dots. What are the odds that a country across the ocean would make a replica of Egypt in the Las Vegas desert, place an Egyptian structure in the nation’s capital, and both of those structures be standing around the time that black people are coming upon 400 years of slavery in America? If the Bible isn’t pointing to this, it is one of the biggest coincidences I’ve ever seen. To summarize what we’ve looked at so far, take a look at the following:
- The nation is associated with an eagle.
- The nation will come from the far ends of the earth.
- The nation would take slaves in ships.
- The nation is compared to Egypt.
Moving on to the next point in this study, we’ll see that those who would enslave Israel would come by sea in ships. This is a very unique identifier because we know that without slave ships, black slavery in America would’ve been impossible.
Exhibit C – Land of Shadowing Wings
“Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia: That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!” – Isaiah 18:1-2
The reference to a “land shadowing with wings” wouldn’t be so interesting without the previous reference to the eagle in Deuteronomy 28:39. The choice to use the word “shadowing” seems to indicate that this land being referenced is large, and casts it’s shadow over other nations.
While the Roman Empire had a presence in Europe, Asia, and Africa, the United States’ military reach is vastly larger than anything the Roman Empire ever accomplished. Look carefully at the picture below. It shows the full military reach of the United States, confirming that it is indeed a land shadowing with wings (click the map to enlarge).
Beyond The Rivers of Ethiopia
Geographically, it wouldn’t make sense to refer to Rome as the land beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, when Rome was located across the Mediterranean Sea. Let’s look at a map to see exactly where the rivers of Ethiopia are. If we look at the map to the right, we can see that The Nile and a few other smaller rivers run out of Ethiopia and into North Africa. The
In order to figure out what this reference is pointing to, let’s focus on the geographic location of Ethiopia. East of the rivers of Ethiopia is the Arabian sea and then India, but if we head directly west of Ethiopia, we run into the Atlantic Ocean, and then the Caribbean Islands, located between North and South America. This is something we’re going to dig into deeper in Exhibit D.
Since Israel is located on the east of the Nile, heading west from there would point us toward Florida. But by using Ethiopia as the point of focus, and heading west, we land right in the center of the Atlantic Slave Trade routes to North America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands.
The reason that I’m confident in presenting this theory is because of the part of the verse that reads, “that sendeth ambassadors by sea”. This reference almost definitively points to America being the focus of the prophecy, because of how slaves were taken from Africa to America.
Exhibit D – Scattered In The Islands
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” – Isiah 11:11
One of the most interesting and often overlooked verses concerns the regathering of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered and put into bondage. In these clues we find several references that fit the North Atlantic Slave Trade like a glove… but before we get to that, I want to point out something else very interesting about where God’s people are regathered from:
- Assyria (Arabia) – Founded by Asshur
- Egypt (Africa) – The Land of Ham
- Pathros (Africa) – Founded by Mizraim
- Cush (Africa) – Founded by Cush
- Elam (Arabia) – Founded by Elam
- Shinar (Arabia) – Founded by Nimrod
- Hamath (Arabia) – Possibly Asshur
This brings us to the islands. As part of the North Atlantic Slave Trade, some of the slaves ships passed through the Caribbean islands (West Indies), which are made up of the following islands:
As you can see, the people from these islands come in all different shades, but they are all ethnic. This isn’t proof that all of the Hebrews were people of color, but it is pretty strong evidence that they were. It is only through the above verses that we are continually pointed toward people of color in the west.
Exhibit E – Life Constantly In Danger
“And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:” – Deuteronomy 28:65-66
This constant uncertainty of life has been a reality for black people in America for a very long time. First it was the slave owners murdering rebellious slaves, then it was the Klan killing black men for simply looking at a white woman, and now it’s the police killing black people that so much as breathe too hard.
Exhibit F – 400 Years As Slaves
The timing of black slavery in America is perhaps the most often used rebuttal to Deuteronomy 28:68 and to the idea that many blacks in America are descended from Israel. According to the Bible, Hebrew slavery in Egypt lasted about 400 years. The counter argument to the prophecy applying to blacks in America, is that slavery in America only lasted about 200 years, and was abolished by the 13th Amendment, but that is not true. Slavery in America never ended, and the 13th Amendment is concrete proof of that:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” – 13th Amendment
If we read carefully, we see that slavery was never abolished… it was made CONDITIONAL upon being convicted of a crime. We can look at the current American criminal justice system and see that locking black people in chains is still big business.
As we can see, black people are more likely to be imprisoned because we are 8x more likely to be convicted of the same crime committed by a white person. If you don’t understand how that works, let me say it another way. If 10 black people and 10 white people are arrested for the same crime, statistics show that 2 out of 10 of those white people will go to prison, but 8 out of 10 black people will go to prison. If we do the math on how long black people have been enslaved in America, including the current prison system, we get the following numbers:
Disclaimer: The first calculation uses a commonly accepted date of 1650 as the start of slavery, but the second set of numbers represents 1619 from other sources. These are not predictions of anything, but are meant to show the interesting timing in relation to current events in America.
1650 – 2016
- 366 Years (modern 365 day calendar)
- 371 Years (Hebrew 360 day calendar)
1619 – 2016
- 397 Years (modern 365 day calendar)
- 402 Years (Hebrew 360 day calendar)
Is the timing a coincidence or is there something bigger going on? Only time and more research will reveal what I believe was lost during slavery times.
The 10 Lost Tribes
I do not believe that the 10 “Lost Tribes” are lost at all. I believe that many of the Hebrews were shipped here to America, and were made “lost”. This was done gradually, by enforcing the following:
- Forcing slaves to learn English and punishing them for using their native language.
- Stripping slaves of their birth names, and giving them European names.
- Forbidding them from learning to read or write.
- Re-teaching the Bible as Eurocentric, instead of the Afrocentric text it is.
- Erasing all links to their Hebrew heritage in Africa.
Because of this culture stripping, black Hebrews in America were “blinded” to who they truly were, over time. Now that we are in the age of technology, many people are beginning to wake up to the truth about what really happened with slavery in America.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” – Romans 11:25
In my opinion, the slave trade purposely targeted Hebrews in Africa. The version of history that we know does not add up because natives could have been taken as slaves, but they weren’t. They were slaughtered, and millions of dollars were spent building ships, traveling to Africa, rounding people up, and bringing them to the United States.
The Future Deliverance of Israel
While the Hebrews were punished for their disobedience, God did indeed promise to deliver their descendants from the Gentiles, and it is my personal belief that we may witness this within our lifetime.
“Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.” – Ezekiel 36:22-24
“The sun never sets on the British Empire.” Arguably the greatest empire of all time, at its height the British Empire was certainly the largest empire in history, and for nearly two centuries was the foremost global power. By 1922, the British ruled more than 458 million people, and covered 13,012,000 square miles—almost a quarter of the Earth’s total land area.
But in spite of these great accomplishments, the British Empire sowed the seeds for some of the worst disasters that have afflicted humanity. Although the British were not responsible for all of the events directly, their interference in others’ problems was often just as destructive. Here are ten ways the British Empire ruined the world:
Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments, the ruling party in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. The rights of the nation’s black majority were curtailed, and white supremacy and Afrikaner-minority rule was maintained.
The British did institute some reforms after they seized the Cape from the originally Dutch Boers—such as by repealing the more offensive anti-black Boer laws. But after one hundred years of wars, and having gained complete political control, the British made a decision that doomed many South Africans. They gave Boer republics the green light to disenfranchise all non-whites. The apartheid system was entrenched in the Union constitution, which was drawn and approved by the British government. In 1913, the Native Land Act was brought into force; it pushed black people off the land on which they were either owners or tenants, and relocated them to shantytowns in the cities.
Apartheid would not end until the F. W. de Klerk government moved to lift bans on African political parties, such as the Africa National Congress and Pan African Congress. These actions culminated in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, which were won by the African National Congress headed by Nelson Mandela.
Some things just don’t click until there’s a name and a face behind the story. Discover the personal horror of Apartheid in the controversial Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa at Amazon.com!
9. Irish Potato Famine
During the summer of 1845, a “blight of unusual character” devastated Ireland’s potato crop—the staple of the Irish diet. A few days after potatoes were dug up from the ground, they began to rot. Over the next ten years more than 750,000 Irish died from the ensuing famine, and another two million left their homeland for Great Britain, Canada and the United States. Within five years, the Irish population was reduced by a quarter.
The inadequacy of relief efforts by the British Government worsened the horrors of the famine. England believed that the free market, left to itself, would end the famine. In 1846, in a victory for advocates of free trade, Britain repealed the Corn Laws, which had protected domestic grain producers from foreign competition. The repeal of the Corn Laws failed to end the crisis since the Irish lacked sufficient money to purchase foreign grain.
Britain began to rely on a system of workhouses, which had originally been established in 1838, to cope with the famine. But these grim institutions had never been intended to deal with a crisis of such enormity. Some 2.6 million Irish entered overcrowded workhouses, where more than 200,000 people died.
8. Invention of the Machine Gun
In 1879, the Gardner Machine Gun was demonstrated for the first time. It could fire ten thousand rounds in twenty-seven minutes, and its accuracy was superior to that of the Gatling gun. This impressed military leaders from Britain, and the following year the British Army purchased the gun.
In 1881, the American inventor Hiram Maxim visited the Paris Electrical Exhibition. While he was at the exhibition a man he met told him “if you wanted to make a lot of money, invent something that will enable the Europeans to cut each other’s throats with greater facility.”
Maxim decided to move to London, and began working on a more effective machine-gun. In 1885, he demonstrated to the British Army the world’s first automatic portable machine gun. Maxim used the energy of each bullet’s recoil force to eject the spent cartridge and insert the next bullet. The Maxim Machine Gun would therefore fire until the entire belt of bullets was used up. Trials showed that the machine gun could fire five hundred rounds per minute, and therefore had the firepower of about one hundred rifles.
The British Army adopted the Maxim Machine Gun in 1889. The following year, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Russia also purchased the gun, causing an arms race on the European continent. The machine gun would haunt the British during the Battle of the Somme, when the British suffered 60,000 casualties on the first day. Since its introduction, the machine gun has caused countless fatalities across the world, and has allowed for more people to be killed within a shorter time span.
7. Atlantic Slave Trade
The British did not start the slave trade or even import the most slaves (both of these dubious distinctions belong to the Portuguese). In the beginning, British traders merely supplied slaves for the Spanish and the Portuguese colonies; but eventually, British slave traders began supplying slaves to the new English colonies in North America. The first record of enslaved Africans landing in British North America occurred in 1619, in the colony of Virginia.
In the 1660s, the number of slaves taken from Africa in British ships averaged 6,700 per year. By the 1760s, Britain was the foremost European country engaged in the slave trade, owning more than fifty percent of the Africans transported from Africa to the Americas. The British involvement in the slave trade lasted from 1562 to until the abolishment of slavery in 180—a period of 245 years. History Professor David Richardson has calculated that British ships carried more than 3.4 million enslaved Africans to the Americas during this time.
In addition to being a major player in the slave trade, the British supported the pro-slavery Confederates during the Civil War. The British needed cotton to fuel their machines; this caused the demand for cotton to skyrocket, which in turn demanded slave labor. If the Confederates had won at the battle of Antietam, the British would have given full support to the rebels, and may even have tipped the Civil War in favor of the Confederates.
And although Great Britain was one of the first nations to abolish slavery, they quickly made up for the loss of human labor by extracting Africa’s raw materials and resources.
6. Opium Wars
Seeing little to gain from trade with European countries, the Chinese Qing emperor permitted Europeans to trade only at the port of Canton, and only through licensed Chinese merchants. For years, foreign merchants accepted Chinese rules—but by 1839 the British, who were the dominant trading group, were ready to flex their muscles.
They had found a drug that the Chinese would buy: opium. Grown legally in British India, opium was smuggled into China, where its use and sale became illegal after the damaging effects it had on the Chinese people.
With its control of the seas, the British easily shut down key Chinese ports and forced the Chinese to negotiate—marking the beginning of what is known as the “one hundred years of humiliation” for the Chinese. Dissatisfied with the resulting agreement, the British sent a second and larger force that took even more coastal cities, including Shanghai. The ensuing Opium War was settled at gunpoint; the resulting Treaty of Nanjing opened five ports to international trade, fixed the tariff on imported goods at five percent, imposed an indemnity of twenty-one million ounces of silver on China to cover Britain’s war expenses, and ceded the island of Hong Kong to Great Britain.
This treaty satisfied neither side. Between 1856 and 1860, Britain and France renewed hostilities with China. Seventeen thousand British and French troops occupied Beijing and set the Imperial Palace on fire. Another round of harsh treaties gave European merchants and missionaries greater privileges, and forced the Chinese to open several more cities to foreign trade.
5. Scramble for Africa
The Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 began the process of carving up Africa, paying no attention to local culture or the differences between ethnic groups, and often leaving people from the same tribe on opposite sides of artificial, European-imposed borders.
Britain was primarily concerned with maintaining its lines of communication with India, hence its interest in Egypt and South Africa. Once these two areas had been secured, imperialists like Cecil Rhodes encouraged the acquisition of further territory, with the goal of establishing a Cape-to-Cairo railway. Britain was also interested in the commercial potential of mineral-rich territories like the Transvaal, where gold was discovered in the mid-1880s.
As a result, during the final twenty years of the nineenth century, Britain occupied or annexed territories which accounted for more than thirty-two percent of Africa’s population, making the British the most dominant Europeans on the continent.
By 1965, Britain had lost its stranglehold on the continent—but the consequences of imperialism were immense. Firstly, the settler states of Kenya, Rhodesia, and South Africa saw many episodes of violence before African nationalists could forge a return to stability, after the departure of the colonial governments. Corrupt African “strongmen,” or dictators, often gained power—despite ignoring the social needs of the people. Economic dependence on the West, coupled with political corruption, crippled attempts to diversify.
Even today, Africa is the least developed region in the world, with poverty and malnutrition running rampant. The idea that Europeans wanted to “civilize” Africa was an utter lie, and a means to justify the exploitation of the continent.
In March 1935, Hitler established a general military draft and declared the “unequal” Versailles Treaty disarmament clauses null and void; some European leaders appeared to understand the danger, and warned him against future aggressive actions.
The emerging united front against Hitler quickly collapsed. Britain adopted a policy of “appeasement,” granting Hitler possibly everything he could want in order to avoid war. The last chance to stop the Nazis without world war came in March 1936, when Hitler suddenly marched his armies into the demilitarized Rhineland, brazenly violating the Treaties of Versailles and Locarno. An uncertain France would not move without British support; and the British refused to act.
The years that followed led to a far stronger Germany. In 1936, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact. At the same time, Germany and Italy intervened in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Their support helped the Spanish fascists defeat Republican Spain. In 1938, Hitler threatened to invade Austria, and thereby forced the Austrian chancellor to put local Nazis in control of the government. The next day, German armies moved in unopposed, and Austria became part of Greater Germany.
Simultaneously, Hitler began demanding that the German-minority area of western Czechoslovakia—called the Sudetenland—be turned over to Germany. In September 1938, British Prime Minister Chamberlain went to Germany to negotiate with the Nazis. The British and French agreed with Hitler that the Sudetenland should be ceded to Germany immediately. Hitler’s armies eventually occupied the remainder of the Czechoslovakia, in 1939. For Hitler everything was set on September 1, 1939, German armies invaded Poland, and Britain and France finally declared war on Germany. The Second World War had begun; in the next six years more than fifty million people would lose their lives.
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3. The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution began in England during the 1780s, and started to influence continental Europe and the rest of the world after 1815. It profoundly modified much of the human experience. It changed the patterns of work, transformed the social class structure, and altered the international balance of political and military power, giving added impetus to the ongoing European expansion into non-European lands. The Industrial Revolution also helped ordinary people attain a higher standard of living. But industrialization would have terrible consequences for much of the world.
Factory owners became very rich during the Industrial Revolution, while factory workers lived in soul-crushing poverty. Cities grew around factories, often rapidly and without proper town-planning. This often meant that there was no sufficient sewage, running water, or sanitation systems. Ironically, “slums” first originated in Britain, where crowded and filthy settlements were breeding grounds for diseases such as cholera. Factory work was difficult and dangerous, with typical shifts lasting between twelve and sixteen hours. Owners hired women and children because they knew they could pay them less; they worked in the same dangerous factories, for the same long hours.
Aside from the way workers were treated, the industrial revolution had many awful long-term consequences. During the twentieth century, thanks in part to the new world system created by the industrial revolution, the world population would take on huge proportions—growing to six billion people just before the start of the twenty-first century (it has now already surpassed seven billion).
That’s a four hundred percent population increase in a single century. This has put severe strain on the resources available on the Earth. It was coal—a fossil fuel—which packed the furnaces of the industrialization that helped propel human progress to extraordinary levels. But of course this came with extraordinary costs for our environment, and to the wellbeing of all living things. The releasing of fossil fuels into the atmosphere has put mankind into a titanic struggle against climate change, global warming, and the threat of extreme weather.
After defeating the Ottoman Empire in World War One, Great Britain did not liberate their Arab allies but instead colonized them. The British received Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq. After centuries of anti-Semitism, many Jews began migrating to their original homeland of Palestine (ancient Judaea), and after the War, these migrations greatly increased. Many British officials, some of whom were also anti-Semitic, wanted to establish a Jewish homeland in the Middle East in order to kick the Jews out of Europe altogether.
The British announced in 1947 their intention to withdraw from Palestine in 1948. On November 1947 the United Nations General Assembly passed a plan to partition Palestine into two separate states—one Arab, and one Jewish. The Jews accepted, but the Arabs rejected the partition. The British officially left on May 14, 1948, without providing a resolution to the situation; that same day the Jews proclaimed the state of Israel. Arab countries immediately attacked the new Jewish state, but the Israelis drove off the invaders and conquered more territory. Roughly nine hundred thousand Arab refugees fled—or were expelled from—old Palestine.
This war left an enormous legacy of Arab bitterness towards Israel and its political allies, Great Britain and the United States. The Arab-Palestinian conflict has provided a deep divide between East and West, and between Christianity and Judaism on the one hand and Islam on the other hand. The modern “War on Terror” stems from the American and Western support of Israel. In addition, Israel has been accused of atrocities ranging from bulldozing Palestinian homes, to acts of terror committed by Mossad, the Israeli CIA.
1. Partition of India
After two centuries of colonialism in India, the British Labour government agreed to a speedy independence of India after 1945. But conflict between Hindu and Muslim nationalists led to murderous clashes between the two communities in 1946. When it became clear that the Muslim League would accept nothing less than an independent Pakistan, India’s last viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, proposed partition. Both sides accepted, and at the “stroke of midnight” on August 14, 1947, one fifth of humanity gained political independence.
Yet independence through partition brought tragedy. In the weeks afterwards, communal strife exploded into an orgy of massacres and mass expulsions. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Muslims were slaughtered, and an estimated five million made refugees. Indian Congress Party leaders were completely powerless to stop the violence. “What is there to celebrate?” exclaimed Gandhi in reference to the much-sought independence; “I see nothing but rivers of blood.” In January 1948, Gandhi himself was gunned down by a Hindu fanatic who believed that he was too lenient on Muslims.
After the ordeal of independence, relations between India and Pakistan remain tense to this day. Fighting over the disputed area of Kashmir continued until 1949, and broke out again in 1965-1966, 1971, and 1999. What makes the Indo-Pakistani conflict even more dangerous is that both sides contain nuclear weapons. With the possibility that Pakistan might become a failed state, there is a good chance of a major genocide erupting in the twenty-first century.