Friday, March 7, 2014

Benguela in the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Benguela [Angola] in the Transatlantic Slave Trade

A 27-year civil war ruined Angola's transport infrastructure

Once a major slave-trading port linking Africa to Brazil, in the 20th Century Benguela became the terminus for the Benguela railway.

In its heyday the railway stretched 1,370km from the nearby port town Lobito to Luau on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. (source: BBC)

An African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World
An African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World: Benguela and its Hinterland, by Mariana Candido

From the University of Chicago International Studies, "Rethinking How Slavery Changed Africa," by Claire Withycombe, on 5 December 2012  --  African Studies Distinguished Lecturer Mariana Candido says the transatlantic slave trade is more important in the history of West Africa than previously thought.

In the coastal city of Benguela, Angola, a stack of concrete triangles is oriented upright, so that the edge of the largest pierces the sky, a stiff geometric contrast to an infinite blue expanse. The assemblage forms a monument to the 1617 arrival of the founder of the Portuguese colony of Benguela, Manuel Ceveira Pereira. Today, it is the only deliberate reminder of the city’s colonial past.

A photograph of the monument figured prominently in Princeton University history professor Mariana Candido’s presentation on the role of Benguela in the transatlantic network, which sought to re-evaluate the popular assertion that the region’s colonial and slave trading past was peripheral to developments in the Atlantic world.

Candido was invited to the University to deliver the first African Studies Distinguished Lecture on November 27th, sponsored by the Committee on African Studies and the Center for International Studies. Her lecture was titled, "Reevaluating the 'Marginal Institution': The Role of Benguela, Angola in the Transatlantic Slave Trade."

In Candido’s view, the Pereira monument denotes a critical gap in the historiography of West Central Africa. “The history of slavery is central to understanding the history of this region,” she said.

While past scholars and contemporary colleagues have emphasized continuity and stability in the period extending from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, Candido argued that documents from Benguela demonstrate that the slave trade undeniably and irreversibly changed many dimensions of life in West Central Africa.

Candido explained that because of the “pressures of the Atlantic economy...people migrated from the coast into the interior.” The growing commerce in slaves “shifted the trade roots, affected agricultural production and the local diet, and favored the spread of slave routes, as well as led to the collapse of old states and emergence of new ones,” she said.

Documentation that Candido unearthed regarding slaves in the U.S., Brazil, and elsewhere further connects the city to developments beyond its shores, she said, and demonstrates the “importance of incorporating research on the African diaspora to understand changes that took place in the African continent before the twentieth century.”

Okay, this photo has NOTHING to do with the subject, but I found it to be a very humorous image from Benguela, Angola. (source:  MARIÁ F. MARTINS - PRONTO PARA FAZER UM CABRITE EM BENGUELA - ANGOLA)

Portuguese colonizers introduced a variety of important transformative measures, including creation of colonial bureaucracy, religious conversions, and the forced signage of vassalage treaties which required African rulers to accept “a series of obligations such as payment of tribute and adoption of Christianity,” Candido said.

In a question-and-answer session that followed the lecture, Candido addressed audience members’s questions about gender relations during the colonial period, the significance of road construction under colonial rule, and the broader theological justification of Portuguese colonization.  (source:  University of Chicago International Studies)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Slave Angélique and The Burning of Montreal

This is an French to English translation from the Africa Record's Nerrati-Press Network, in an article entitled, "Angelica: The Killing Of A Black Slave In New France (Currently Quebec, Canada)," by Lencrenoir, on 4 June 2013 --  Angélique was born in Portugal, which was a major player in the lucrative Atlantic slave trade, and was then sold to a man named Flemish Block Nichus or Nicolas Bleeker which led to the New World. She lived in New England before being sold in 1725 to a major French businessman Montreal named François Poulin de Francheville , and after his death in 1733 , it belonged to his wife Teresa of Couagne .

Slavery in New England and New France was essentially domestic, as opposed to the southern part of what became the United States economy n 'was not based on the work of large-scale planting. Angélique has therefore worked at home Francheville in Montreal, and sometimes helped the small family farm on the island of Montreal, which was mainly used to produce goods for commercial expeditions family Francheville.

Angélique had three children in Montreal: A boy born in 1731 who lived only a month and a twin in 1732 , both died within five months after their births. Recorded in official documents Baptism father was Jacques César , a black slave who belonged to Madagascar Ignace Gamelin , a friend of Francheville. It is not known if Angelique and Jacques were lovers by choice or if their owners were forced to reproduce.

During the year preceding the fire and the trial, Angélique became involved in a relationship with Claude Thibault , a white indentured servant, who was employed by the Francheville . Following the death of Mr. Francheville in November 1733 , the operation of its business and succession occupy much time Ms. Francheville . In early 1734 , being taken by real estate business in Trois-Rivières, the widow asked his brother Alexis Monière keep his slave and servant for her until her return.

On 22 February 1734 , while the widow was still far away, Angelique and Claude tried to flee to New England, the frozen St. Lawrence River. They stopped to retrieve a bread Claude Thibault had hidden in a barn in Longueuil in preparation for their getaway. However, the cold Canadian forced the two men to take refuge in Châteauguay, near the road to Chambly up that the weather improves. They were captured a few weeks later and returned to Montreal by three militiamen . Thibault was jailed on 05 March 1734 and released on 08 April 1734 , the day of the fire that burned down a large part of the young city of Montreal. Angelica visited him several times while he was in prison and he brought something to eat.

The Hanging of Angélique

As for the latter, it was simply given to Madame de Francheville without being disciplined in any manner whatsoever, for his attempt to escape. Maybe because that was already expected to sell. As mentioned at the trial, Thérèse Francheville found itself unable to control Angélique and intention to accept an offer made ​​by one of the partners of her late husband, François-Étienne Cugnet : 600 pounds of gunpowder cannon. The offer was conditional upon the widow covers shipping 's Angélique to Quebec, where Cugnet lived. The fear of being sold and eventually end up in the Caribbean was perhaps the reason for the attempted escape.

Tensions were high between the slave and his mistress. Widow Francheville fired a free maid, Louise Poirier , due to quarrels and discord between the slave and servant. Angelica promised her that she could possibly do the job better than Louise Poirier, hoping that a good performance on his part would bend and keep his mistress. The widow agreed, but promised Louise that she would contact her from the start 'of Angélique to Quebec City. After his release, Thibault , visited Madame de Couagne to claim his salary. The woman called and warned Thibault never set foot in his house. Angry, she also confirmed it that Angelica had been sold and would be sent to Quebec as soon as the ice would base.

Claude Thibault ignore this order and Angélique visits several times during the absence of the widow Couagne. It was the beginning of April 1734 . They both knew that the St. Lawrence River would soon again passable for ships, and that Angélique would no longer be in Montreal for a long time. Angelica promises to be a servant to his intention to run again. It is possible that they conspired to set fire to cover their escape. On the evening of April 10, 1734 , while slavery was to the Church, Angelica shouts " Fire ! "Heard the neighbors try to extinguish the fire, but it spread rapidly and within three hours, 46 buildings were destroyed, including a large part of the market sector, along the Rue St. Paul, as well as hospital and convent of Hotel-Dieu. No one was injured in the fire. As Angélique and Thibault helped save property houses burned, rumors began circulating accusing fired.

The origin of the word seems to have been the observations made ​​by Marie-Manon , a slave owned by the neighbors of Mrs. De Couagne the Berey of Essars . When the fire was extinguished, the popular opinion was that Angelica had fired. She was arrested the next morning. An arrest warrant was also issued later Thibault , but although it was seen again on Tuesday morning after the fire ( two days later ), when bailiffs set out its mandate to arrest, he had disappeared and has never been seen in New France.
Angélique was charged and tried. French law at the time allowed a suspect to be arrested on " rumor "when the community decided that a suspect is guilty. Over the next six weeks, the prosecution called a number of witnesses. No witnesses saw Angélique fire, but they all said that they were certain that it did.
They testified at length the character 'of Angélique . They say it is a slave who misbehaves, who often meets his mistress. However, no solid evidence has been presented as to his guilt. Frustrated by the lack of evidence to convict Angélique, further considering applying torture before making the final judgment, which was rarely allowed in very unusual procedure . New France Unfortunately, Angelica , an eyewitness suddenly tip: A girl of five years , named Amable. The child's testimony that she saw Angelique , carrying a shovelful of coal in the attic of the house in the afternoon when the fire started.

This is all you need as proof to allow the prosecutor to close his business. The judge and four commissioners asked to take part in the award, all agreed that Angelica was guilty. Ms. Denyse Beaugrand-Champagne , author says that nobody wondered why it took so long for the small Amable occurs in a city where the fire and the trial were known. She attributes this sudden willingness of the girl the fact that too many people had lost much in the fire and a scapegoat was needed.  (source: text TRANSLATED French to English from the website: Africa Record, Nerrati-Press Network)  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Canada’s Forgotten Slaves

From the Globe and Mail, "200 years a slave: the dark history of captivity in Canada," by Robert Everett-Green, on 28 February 2014 -- Canadians appalled by the violence in the Oscar-nominated film 12 Years a Slave probably also feel proud that the carpenter who helps Solomon Northup regain his freedom is Canadian (and played by Brad Pitt). We’ve all heard that Canada’s only role in the slave trade was to hasten its end; but long before the underground railroad got started, colonial Canada was a safe place to buy, sell and own slaves.

For about two centuries, slavery was legal in New France, and in Lower Canada under British rule. Captive human beings were owned by people from almost every level of society, including governors, bishops, military officers, merchants, priests, blacksmiths and tailors. James McGill, founder of McGill University, had slaves. So did Marguerite d’Youville, the Grey Nuns founder who was canonized in 1990.

Canada’s Forgotten Slaves: Two Hundred Years of Bondage; by Quebec historian Marcel Trudel 

The shocking details are all laid out in a book by Quebec historian Marcel Trudel that has just appeared in an English-language paperback as Canada’s Forgotten Slaves: Two Hundred Years of Bondage. Mr. Trudel, who died in 2011, shreds our national myth about slavery by naming hundreds of eminent and ordinary Quebeckers who were eager to get slaves and proud to flaunt them before their neighbours. People went into debt to buy them.

“Slavery in Quebec was not some economic imperative, but rather a form of public extravagance which conferred prestige,” Mr. Trudel writes. In 18th-century Quebec, whose boundaries reached into parts of what is now the United States, a slave was a status symbol, more often found in town than in the country, more likely to be a domestic servant than a field labourer.

Mr. Trudel provoked a scandal in Quebec in 1960 when he first published his revelations as L’esclavage au Canada français. Generations of historians and church leaders had nurtured the myth that slavery, if it had existed at all, had been imported into the province by the English after the conquest of 1760. In fact, 85 per cent of Mr. Trudel’s confirmed owners were francophones, and the Quebec slave trade was well established before Wolfe met Montcalm. Nobody could refute Mr. Trudel’s careful research, so he was ostracized professionally, and in 1965 left his post at the University of Laval for a less frosty berth at the University of Ottawa.


The number of slaves Mr. Trudel could confirm from archival records was relatively small – about 4,200 in all, compared with the 250,000 who toiled in the French West Indies in the mid-1700s. Canadians never knew slavery on an industrial scale, only because they never convinced big-time slave traders that it was worth sending African slaves on the longer shipping route to Montreal or Quebec City.

Many in Quebec had to be content with captives stolen or bought from indigenous peoples, some of whom practiced slavery before the Europeans arrived. About two-thirds of the slaves in Quebec were native people, mostly from the Pawnee nations of modern-day Nebraska, whose French Canadian name – Panis – became a synonym for an indigenous slave of any origin. Black slaves were known as bois d’ébène (ebony wood), or pièce d’Inde if they were in prime condition. Blacks, being harder to get, were about double the cost of indigenous merchandise. Slaves of all kinds were sold at auctions and advertised in newspapers, including the Montreal Gazette, which had slaves in its print shop.

The legal and religious basis of the enterprise was conflicted. Louis XIV granted a petition to permit slave ownership in New France in 1689, even though it was not allowed in France. The church insisted on baptism and Christian burial for slaves, but ignored Pope Paul III’s 1537 decree that indigenous peoples in the Americas should not be enslaved “in any way.” Many major religious orders in colonial Quebec, including the Jesuits, owned slaves. Marguerite d’Youville was even taken to court by a Montreal doctor who claimed she had, in the night, spirited away a Panis that belonged to him (the trial’s outcome was not recorded).

The House of Assembly in Lower Canada dithered for years in the late 1700s over motions to abolish slavery, probably because several members would have been directly inconvenienced. But the last recorded slave sale in Quebec occurred in 1797, and Britain abolished slavery in most of its empire in 1833, just as traffic on the underground railroad to Canada was nearing its peak.

In the decades since Mr. Trudel’s book first appeared, a secular form of Quebec nationalism has found its own reasons to forget the province’s slave-trading history. Montreal historian and journalist George Tombs, translator of the revised edition of Mr. Trudel’s book into English, got a good demonstration of the new amnesia when he mentioned his project to an acquaintance who happened to be a former Parti Québécois cabinet minister.

“He got quite annoyed, and said ‘You shouldn’t be translating that book!’” Mr. Tombs recalls. “His problem basically was that it would give a bad image of Quebec. Pauline Marois has been saying that we have to make sure that everyone knows national history, but there’s a big part of national history they’re not going to learn.”

That doesn’t explain why Mr. Trudel’s pioneering book had to wait more than 50 years to become available in English. Mr. Tombs says it’s partly because Canadians are accustomed to getting our history “in little bits and pieces, depending on which region the historian is from and which political agenda the historian is pursuing.”

Several historians have written more recent papers and books that focus narrowly on slavery in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Upper Canada, where loyalists from the American colonies often arrived with their human chattels. What’s still needed, Mr. Tombs says, is a broader telling of the Canadian slavery story that we can all come to grips with. If, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, Canadians need to know their history better, they should know the bad bits, too. (source: The Canadian Globe and Mail)


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