British slave traders forcibly shipped approximately 5.5 million enslaved Africans into their Caribbean colonies over a 180 year period yet when slavery was abolished just 800,000 enslaved people remained. (Beckles)
Economic historian Joseph Inikori has noted that over 41,000 enslaved people were imported into Barbados between 1698 and 1712. Yet the island's slave population in 1712 was 30 less than it was in 1696.
By 1750 around 800,000 enslaved Africans had been imported by Europeans into their slavocracies in the Caribbean, yet their population at that time only stood at approximately 300,000.
In 1788 James Ramsey observed the following in Saint-Domingue (Haiti): “it is remarkable, in the six years preceding 1774, there has been introduced 103,000 African slaves, and 61,728 had been born, making together 164,728; of which in 1774, there remained in all 40,000.”
None of this takes into account the approximately two million lives claimed during the horror of the Middle Passage. For circa *370 years* the high death rate was understood, expected, insured for and built-in to the profit making machine of the transatlantic slave trade.
What Starkey is saying, apart from the explicit racism, is that the transatlantic slave trade was not a genocide because there were survivors. This is of course a nonsensical argument which negates all genocides in history.
The primary intent may have been to transport as many as possible (rather than destroy) but the transatlantic slave trade and the enchattlement that followed in the colonies was nonetheless a genocidal process which fulfils Article II of the Genocide Convention.
Starkey then engages in what can only be described as racial slavery denialism when in his bid to minimise its ongoing legacies (essentially “get over it”) he dishonestly equates abolitionism with Catholic Emancipation. A disgusting and contorted abuse of history.
There is no doubt that one early “beneficiary” of the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829 would have taken issue with this infantile attempt at sophistry if he were still around.
I’m referring to the Irish abolitionist and historian Dr. Richard Robert Madden who left his career as a doctor in London to dedicate a large part of his life to the anti-slavery cause.
He was appointed as a Special Magistrate in Jamaica where he oversaw the abolition of slavery in 1834 and in 1836 he was appointed the Superintendent of Liberated Africans in Cuba. He also submitted vital evidence during the Amistad trial.
Madden noted the immediate legacy of slavery after visiting his great-uncle’s former plantation in Jamaica. There he encountered three women living in a dilapidated house, all former slaves. Two of them resembled family members back home. They were daughters of his great-uncle.
“What bland expressions, what gentle language, what inoffensive terms must be employed when the possibility is to be admitted of men thus leaving their children in actual destitution, and then - remotest kindred perhaps in affluence?”
One final point. This flattening of the abolition of slavery and Catholic emancipation into two model examples of British benevolence erases the limitations and realities of both pieces of legislation. Abolition was delivered via slave owner compensation & forced labour schemes.
Catholic Emancipation was delivered alongside a Disenfranchisement Act which reduced the electoral franchise in Ireland from 216,000 voters to 37,000 ensuring that political power remained almost exclusively in the hands of the wealthy, the landed interests and the merchants.
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