Did you know that more Irish slaves were sold in the 17th century than black slaves? With a staggering death rate between 37% to 50%, this is the story the history books will not tell you.
The first slaves imported into the American colonies were 100 White children. They arrived during Easter, 1619, four months before the arrival of a the first shipment of Black slaves.Mainstream histories refer to these laborers as indentured servants, not slaves, because many agreed to work for a set period of time in exchange for land and rights.
Yet in reality, indenture was enslavement, since slavery applies to any person who is bought and sold, chained and abused, whether for a decade or a lifetime. Many white people died long before their indenture ended or found that no court would back them when their owners failed to deliver on promises.Tens of thousands of convicts, beggars, homeless children and other undesirable English, Scottish, and Irish lower class were transported to America against their will to the Americas on slave ships. YES SLAVE SHIPS.
Many of the white slaves were brought from Ireland, where the law held that it was ?no more sin to kill an Irishman than a dog or any other brute.? The European rich class caused a lot of suffering to these people , even if they were white like them.In 1676, there was a huge slave rebellion in Virginia. Black and white slaves burned Jamestown to the ground. Hundreds died. The planters feared a re-occurence. Their solution was to divide the races against each other. They instilled a sense of superiority in the white slaves and degraded the black slaves. White slaves were given new rights; their masters could not whip them naked without a court order,etc. White slaves whose daily condition was no different from that of Blacks, were taught that they belonged to a superior people. The races were given different clothing. Living quarters were segregated for the first time. But the whites were still slaves.
Typical death rates on the ships were from 37% to 50%. In the West Indies, the African and Irish slaves were housed together, but because the African slaves were much more costly, they were treated much better than the Irish slaves. Also, the Irish were Catholic, and Papists were hated among the Protestant planters. An Irish slave would endure such treatment as having his hands and feet set on fire or being strung up and beaten for even a small infraction. Richard Ligon, who witnessed these things first-hand and recorded them in a history of Barbados he published in 1657, stated:”Truly, I have seen cruelty there done to servants as I did not think one Christian could have done to another.”(5)According to Sean O’Callahan, in To Hell or Barbados, Irish men and women were inspected like cattle there, just as the Africans were.
Flogging was common, and most slave owners did not really care if they killed an easily replaceable, cheap Irish slave.While most of these slaves who survived were eventually freed after their time of service was completed, many leaving the islands for the American colonies, many were not, and the planters found another way to insure a free supply of valuable slaves. They were quick to “find solace” and start breeding with the Irish slave women. Many of them were very pretty, but more than that, while most of the Irish were sold for only a period of service, usually about 10 years assuming they survived, their children were born slaves for life.
The planters knew that most of the mothers would remain in servitude to remain with their children even after their service was technically up.The planters also began to breed the Irish women with the African male slaves to make lighter skinned slaves, because the lighter skinned slaves were more desirable and could be sold for more money. A law was passed against this practice in 1681, not for moral reasons but because the practice was causing the Royal African Company to lose money. According to James F. Cavanaugh, this company, sent 249 shiploads of slaves to the West Indies in the 1680’s, a total of 60,000 African and Irish, 14,000 of whom died in passage.(7)While the trade in Irish slaves tapered off after the defeat of King James in 1691, England once again shipped out thousands of Irish prisoners who were taken after the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
These prisoners were shipped to America and to Australia, specifically to be sold as slaves.No Irish slave shipped to the West Indies or America has ever been known to have returned to Ireland. Many died, either in passage or from abuse or overwork. Others won their freedom and emigrated to the American colonies. Still others remained in the West Indies, which still contain an population of “Black Irish,” many the descendents of the children of black slaves and Irish slaves.In 1688, the first woman killed in Cotton Mather’s witch trials in Massachusetts was an old Irish woman named Anne Glover, who had been captured and sold as a slave in 1650.
She spoke no English. She could recite The Lord’s Prayer in Gaelic and Latin, but without English, Mather decided her Gaelic was discourse with the devil, and hung her.It was not until 1839 that a law was passed in England ending the slave trade, and thus the trade in Irish slaves.It is unfortunate that, while the descendents of black slaves have kept their history alive and not allowed their atrocity to be forgotten, the Irish heritage of slavery in America and the West Indies has been largely ignored or forgotten.
This article was originally published in 2014 and is frequently updated
TAP – White slavery was common during history. The Knights Templar kept white slaves, as did their Moslem opponents. The practice after winning a battle was to slaughter all those except the ones selected to become slaves. The thing that never gets mentioned is that Christianity, a religion created by Rome in the 1st Century AD as a regional control device, and only much later adopted Empire-wide, doesn’t question the existence of slavery or suggest it is wrong in any way. Is that why the facts about slavery have to be erased from history? The truth can never be allowed to spill out, or the Church would be finished.
The Forgotten “White” Slaves! – The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves 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.