IRISH SLAVES UNTOLD STORY IN AMERICAN HISTORY BOOKS
By Maryann Barry
I write the following article not to pull away from the atrocities suffered by the Native Americans, African Americans or Mexican Americans, but to shed light on the white slaves of America that I never knew existed.
The wealthy English tried for centuries to eliminate the Irish Race or perform ethnic cleansing but never succeeded. On top of the wrong doings, this history was eliminated in American history books at the time I attended school. In my opinion I think Oliver Cromwell was another Hitler but more of that for another post.
There were Irish slaves in America as far back at the 1640. England used it as a way to rid the country of a lower class disturbing their lives. Irish were rounded up sent to America on slave market profitable to England. Many would like to say they were indentured servants but history states the facts.
In 1662-1665 judges of Edinburg Scotland ordered the enslavement and shipment of a large number of rogues and others that interrupted the lives of the upper class; in other words, to clear the streets of Edinburg of the poor starving hungry souls living in the streets. They didn’t want to deal with them so shipped them out. Irish were sold into slavery during Colonial America. Another reason there was money to be made in the slave trade. Laws were made (Enactment of 1652) if anyone found begging or vagrant could be arrested as political prisoners and moved to any port that shipped them to foreign colonies or plantations to be sold.
This same practice was a part of England’s history. King James II, and Charles I, and Oliver Cromwell were all a part of an effort to rid England of the Irish and also found a profitable slave trade. The English kidnapped people from Ireland and shipped them off to the colonies of the New World. Ireland soon fell prey to the English slave markets. The Irish human beings became a lucrative source of human livestock for English merchants. The bulk of early slaves to the New World were actually white.
In King James II Proclamation of 1625, required Irish political prisoners sold to English settlers in the West Indies of which 30,000 were shipped out. This was the beginning and soon spread to the New World. An arrest could be made of minor violations or what the English took as a violation and a person became a political prisoner.
In 1642 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the upper class English, and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. During that single decade Ireland’s population dropped for 1,500,000 to 600,000. Because the men were separated from their families, this left women and children homeless and prey to be auctioned off as well. In 1650’s over 100,000 Irish Children ages 10 to 14 were sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In addition, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. In 1656, Cromwell ordered 20,000 Irish children sent to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English Settlers. (If lower class Englishmen happened to be in the wrong place or insulted the wrong person they suffered the same fate.)
The African slaves were expensive in late 1600’s and Irish Slaves came cheap. There was a difference of 50 sterling for blacks to 5 sterling for Irish. Therefore, if a planter whipped an Irish slave to death it was cheaper than an African slave. In one case a traveler on ship saw black slaves throwing cotton bales down to white slaves. When asked why was told if a white slave broke his back or got killed wasn’t as much money loss as a black slave.
In the New World another way they gained profit was to breed an Irish female with an African slave “mulatto”– it cut down on expense of buying more slaves. The mulatto slaves sold for a better price than the Irish ones; considered tainted with the stain of hated Catholic theology. In 1681 legislation was passed to stop the interbreeding; not for humane reasons, but it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.
England continued the shipment of tens of thousands Irish slaves for more than a century. After the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland thousands were sold to America and Australia. They suffered great atrocities of shackled in over crowed diseased ships, (many didn’t survive the voyage) beat or worked to death, raped or burned alive (tied to the ground feet set on fire and slowly died a dead from hell). In one case an English ship threw 1,302 overboard to have enough food for the crew to survive. Women were subject to slave breeding. The Slave Trade act 1807 passed by British Parliament stopped the slave trade from England. (Note the U. S. Congress north and south including President Thomas Jefferson supported the act.); thus creating a limited supply of slaves. Women held captive in slave breeding houses, were chained to the floor and subjected to rape by other slaves (ordered by the slave owners) or the masters themselves.
One theory the white slave trade laid the groundwork for the organized process of African American Slave Trade.
Many would like it if this history vanished from the face of the earth but thanks to the many that preserve records and via the internet there is an enlightenment for all to experience. Hopefully in our day and age people will attempt to create peace for all races as in God’s eyes all are equal. Bottom line human’s instinctual defects of greed, wealth, and power are the contributions that feed to this oppression of a human race.