Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Zealand's slaving history


[This post is a sort of successor to my discussion of the white headhunters of the 1860s and '70s...]

Murray Deaker’s recent use of the phrase ‘working like a nigger’ on Sky Television won him many detractors and a few defenders. The Race Relations Conciliator and a slew of media commentators have damned Deaker for using the phrase; Michael Laws and a few other inveterate opponents of the nebulous but sinister phenomenon of ‘political correctness’ have presented the sports show host as a sort of martyr to homespun plainspeak.

It is interesting how both critics and defenders of Deaker have assumed that the phrase 'working like a nigger' is drawn from a context very foreign to New Zealand. They have associated the phrase with slavery in America, and have either insinuated or openly assert that slavery is something quite alien to New Zealand history. Deaker's critics charge him with importing an unsavoury saying that could damage race relations in this part of the world; Deaker's defenders ask why we should be offended by a phrase with no real relation to our society.

The fact is, though, that many New Zealanders were engaged in a Pacific slave trade years after the abolition of slavery in the United States. In the 1860s and 1870s, at least thirty-two New Zealand vessels carried slave labour from various Pacific islands to plantations and farms in places like Fiji, Queensland, Samoa, and Tahiti. New Zealand's involvement in slavery eventually prompted mass public protest meetings in our major towns and cities and legislation from our House of Representatives. Yet the memory of the Pacific slave trade and New Zealand's involvement with it has been almost erased from our national consciousness.

Even in the 1860s and '70s, when it was impossible to ignore slaving in the Pacific, Kiwis took a curiously schizophrenic attitude towards the trade, condemning it and simultaneously denying the seriousness of their nation's involvement with it. To understand this attitude we have to understand the ideology which white settlers brought to this country in the middle decades of the nineteenth century.

For the mass of ordinary settlers and for much of the colony's political and economic elite, New Zealand was a blessed country, where a benign climate and rich soils would enable the building of a nation of prosperous small farmers and tradesmen. New Zealand would become a farm for the world and a jewel of the British Empire, a place where even men and women of humble birth could achieve economic independence on plots of their own land. The country would be a sort of yeoman’s utopia.

The belief in New Zealand's glorious future was often tied up with an antipathy towards both European rivals to the British Empire and the indigenous peoples of the Pacific. As Angus Ross showed in his excellent book New Zealand Aspirations in the Pacific in the Nineteenth Century, Kiwi newspapers and politicians liked to counterpose the British Empire's supposed love for liberty, fairness, and small farming with the superexploitative 'plantation capitalism' that the French and German Empires were allegedly introducing to the Pacific, and to the barbarous pre-capitalist societies of Polynesian and Melanesian peoples. New Zealand colonial governments frequently urged a reluctant Britain to annex nations like Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga, and thereby ‘save’ them from both native backwardness and the threat from oppressive continental European plantation owners.

From the start, the ideology of the settlers was out of tune with reality. The isolation of the new country, the lack of a decent transport infrastructure, and the awkward presence of an indigenous people made the dream of plenty hard to achieve. Even after the conquest of much Maori land the colony struggled economically. At first a series of gold rushes and the whaling and sealing industries swallowed up some of the thousands of frustrated men who had been unable to make a living, let alone a profit, from farming. By the 1860s, though, the gold rushes were over and whaling and sealing were in decline.

At the same that New Zealand was facing an economic crisis, other colonial projects in the South Pacific were suddenly looking very promising. In Queensland, which was a self-governing British colony, and in Fiji, which had no coherent government but did have an aggressive and steadily increasing white population, settlers were beginning to grow large quantities of cotton and sugar in response to the global shortage of those crops created by the American Civil War and its aftermath.

As prices for sugar and cotton went higher and higher and production expanded faster and faster, growers began to employ the services of so-called 'labour recruiters', popularly known as 'blackbirders', who unloaded cargoes of men, women, and children at ports like Levuka and Mackay and offered them for sale. Many of the blackbirders were former sealers and whalers; others were farmers or tradesmen who had fallen on hard times. A blackbirder could commonly sell a man or an attractive woman for between nine and thirteen pounds to a plantation owner; children generally fetched about five pounds.

Polynesia and Micronesia were initially favoured by the blackbirders, but the New Hebrides and Solomons had become more popular hunting grounds. The isolation and relative size of these islands and the disunity of their populations made them especially vulnerable.

The blackbirders used a variety of tactics to acquire their cargoes: sometimes they would lure islanders on board their vessels with the promise of trade, and then put them in chains; sometimes they would raid islands and take captives at the point of a gun; on other occasions they would use deceit, promising to ferry islanders to some destination, or to employ them for a brief period for good pay, or to take them to a missionary station. On larger Melanesian islands like Malaita in the Solomons and Efate in the New Hebrides, coastal tribes were sometimes paid to hunt down and deliver labourers from inland tribes.

Blackbirders commonly claimed that their captives had agreed to labour on a plantation for a certain number of years, and sometimes they produced contracts to support these claims. While a few islanders undoubtedly went willingly aboard the blackbirders' boats, out of a desire for adventure or Western goods, few of them could have understood the details of what awaited them. Coley Patteson, the first Anglican Bishop of Melanesia and a relentless campaigner against blackbirding, ridiculed the notion that islanders had signed fair contracts with the blackbirders, telling the New Zealand government that:

I do not believe that it is possible for any of these traders to make a bona fide contract with any of the natives of the northern New Hebrides, Banks and Solomon Islands. I doubt if any one of these traders can speak half a dozen words in any one of the dialects of those Islands; and I am sure that the very idea of a contract cannot be made with a native of those islands without a full power of communicating readily with him. More than ten natives of Mota Island have now been absent nearly three years. The trader made a contract with them by holding up three fingers. They thought that three suns or moons were signified. Probably he was very willing that they should think so, but he thought of three years.

After being delivered to a plantation, a blackbirded islander could in theory expect to work for three to five years for six days a week before being handed a tiny sum of money - ten pounds was a typical figure - and being sent home on a ship. In practice, many labourers died of neglect or overwork before finishing their contracts. Those who lived long enough to leave their plantations were often placed on a ship and dropped on the nearest convenient island, where they faced being ostracised or killed by locals. Labourers who deserted their plantations were hunted down and beaten.

By the end of the 1860s at least fifty ships were working full-time to supply the plantations of Queensland and Fiji with labourers. In addition, a handful of ships supplied labour to the smaller cotton farms which had been established in Tahiti and on Samoa. In 1870 the little island of Fortuna in the New Hebrides alone received more than forty different visits from blackbirders, and lost nearly half its population of nine hundred. In an account of blackbirding published in 1888, WB Churchward described the devastation that the trade brought to one island:

After travelling about two miles, we came right in front of a long clearing, and sticking out of it were a lot of what we took to be black poles. The skipper, as soon as we saw them, swore worse than ever, and said "We'll get no men in this place; somebody has been here before us'...there was an awful stink, which grew stronger and stronger...Here, there, and everywhere - in twos and three, and bunches, with limbs all twisted and stiffened, blocked and blistered, in the scorching sun - were the bodies of a lot of natives, men, women, and children...In the middle of them was a drove of wild pigs, scarcely able to move after their horrible feast. I began to think I had had quite enough of blackbirding...

Coley Patteson quickly noticed the effects of blackbirding on Melanesia. The Bishop had once been welcomed by large peaceful crowds on his journeys through the islands, but after the beginning of large-scale blackbirding he found shorelines and villages suddenly deserted. When Patteson did make contact with islanders, he frequently found them hostile; not unreasonably, they associated all white men with blackbirding.

By the end of the 1870s Queensland, with its huge sugar and cotton plantations worked by imported blacks, had earned the nickname 'the second Louisiana'. The similarities between the vanquished American Confederacy and the colonial plantations of the South Pacific were not entirely coincidental. After the defeat of the Confederate army and the emancipation of southern slaves in 1865, plantation owners in the south faced ruin. Thousands of them fled to Mexico, South America, and the Pacific and sought to recreate the society they had lost. By the end of the 1860s more than two hundred Americans were living in Fiji; many of them were ex-Confederate cotton farmers. Other former Confederates became blackbirders.

James T Proctor was typical of the ex-Confederates who shifted operations to the South Pacific in the late 1860s and early 1870s. A nephew of the famous Civil War general PGT Bureauregard, Proctor lost one of his legs in a battle with the Yankees, and later lost all of the two hundred and twenty slaves who worked his Louisiana sugar plantation. These injuries did not stop him setting up a cotton plantation in Fiji and leading blackbirding raids on the New Hebrides.

In his book The White Pacific the African American scholar Gerald Horne describes how Proctor and other ex-Confederates established a section of the Ku Klux Klan in Fiji, and used the organisation to terrorise indigenous Fijians and agitate for the American annexation of the islands. The Klan soon won the support not only of Americans but of the many Australian, New Zealand, and English settlers in Fiji. But men like Proctor can hardly be blamed for the whole of the Pacific slave trade: along with the Australian colonies, New Zealand was deeply involved from an early stage. At the end of 1868 John Thurston, the British Consul in Fiji, wrote to Wellington to report that nine New Zealand ships had recently called there with human cargoes. A year later Thurston's successor, Edward March, provided details of another seven blackbirders' vessels active in Fiji. March noted that the number of blackbirders in Fiji was increasing in 'proportion to the steady arrival of settlers'.

At first relatively small ships - cutters, and ketches, and schooners - from New Zealand's more northerly ports made up the bulk of the Kiwi blackbirding fleet, but as time went on, and the profits to be made from the trade in humans became clear, businessmen from New Zealand's wealthy south funded larger ships. In 1871 JR MacKenzie, one of the richest men in Dunedin, launched a steamship called the Wainui, which was soon busy 'recruiting' labour in Melanesia.

Although missionaries like Coley Patteson produced detailed exposes of the trade, governments in Wellington were at first very reluctant to take any sort of action against blackbirding. Frustrated by their own failure to create prosperity in New Zealand, the country's political elite hoped that the sugar and cotton booms in Queensland and Fiji would spread. Auckland might become a profitable 'depot' for Fijian exports destined for Europe, and the newly-wealthy planters of Fiji and Queensland might import large quantities of consumer goods from New Zealand.

New Zealand's involvement in blackbirding was a reflection of the failure of the promise which lured so many settlers to the country. Men who had dreamed of winning their own economic freedom in a new country were instead enslaving and transporting Pacific islanders; shipowners who might have expected to export wool or beef found a different product to move.

In May 1870 the slave trade reached the shores of New Zealand, as the schooner Lulu arrived in Auckland with a cargo of twenty-seven men from the New Hebridean island of Efate. In an account of his blackbirding expedition published in several newspapers, the Lulu's captain noted that the many of the New Hebrideans were 'timid and distrustful' or else openly 'hostile', and revealed that he had paid 'douceurs' (bribes) to chiefs to help acquire labourers. The Lulu's mission had been organised by Edward Brissenden, a wealthy Auckland businessman who wanted to cheap labour for a flax mill he co-owned in Waitakere. Brissenden's 'contract' promised his labourers ten pounds each for three years' work.

In an editorial that mixed sympathy with condescension, the New Zealand Herald described the arrival of the labourers from Efate, and noted that 'these niggers are at present entirely in the hands' of their 'importers'. 'Experience and common sense should tell us', the Herald said, that 'the niggers' were not in New Zealand voluntarily.

In 1872, after blackbirding had become a political issue, the New Zealand government sent a policeman to report on the situation of the men from Efate. Constable JB Thomson discovered that the labourers had worked for a while at the mill in Waitakere and then been split up, with some of them being sent to a flax mill at the Hokianga harbour heads and others being sent first to a mill in Thames and then to work on estates in Kohimarama and Epsom. Thomson recorded that one of the men had died, and noted that the others were unhappy about their long stay in New Zealand:

They assert, and in this they are unanimous, that…they were to be engaged for one year only, for which they were to receive a musket and ammunition, a tomahawk, a knife and blankets, and at the end of that time were to be returned to Efate…They brought to me a notched stick, on which they had recorded the number of months (lunar) they had served, and upon counting the notches I found their calculations to be twenty-three months.

By 1871 blackbirding had brought chaos to large parts of the western Pacific. Across the New Hebrides and the Solomons, missionaries, whalers and legitimate traders as well as blackbirders were being attacked by peoples angry at the depopulation of their islands. Fiji was in a state of war, as islanders tired of the expropriation of land by cotton and sugar growers and the arrival of more and more outsiders took up arms against the white settlers, and the Ku Klux Klan responded with atrocities.

In September 1871 Coley Patteson and two of his staff were killed on Nukapu Island in the Solomons. The master of the bishop's ship The Southern Cross blamed the slayings on the Wainui, which had allegedly raided Nukapu and taken several islanders away by force shortly before Patteson's arrival. Another New Zealand ship, the Nukulau, was also suspected of raiding Nukapu in 1871.

Patteson's death received enormous publicity, and made blackbirding into an important issue in New Zealand. Large crowds attended memorial services up and down the country, and a particularly large gathering in Auckland, the city where Patteson had begun his missionary work, produced a resolution:

That this meeting is impressed with the conviction that the death of Bishop Patteson and the Rev J Atkin is attributable to the so-called labour-trade carried on by British subjects and others in the Islands of the South Pacific, and respectfully urges the Imperial Government to take measures in concert with the Australian and New Zealand Governments to place that trade under effective control.

There was a curious quality to the sudden outcry against slavery. Newspapers condemned the 'labour trade' at length, but usually avoided discussion of New Zealand's involvement in the phenomenon. Instead of connecting the trade to British imperialism and its ideology of racial superiority, the media and public called for the elimination of blackbirding through the expansion of British imperial power and New Zealand colonial authority. The annexation of Melanesia and Polynesia by Britain and New Zealand was held up as the best way to 'protect' the peoples of those regions.

New Zealand's deep involvement with blackbirding completely contradicted the ideology of progressive imperialism which had legitimated, in the eyes of both the colony's elite and its ordinary citizens, the dispossession of the Maori and the establishment of a settler nation. For that reason it had to be denied.

In November 1871 both houses of New Zealand's parliament passed resolutions mourning Patteson, and urging Britain to take action against blackbirding. London responded the following year with the Pacific Islanders Protection Act, which made ships registered in Britain or British colonies legally liable for kidnappings and other abuses committed outside the borders of the empire. In the aftermath of Patteson's death Britain also gave colonial governors the power to license the 'labour trade'.

The reforms of 1872 institutionalised rather than abolished blackbirding. Although armed raids on islands by blackbirders became less common, labour was still often acquired through duplicity, and labourers were still paid virtually nothing for years of work. New Zealand ships still took part in the trade, though in smaller numbers than before. In a report for the Queensland government in 1882, Commodore JC Wilson of the British navy listed six ships licensed to carry human cargo by the New Zealand government between 1772 and 1881.

Finally, in the 1890s, the Liberal governments of John Ballance and Dick Seddon ended New Zealand's involvement in blackbirding. In an 1898 despatch to the British Colonial Office, Governor Ranfurly explained that the Seddon government regarded 'the labour traffic' as 'debasing' and believed that it was 'depopulating...many of the islands'.

Despite the example of Edward Brissenden, New Zealand employers never resorted to the use of blackbirded labour in any quantity. Their reluctance to employ the services of 'labour recruiters' may have had less to do with moral scruples than with the fact that a large pool of very cheap local labour became available to them in the 1860s and '70s. Dispossessed of much of their best land by postwar confiscations and then the mendacities of the native Land Court, many Maori suddenly found themselves obliged to work for Pakeha farmers and businessmen. Because they usually still had access to enough land to provide them with a subsistence living, Maori could be made to work for sub-starvation wages on tasks like roadbuilding, scrubclearing, fencing, and logging. When the advent of refrigerated shipping made the export of beef and lamb to Britain possible in the 1880s, Pakeha farmers and businessmen had a continuous supply of super-cheap labour to exploit. A modified form of 'plantation capitalism' came to New Zealand.

The shallowness of the debate which has followed Murray Deaker’s recent faux pas is a symptom of the continued forgetfulness of Pakeha New Zealanders about their country’s role in the nineteenth century slave trade. We continue to repress this part of our past because we continue to hold on to the illusion that our country is somehow different from and more civilised than others. The evidence suggests otherwise.

[Posted by Maps]

44 Comments:

Anonymous Raymond a francis said...

Interesting but I am not convinced that that proves we NZers as a society are or have ever been keen on slaving
You could just as easly say that because Maori (certainly in the musket days) took slaves that we had a history of it and were keen to pursue that to acquire cheap labour
I think a study of Maori slaves would suggest otherwise

9:41 am  
Blogger Sanctuary said...

As always, extremely interesting.

10:47 am  
Blogger Timespanner said...

Intriguing, Maps. Just one small thing -- Brissenden's estate was at Epsom, not Kohimarama. That latter site belonged to John Sangster Macfarlane, who was a bit of a rogue merchant in his own right.

Some members of the McLiver family, whose story is linked to New Zealand from the 1840s, were also involved, directly and indirectly, with the blackbirding trade later that decade. Finlay McLiver was even caught red-handed, but got off by the skin of his teeth.

11:03 am  
Anonymous Scott/Maps said...

Hi Timespanner,

thanks for that correction! Angus Ross says that the Melanesians were sent to work on the estate of Macfarlane; Thomson's report says that they worked on Brissenden's estate in Epsom and an unnamed estate in Kohimarama, which I suppose must have been Macfarlane's?

Raymond, my feeling is not that Pakeha New Zealanders were keen on the slave trade but that they repressed their part in it because slavery didn't fit with the young colony's dominant ideology. The self-deception involved probably helped set New Zealand up for disaster in Samoa and Niue when it acquired them in the twentieth century.

I don't quite get your point about slavery in the Musket Wars. It certainly did exist on a large scale, and had important consequences.

Thanks for the thumbs up Sanctuary. I liked your comments about the 'two New Zealands' in the recent Kiwipolitico thread, though I'm not sure if I completely agree with them.

1:16 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Btw Lisa, do you know where in Waitakere the mill Brissenden co-owned with a bloke named Walker was located? I did a google and noticed that a book with which you were involved mentioned a Brissenden mill at Bethells/Te Henga. Did Brissenden have another out west?

1:27 pm  
Blogger Timespanner said...

Your sources did state that Macfarlane had his estate at Kohi, where the workers were sent, as well as Brissenden's at Epsom. Which means Macfarlane, a long-time interest of mine in tracing his shady deals, was involved in this. He had a wool processing plant out that way, from the late 1860s. Also another point of interest -- the Lulu when launched on 20 December 1869 at Onehunga, was done so before James Russell. Thomas Russell's daughter did the honours -- and that is a name long-linked with shady and labyrinthine business practices.

Seems Brissenden leased, in January 1870, 384 acres of part of a 3209 acre farm bought by John Kelly. He spent 8 months building his mill for flax processing, but then John O'Neill, Kelly's neighbour, put in a challenge for land rights, which terminated the flax mill operation completely, as Brissenden & co no longer had a guarantee of title. See AJHR, "Papers relating to claims of John Kelly", 1872, G-33. Which would explain why Haultain didn't see the flax mill in operation when he did his survey later that year. Exactly where Brissenden's operation was, I can't say for sure. West Auckland Historical Society may know more -- call them on Monday at Mill Cottage. If Ben Copedo's there, he may know more.

2:08 pm  
Blogger Timespanner said...

Oh, and let me know if you'd like me to email you a copy of the map showing Kelly's property.

2:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look round the world.

Evil is all over.

1:01 am  
Anonymous Sceleda said...

By BRUCE SMITH, Associated Press Bruce Smith, Associated Press – Fri Apr 15, 3:19 pm ET
CHARLESTON, S.C. – As cannons thudded around Charleston Harbor this week in commemoration of the start of the war that extinguished slavery, the audiences for the 150th-anniversary events were nearly all-white. Even black scholars lecturing about black Union troops and the roots of slavery gazed out mostly on white faces.

The reasons blacks stayed away are not exactly a mystery: Across Dixie, Civil War commemorations have tended to celebrate the Confederacy and the battlefield exploits of those who fought for the slaveholding South.

But the National Park Service is trying to make anniversary events over the next four years more hospitable to black people.

"We're trying to broaden the story to go beyond the battlefields to the home front and to talk about 150 years later, if much of the reason for the war was freedom for enslaved people, how far have we come?" said Carol Shively, a spokeswoman for the Park Service sesquicentennial in the Southeast.

The anniversary of the April 12, 1861, bombardment of Fort Sumter that plunged the nation into its bloodiest war was marked in Charleston on Tuesday by hundreds of people. Only a few blacks attended a pre-dawn concert of period music or were on hand for a ceremony re-creating the first shot a few hours later. One of the black people present was a Union re-enactor who threw a wreath into the water and then saluted.

"I think it's very painful and raw" for blacks to attend such activities, said the Rev. Joseph Darby of Charleston, who is black and was not there for the Fort Sumter commemoration. "If you're going to be authentic in the way you re-create it, it would be hard to filter out the triumphal air of the firing on Fort Sumter."

On Wednesday, the Park Service sponsored events about blacks outside its Fort Sumter tour boat dock. It included lectures on slavery and on the Union 54th Massachusetts, the black unit depicted in the 1989 movie "Glory" starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. But out of about 50 people attending the lectures, there was only one black, a woman who declined to be interviewed.

Dot Scott, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said even such programs may not be enough to get blacks involved in 150th-anniversary events.

"It's almost like celebrating with the enemy," she said. "I personally began to have a feeling of why would I want to be a part of it?"

The national NAACP has said the activities should neither romanticize the South nor ignore that slavery was the principal cause of the war. Both Scott and Darby credit the National Park Service with working hard to make events inclusive.

Earlier this year, the Park Service worked with Kennesaw State University in Georgia to conduct focus groups with blacks on the Civil War. Some of the participants worried that the Civil War as taught in the South reflects only the Confederate view and that the history of blacks is misinterpreted.

"We need to overcome the shame and embarrassment of slavery — to see humanity" in the stories told by the parks, one participant said.

1:05 am  
Blogger Richard said...

"Anonymous said...

Look round the world.

Evil is all over. "

It probably is, your deep Nihilism is admirable: but Maps at least maintains the illusion that there is some hope for human beings.

The older I get the more futile that seems: but reading here reminds me of my idealistic youth when I believed in things...

The other problem he has is that if he wants to keep on is that to talk about the whole world (and why not the whole Universe?) and its putated evil, simultaneously, is a bit impractical.

By concerning ourselves with these worldly and transient matters we at least stop ourselves from thinking of death. Something I do all the time, as indeed Montaigne did.

Slavery doesn't concern me, anonymous, I feel like The Roman Empire*: but I find Map's posts on his Blog very interesting.

Nor have you defined Evil by the way.

*Albeit a Gravesian one!

11:31 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

This hard working class bloke, a certain Dave Jolly, now gone from this tormented world of tears and sperm, and who built up an engineering and wheel widening company from his own blood strength persistence and hard work, in Mt Wellington, called "Jolly Wide Wheels" where my son worked once, used to urge him to clean up the canteen such that it would be:

"As shiny as a silver dollar on Nigger's arse."

11:38 pm  
Anonymous Edward said...

Good to see you publish some more of your thoughts on Blackbirding Maps. Pretty abhorent practice, and one which I doubt hardly anyone is aware of (hell, I wasn't either). Interesting your take in the fact that NZ's early production model used cheap disenfranchised Maori labour - this had some interesting implications in the scheme of things. A bit embarrasing that Michael Laws, whom I understand to have attained a Bachelor in History, would continue to be such a poor historian. His track record is awful.

I look forward to hearing more about your work on this area.


Richard,

Come on, it's not all bad. People seem to forget that if all was evil all of the time we'd all be extinct, or at least not have families and friends. The world is a harsh place full of violence (of the mind and of the physical), but also goodness despite all of that.

1:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard Taylor at least gives us a working model of evil.

4:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I challenge this blog and all of the internet to begin a discussion about the destruction of this universe and the creation of a new one. 3,2,1...

5:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And no, previous commenter, Richard Taylor is not the issue here.

5:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dicks.

I challenge this blog and all of the internet to begin a discussion about the destruction of this universe and the creation of a new one. 3,2,1...

5:10 PM

Anonymous said...
And no, previous commenter, Richard Taylor is not the issue here.

6:20 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"From the start, the ideology of the settlers was out of tune with reality."

This is an (oblique) echo or Pound's great poem "Hugh Selwyn Mauberly"


E. P. Ode pour l'élection de son sépulchre

For three years, out of key with his time,
He strove to resuscitate the dead art
Of poetry; to maintain "the sublime"
In the old sense. Wrong from the start --

No, hardly, but, seeing he had been born
In a half savage country, out of date;
Bent resolutely on wringing lilies from the acorn;
Capaneus; trout for factitious bait:

Which "follows" a long poem of Villon's.

Maps subconsciously (or deliberately>) rewrites Pound here.

Pound is using satire were. Idontse itas long winge...itis ,as wellas other htinsg a powerfulpoem against war inits "sddepiction" of WWl...

But Ted said that his friend Gaudia Brzeska was a rather over zealous in reporting how he killed himself another Hun today and so on...so Pound.

Perhaps the complex man of "evil"...

But a great poet at his best. His revulsion against war (stronger than Eliot's, but it was never simplistic Pacifism) may have led him to his anti-Semitism via his Social Credit obsessions...

10:29 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I've finally read the whole post! Very interesting. Good research and insights as usual.

There are many twists and turns to our history we are all unaware of.

All is not well in the State of Denmark...

11:31 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

And no, previous commenter, Richard Taylor is not the issue here. "

Which Richard Taylor? There are millions of me.

11:33 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

As to the annihilation of the Universe, I believe Edward has few projects he wants to finish before that happens.

11:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In balance with this life, this death"!

"Good God, Holmes! I never saw anything like it. Drowned at his word-processor! 'Pon my soul! Sitting alone in a dry room with the doors and windows locked from the inside. Extraordinary! Foul play? But how? Drowned! I can't understand it, Holmes".

"Elementary political hydronomy, Watson! Observe, my dear chap, observe. Read what the poor fellow had just written. This was the wettest politician of them all! If he were a piece of land, Watson, he'd have been a swamp. I can scarcely believe it".

"Eh? Holmes, you don't mean like that whatchamacallit nonsense, spontaneous combus...?"

"Yes, Watson, I do! It is very rare in nature, but well-known to political science. This, my friend, was a case of spontaneous drowning!"

(From Arthur Conan Doyle's The Salutary Tale of the Waterlogged Scribbler).

12:52 am  
Anonymous Scott /Maps said...

Thanks to Lisa and others for the interesting comments, and apologies for disappearing from this thread: I am, you see, a 24/7 nursemaid at the moment! It's dreadful!

I feel a bit ashamed at the superficial nature of my research into blackbirding so far - I'm mostly relying on published (nineteenth century newspapers and reports) rather than unpublished docs, and apart from one interview in Tonga I haven't delved into oral traditions - but the field is, as Edward says, so wide open, at least in regards to this country, that one doesn't have too look too far to find extraordinary and disturbing stuff.

2:05 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

I had some exchanges with a chap at Kiwiblog which perhaps illustrate some of the attitudes which are common amongst New Zealanders who have heard of the obscure practice of blackbirding:

Scott wrote:

Bevan you need to read Gerald Horne’s The White Pacific, which was published in 2007 and was researched in American archives full of information on the Confederate diaspora and the Fijian KKK.

Bevan wrote:

Ah, the typical left wing response: “go away and read this obscure book I’m quoting”. Scott, I know you are hoping it works as obviously by the time I’ve read the book, the debate will be over. But unfortunately historical facts do not gel with your assertion.

Funny, of all the historical research Ive read about Fiji, Ive never come across anything regarding Confederate Americas infiltration of Fiji, in fact the only mention of the Confederacy relates that the American Civil War around time between when the US was threatening Fiji for compensation and Fiji willingly approaching the UK meaning cotton prices were up attracting AUSTRALIAN cotton growers to the islands.

Cakobau didn’t invite most of the white settlers in – many were invaders. They also used slave labour.

I’m afraid I must demand a source for this – and one that does not require 6 months of research to check if your telling porkies or not please.

All historical evidence I’ve seen is that all the labourers Melanesian or Indian were not slaves.

2:57 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Scott replied:

I’m interested in your sources, because I’ve been studying this subject for months as part of a book and (possibly) film project. There is no doubt at all that many Melanesians and Polynesians were taken as slaves to work in places like Peru, Queensland, and Fiji in the nineteenth century. The evidence for forced abductions is overwhelming, and was the cause of several pieces of legislation, including Britain’s 1872 Kidnapping Act. On the other hand there were Melanesians, and later Indians, who signed on willingly for work, knowing what it entailed. Some fought to stay in Queensland when the Aussies tried to deport them in 1905, and we have Wendell Sailor and Mal Meninga to thank for that.
I blogged about this stuff last week:
http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2011/05/white-headhunters.html (the second half of the post takes up the subject of blackbirding)

Bevan wrote:

Try visiting the actual country, visiting their museums. Hell, maybe you should start with Google. hell even Wikipedia has more reliable sources than the blog post you have linked.

BTW, Blackbirding is recruitment through trickery – not slavery, you’re confusing the two terms. While you could argue, they were paid slave wages they were not defined as slaves.

Seriously, you’d think the stuff your writing would at least be on the Internets greatest encyclopedia, but there doesnt seem to be a single there regarding Confederate America or Slave Labour on the Colonial Fifi and History of Fiji pages… Puzzling, wonder why?

2:59 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

And so it goes on...


Bevan wrote:

“Gerald Horne is an uncomprisingly committed Marxist …”

I replied:

Bevan that last comment shows the wrong attitude towards scholarly debate. A bloke’s politics don’t prevent him doing research – indeed, they’re a necessary prerequisite to research. We all have points of view and scholars need hypotheses to test. I mentioned Henry Maude, whose work on blackbirding has been superbly useful for me and others – he was, for many decades, one of the men who ran the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony. He was in other words a high-ranking imperialist! Does that mean an anti-imperialist like me shouldn’t read him? Of course not! I wrote about this sort of question at: http://books.scoop.co.nz/2010/02/24/in-defence-of-brainwashing/

Blackbirding is a term which scholars and the peoples of the Pacific alike seem to use for 19th century labour recruitment – whether forced or otherwise. There is, I agree, a distinction between indenturement and slavery, although this can blur at times. Clive Moore makes some really interesting points at the end of his book on Kanaka Mackay – he says that the popular belief amongst Kanaka/South Sea Islander Mackay inhabitants that their ancestors *all* left for Queensland unwillingly (some certainly did; some didn’t) is actually not in the community’s interest.

Yanks were indeed involved in blacbkbirding – I’d say the appalling serial rapist Bully Hayes was the most famous blackbirder of all! He was always being threatened with legal action, but his connection with high-ranking figures in the US government seeems to have protected him. Proctor the one-legged Confederate was another infamous blackbirder – see Scarr’s essay on him – and Ben Pease, who apparently liked to call himself ‘the last of the buccaneers’, was another well-known American blackbirder. It was Pease who owned the ship ‘Water Lily’, which was involved in the beheading of Melanesians on the Florida Islands which I mentioned in the post I made last week and linked to upthread. That atrocity, which was motivated by the desire to trade heads with pagan Melanesian chiefs in exchange for tortoise-shells and/or slaves, occurred under the eyes of the staff of Coley Patteson, the Anglican Bishop of Melanesia, and so ended up being investigated and described by an Aussie inquiry. Pease was actually the first man to be licensed to blackbird Melanesians for the Fijian plantations – he began bringing loads over in the mid-60s.

3:01 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

And on and on I went:

James Proctor, blackbirder, Confederate veteran, plantation owners and KKK member, is a major figure in Fijian history in the wild years of the early ’70s, and I’m not sure how you can imagine Horne could have made him and his activities up.

There’s an essay in the AW Reed anthology I mentioned earlier called ‘Evanescent Ascendancy: the Planter Community in Fiji’ by John Young which might be worth reading. Young spends some time on the way the white planters tried to create de facto ethno-states through Fiji in the 1870s, by collecting their own taxes and making their own laws and driving black people to the margins. Young also deals with the American settlers George Burt and Achilles Underworod, owners of land and men in Fiji in the late 1860s.

Young describes how Burt was cruel to his slaves, and how they rose up against him, escaped from his rule, and took shelter in the lands of Fijian tribes hostile to white colonisation. When he recapured his slaves Burt ‘stung their backs with nettles, stuffed their mouths with hot peppers, and gagged them’. When they found it impossible to procure new labour in Fiji, and generally found Fijians hostile, Burt and Underwood began to lobby the US government to annex Fiji. They worked with the same racist Residents Association Horne gives space to, and Burt actually went to the US to try to persuade politicians there to seize Fiji.

Underwood was eventually killed by blackbirder labourers who turned on him.

I don’t find that the tone or conclusions of Young’s essay differ greatly from Horne’s massively-referenced chapter on Fiji in The White Pacific.

There have been some interesting criticisms of Horne’s book, and I could see some myself, reading through it, but they are dued not to him being a ragining pinko but due to his having spent so long in US archives that he hasn’t kept up with some recent trends in both the scholarship and the popular culture of the Pacific (there are some giveaways, like the way he goes on about ‘Maoris’). I think the Honolulu Times had a crack at him over his portrayal of the US seizure of that country, too. But of course the essence of scholarship is dissnesion and debate…

3:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TENNESSEE

The Tea Party of Tennessee wants to remove incidents of slavery and genocide from American textbooks for fear they would besmirch the image of the Founding Fathers:

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.

As a result, the Tea Party organizations argue, there should be “no portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

“The thing we need to focus on about the Founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,” Rounds explained of his interpretation of the legacy of the Founding Fathers.

The issue of revising curriculums to teach history in a manner that encourages the glossing over of the uglier factors of the past has popped up in other states over the past year.

3:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgotten black spies:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43461045/ns/us_news-life/

9:14 pm  
Anonymous JB said...

After 1845 slavery was legal in Texas until 1865. Between 1821 and 1836, some 38,000 settlers arrived in Texas, especially from the Southern states. After the Civil War 1861-65 there was again a large migration from the South to Texas. However I don't know how many settlers migrated from the Southern states to Texas in 1845-1860. There was also a large influx of European immigrants, of course.


In 1849, a census of the cotton production of Texas reported 58,073 "bales" (500 pounds each). In 1852, Texas was in eighth place among the top ten cotton-producing states of the US. The 1859 census credited Texas with a yield of 431,645 bales. The total output volume of cotton therefore must have increased by more than seven times in one decade, and the amount of land under cultivation must have increased proportionally. But how much of this expansion of production was attributable specifically to slave labour is a moot point. Cotton production continued to grow also after the abolition of slavery; by the early 20th century Texas was the leading cotton producer in the US.

11:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"On a warm spring morning about 50 miles north of Berlin, Union troops and their Confederate rivals prepare for battle." That's the attention-grabbing lede of a PRI story on the bizarre phenomenon of Germans reenacting the American Civil War. The reporter explains that many participants feel "a personal connection to the war," and that everyone with whom she spoke took care to note that 200,000 Germans had taken part in the fight:


After World War II, any talk of military glory became socially taboo here...So for those at the reenactment, it is appealing that the U.S. Civil War took place in another country, in another time. It is safer, even romantic.
But the two parties to the fraternal conflict exert unequal appeal. When Germans gather at the reenactments, "more people want to be on the Confederate side." That produces a surreal spectacle. Germans marching about in butternut and gray, pretending to dwell in Dixie. With Teutonic precision, they have replicated every detail, down to the brass buttons and the brightly colored piping on their trousers.

They have missed only one thing. In their search for an anodyne conflict, lacking the baggage of their historical wars of mastery, these Germans have taken a wrong turn. The units they prefer to recreate fought to preserve an abhorrent system that kept more than three million men, women, and children in bondage while denying their very humanity. Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens famously explained the essential principle of his new nation:


its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
There is no escape from this uncomfortable truth. And unlike their American counterparts, most Confederate reenactors in Germany cannot claim to be honoring their ancestors or their heritage. There were, in fact, some 200,000 Germans who fought in the war. But by donning Confederate gray, they are betraying their legacy, not preserving it.

"Take the [Germans] out of the Union Army and we could whip the Yankees easily," Robert E. Lee allegedly remarked. The quote, likely apocryphal, captures an important fact. Immigrants born in Germanic lands were enormously overrepresented in the Union Army. By one estimate, 176,817 donned the army blue, half again as many as their share of the overall population would have predicted. Other reliable estimates range as high as 216,000. And adding in the descendants of earlier generations of German immigrants would more than triple that total. The Germans, one contemporary judged, understood "from the beginning, the aim and the end of the civil war, [and] they have embraced the cause of the Union and emancipation with an ardor and a passion."

If the German reenactors actually "model their characters in the reenactments after...German immigrant soldiers," as they explained to the reporter that they do, then those who wear gray have their work cut out for them. Less than 10 percent of the Germans immigrants in the United States, scarcely 70,000, dwelt in the entire territory controlled by the Confederacy at the outbreak of the war. Many fled north, with perhaps 2,000 joining the Union Army. Hundreds of those who remained petitioned the consuls of German states for protection from the draft. There were certainly some ardent secessionists, and even a few slaveholders, and between 3,500 and 7,000 Germans may have served in the Confederate Army. But of that number, many were conscripted, a large number deserted, and some mutinied. "The German minority of the South," one scholar concluded, "was all but insignificant politically, economically, and militarily during the American Civil War."

11:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post is being twittered
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7:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or http://twitter.com/#!/search/New%20Zealand's%20slaving%20history

7:20 am  
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11:02 pm  
Anonymous jh said...

Michael King :
Credit to the Maori, though, jh - they stopped practising slavery decades before Europeans.
......
When Bishop Selwyn arrived in the islands in 1848, it was to discover that the Maori called Moriori "Paraiwhara" or "Blackfellas"; and it was to report that the Moriori population continued to decline at a suicidal rate as a consequence of kongenge or despair. Moriori slaves were not released and New Zealand law was not established on the islands until 1862, twenty years after they had become part of New Zealand. And it is that twenty years of neglect of fiduciary duty on the part of the Crown that is the basis for the Moriori claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, heard in 1994, but still not reported upon.
http://sof.org.nz/origins.htm

.....
I haven't read much about black birding however i had heard Bully Hayes was a notorious pirate and black-birder. I didn't know he was 'apparently protected by interests in the US".

I notice you don't provide references, however I found this one:
http://uriohau.blogspot.com/2008/08/slavery-in-pacific_09.html

6:56 pm  
Anonymous jh said...

Bully Hayes, an American ship captain who achieved notoriety for his activities in the Pacific in the 1850's to the 1870's, is described as arriving in Papeete, Tahiti in December 1868 on his ship Rona with 150 men from Niue, who Hayes offering for sale as contract labourers.[13] The expansion of plantations in Fiji and Samoa also created destinations for blackbirders. The number of ships involved in the blackbirding trade resulted in the British Navy sending ships from the Australia Station into the Pacific in order to suppress the trade. The activities of the ships of the Australian Squadron, (HMS Basilisk, HMS Beagle, HMS Conflict, HMS Renard, HMS Sandfly & HMS Rosario), did not put an end to the blackbird trade, with the islands of Melanesia and Micronesia also suffering the predations of blackbirders.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackbirding

Shocking how we were all involved and supportive of blackbirding isn't it Scott?

PS I take it your oposts aren't to be taken as serious academic work (as would be) subject to peer review?

7:46 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

I'm not sure what you mean when you say we were all involved in blackbirding, jh. Do you mean that the Samoans and Fijians must have been in on the trade because plantations located in those places imported blackbirded labourers? The plantations were owned by white chaps, you know. Maori and some other non-white peoples sometimes helped crew the ships, though. As I've said many times on this blog, I don't believe in generalising about the morality of one or another ethnicity. I think historical materialism is incompatible with such an approach. I try to look to large structural factors to explain behaviour.

Quite a few of my posts are work in progress of one kind or another: my recent book from Manchester University Press was roughed out on this blog. Generally in this post I hyperlink to my sources, so that people can check them for themselves. By following hyperlinks you can read for yourself, for instance, the report of Constable Thomson into the condition of the enslaved Efateans in Auckland, or Bishop Patteson's memorandum to the New Zealand government on the slave trade, or the account of the cruise of the slave ship Lulu written by its captain...

1:11 am  
Anonymous jh said...

Interesting link to Bishop Patteson of Norfolk Island. I note he doesn't actually call the blackbirding "slavery' but close to it as in "trickery" and that today we talk of "slave labour" re wage negotiations. Remember the charge here is "New Zealand's slaving history". You say "32 New Zealand ships" can you reference that? With regard to "32 NZ ships" can we say they are "New Zealand"?

12:43 pm  
Anonymous jh said...

There was a curious quality to the sudden outcry against slavery. Newspapers condemned the 'labour trade' at length, but usually avoided discussion of* New Zealand's involvement in the phenomenon*.
...
who or what is "New Zealand" here? If a NZr is arrested for drug smuggling do we say "New Zealands involvement?

"Instead of connecting the trade to British imperialism and its ideology of racial superiority, the media and public called for the elimination of blackbirding through the expansion of British imperial power and New Zealand colonial authority.
....
because most people don't share your paradigm. After all many ships masters were good people and laws were evolving for the better of humanity as good people took pity on the down trodden.

1:42 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

I think it's reasonable to say that a range of New Zealanders and New Zealand institutions were involved in the slave trade - the government was complicit, the shipping copanies profited, and hundreds of crewmen did the dirty work.

Did the expansion of New Zealand and British colonial possessions help 'the downtrodden' of the Pacific? Our tragicomic history as colonial overlord in Samoa and Niue, and the role of the British in expanding the plantation economy and enclosing native lands in Fiji after annexation, make it easy to answer that question.

10:01 pm  
Anonymous jh said...

The Government was complicit because?

What is your source for 32 NZ ships?

6:46 pm  
Anonymous jh said...

But men like Proctor can hardly be blamed for the whole of the Pacific slave trade: along with the Australian colonies, New Zealand was deeply involved from an early stage.

Evidence:
At the end of 1868 John Thurston, the British Consul in Fiji, wrote to Wellington to report that nine New Zealand ships had recently called there with human cargoes.

A year later Thurston's successor, Edward March, provided details of another seven blackbirders' vessels active in Fiji. [but you don't say where they were from]

At first relatively small ships - cutters, and ketches, and schooners - from New Zealand's more northerly ports made up the bulk of the Kiwi blackbirding fleet,
[references?]

but as time went on, and the profits to be made from the trade in humans became clear, businessmen from New Zealand's wealthy south funded larger ships. In 1871 JR MacKenzie, one of the richest men in Dunedin, launched a steamship called the Wainui, which was soon busy 'recruiting' labour in Melanesia.
[by recruiting you mean 'blackbirding'.. References?]

Frustrated by their own failure to create prosperity in New Zealand, the country's political elite hoped that the sugar and cotton booms in Queensland and Fiji would spread. Auckland might become a profitable 'depot' for Fijian exports destined for Europe, and the newly-wealthy planters of Fiji and Queensland might import large quantities of consumer goods from New Zealand.
[you allege a motive but do you have anymore tangible evidence that the government actually supported blackbirding]

New Zealand's involvement in blackbirding was a reflection of the failure of the promise which lured so many settlers to the country.
[so what is the score so far: you have only identified 9 New Zealand registered ships]

8:26 pm  
Anonymous jh said...

In May 1870 the slave trade reached the shores of New Zealand, as the schooner Lulu arrived in Auckland with a cargo of twenty-seven men from the New Hebridean island of Efate. In an account of his blackbirding expedition published in several newspapers, the Lulu's captain noted that the many of the New Hebrideans were 'timid and distrustful' or else openly 'hostile', and revealed that he had paid 'douceurs' (bribes) to chiefs to help acquire labourers.

[so the chiefs were in on it too?]

"In an editorial that mixed sympathy with condescension, the New Zealand Herald described the arrival of the labourers from Efate, and noted that 'these niggers are at present entirely in the hands' of their 'importers'. 'Experience and common sense should tell us', the Herald said, that 'the niggers' were not in New Zealand voluntarily. "

[back in 1870 "nigger" carried the same conotations as today?
Among Anglophones, the word nigger was not always considered derogatory, because it then denoted “black-skinned”, a common Anglophone usage.[7] Nineteenth-century English (language) literature features usages of nigger without racist connotation, e.g. the Joseph Conrad novella The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' (1897). Moreover, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain created characters who used the word as contemporary usage. Twain, in the autobiographic book Life on the Mississippi (1883), used the term within quotes, indicating reported usage, but used the term "negro" when speaking in his own narrative persona.[8] wikipedia]


Patteson's death received enormous publicity, and made blackbirding into an important issue in New Zealand. Large crowds attended memorial services up and down the country, and a particularly large gathering in Auckland, the city where Patteson had begun his missionary work, produced a resolution:
[ but "NZ was deeply involved" .. i.e your 9 identified and other unidentified ships and your unreferenced claims that the NZ government supported it (you only allege a motive at this stage?).

You draw a long bow based on an alleged ideology.

God Save The Queen.

jh
patrolling the backward waterways where pirates slander our good name.

8:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note that Wendell Sailor is usually listed as being a Torres St Islander not a South Sea one. He may have other ancestry not referred to of course.

1:47 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Thanks for that anon. I think my source for Sailor's background was this interesting page about the flag adopted by the SSI community:
http://www.flagsaustralia.com.au/ASSI.html

But those folks may have had it wrong...

3:31 pm  

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