The white slave trade

To The Sunday Telegraph
I was interested in your article about the lost history of the Cornish people who were captured and sold as slaves by pirates from the Barbary Coast during the 17th and 18th centuries.
This subject is much better known about in Ireland, where the largest single raid took place. In 1631, pirates from Algiers stole almost all the villagers of Baltimore in Cork. In one night, more than 100 men, women and children were taken in a carefully planned raid. Only two ever made it back to Ireland.
The captain of the ship was actually a Flemish national who had raided for slaves as far as Iceland, where there is a large rock under which one woman managed to hide herself and avoid capture. (David Perry, Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire)

Without the Arabs in Africa the black slave trade would (possibly) never have taken off, and thus the history of the United States, not to mention Brazil and other countries, would have been very different. We are collectively grateful to the Arabs for preserving the ancient Greek and Roman scientific and other writings during the Dark Ages, but are we not due for a collective apology from the Arabs for their part in the transatlantic slave trade? Clearly, they (and their unscrupulous allies, in this case the Fleming) captured human beings where they could, regardless of geography and skin colour. The United States, particularly in universities, is constantly roiled in bad-tempered debates about the history of old institutions and their ownership of slaves. If this helps African Americans feel better about their lot, that’s fine, but be even-handed; you are more credible that way.

What has this to do with Epicureanism? Epicurus is reputed to have welcomed anyone, slave or free, into his garden to discuss philosophy. In those times slavery did not have the same connotations as it later had.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.