America’s Buried History of White Slavery
By Larry Romanoff, November 26, 2020
Carte-de-Visite Portrait of Redeemed Slave Girl
At the start of the Civil War, Northerners distributed
portraits of redeemed slaves as a fundraiser and as propaganda. Several
different portraits of this girl were distributed, most having the same text:
“Redeemed in Virginia by Catherine S. Lawrence [at right]. Baptized in
Brooklyn, at Plymouth Church, by Henry Ward Beecher, May, 1863. Fannie Virginia
Casseopia Lawrence, a Redeemed SLAVE CHILD, 5 years of age. Entered according
to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by C.S. Lawrence, in the Clerk’s Office of
the district Court of the United States, for the Southern District of New York.
Photograph by Renowden, 65 Fulton Av. Brooklyn.” (Photo by Van
Dorn/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
American history books are totally silent on the matter of these white slaves, mostly of European stock with a great number of Irish, but also English and Scottish, who were kidnapped or otherwise forcibly deported to the US as slave labor. In fact, an examination of available documentation indicates that white slavery in the Americas was a much more extensive operation than was black slavery, and the numbers may be severely under-estimated. Several authors have claimed, and I have seen reports that appear credible, that white slaves in America outnumbered the black. In his book, They Were White and They Were Slaves, Michael Hoffman wrote,
“Negro slavery was efficiently established in colonial America because Black slaves were governed, organized and controlled by the structures and organization that were first used to enslave and control Whites. Black slaves were late-comers fitted into a system already developed.”
The new nation had a need for cheap labor since the settlers were in the process of exterminating the inhabitants of a large country and taking possession of the lands, but lacked the workers to develop it. These white slaves were more important than the blacks, in both number and economic advantage. One white slave owner, Virginia planter John Pory, stated that white (not black) slaves were the nation’s “principal wealth”. It was due in large part to the overwhelming majority of white slaves that America built its foundations of wealth, since slavery was exclusively a matter of economics and profit. American capitalism was viciously predatory from the days of its birth.
Taking advantage of a period of war with Britain, the slave traders reduced the population of Ireland by more than 80% in a single decade, killing some and abducting and selling the rest to America as slaves. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included not only adults but even the youngest of children being forcibly taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the US and the West Indies. One eyewitness to the mass kidnapping of poor Whites estimated that from his personal knowledge alone, at least 10,000 were sold into slavery every year from throughout Great Britain for perhaps two centuries.
American history texts make reference to what is called indentured servitude, as a kind of “benignly paternalistic system whereby colonial immigrants spent a few years working off their passage and went on to better things”. The myth is that overseas passage was expensive and British and European civilians willingly signed indentures requiring them to work for a few years to pay off the cost of their passage, after which time they would be given land and their freedom to pursue a glorious future in the New World. But it was no such thing. There were indeed some indentured persons fitting this description, but they were a minuscule minority with their conditions not better than that suffered by all slaves. In fact, their indentures most often amounted to a life sentence at hard labor, and with a life that would be preciously short when we look at the hideous mortality rates. There are documented records of white convicts asking to be hanged in Britain rather than sent to the gulag that was America.
It is only the elite establishment in America today who present a disingenuously impassioned propaganda to soften the brutality. Some Jewish and other sympathetic historians pretend that this system of indentures, a kind of privileged form of bound labor, was representative of the entire experience of White bondage in America. But this definition would apply only to those voluntarily binding themselves to service, and of these there were few, with the contracted indenture being maintained only as a spurious cover for plain and simple lifetime chattel slavery. Even the Whites referred to themselves as slaves who were not better than cattle, and who were by all accounts degraded chattels on a par with farm animals. There is evidence of many hopeful but illiterate migrants who were duped into signing indentures, ignorant of the actual content of the documents that legally designated them as personal property that could be bought and sold, gambled away, or killed without concern like any other animals. In any event, the indentures provided countless excuses for the slave-owners to extend the period of servitude indefinitely, often by 7 years for the most minor of offenses and 10 or 15 years for others. Few escaped.
The slave traders exerted grand efforts in inducing free whites to sign indentures, supposedly placing themselves in ‘temporary’ slavery with the promise of 50 acres of farmland at the end of the indenture term, but this was nothing more than a despicable racket. The promised lands were entrusted to the slave-owner on the understanding the land titles would later pass to the slaves, but these land rights could be forfeited for almost any reason, including laziness, with the land titles then becoming the master’s rightful property. Many slave-owners purchased large numbers of these so-called indentured persons and quickly concocted excuses to seize all the entrusted lands, occasionally with a gift and a wink to the relevant authorities. Certainly hundreds of thousands and potentially millions of acres of fertile land were obtained in this manner, with many slave-owners accumulating vast estates and great wealth, which is precisely why this “benignly paternalistic” system was created. Indentured servitude was never more than an immense and cruel fraud.
One author wrote that historians deliberately maintain the fallacy that “wherever White ‘servants’ constituted the majority of servile laborers, they worked in privileged or even luxurious conditions which were forbidden to Blacks. In truth, White Slaves were often restricted to doing the dirty, backbreaking field work while Blacks and even Indians were taken into the plantation mansion houses to work as domestics.” A Major named Mordecai Manuel Noah, who was described as “the most distinguished Jewish layman of his time”, promoted slavery by equating it with freedom. Incredibly, he made pronouncements like this:
“There is liberty under the name of slavery. A field Negro has his cottage, his wife, and children, his easy task, his little patch of corn and potatoes, his garden and fruit, which are his revenue and property. The house servant has handsome clothing, his luxurious meals, his admitted privacy, a kind master, and an indulgent and frequently fond mistress.”
David W. Galenson wrote a treatise titled ‘White Slavery entitled White Servitude in Colonial America’, in which he stated, “European men and women could exercise choice both in deciding whether to migrate to the colonies and in choosing possible destinations.” These comments, and so many more like them, are pure fiction, very large lies meant to erase the evil of centuries. White slaves were obtained from the poorest levels of British society who were regarded as expendable by the ruling class. Economists advocated the enslavement of poor Whites because they saw them as the cheapest and most effective way to develop the colonies in the New World while ridding themselves of the surplus poor who were “unprofitable” to England. As American agriculture expanded, landowners demanded the legalisation of the practice of kidnapping poor Whites for slavery. Parliamentary legislation was passed to specifically permit the capture of White children, with this becoming what we can call an “open hunting season” on the poor of Great Britain as well as anyone the British aristocracy happened to despise.
Given the secrecy of the entire matter of white slavery, it isn’t surprising that few are aware that a great many of the slaves deported to the Americas or Australia were not convicts as the record states, but were actually political prisoners and political dissidents, and many more were prisoners of war. England in particular made a point of rounding up every political dissident of substance, imprisoning them, then deporting them as ‘convicts’. It was also a policy of England to cooperate with the slave traders in permitting what were called “slave-hunting gangs” who roamed freely throughout the country and vacuumed up virtually anyone not looking rich, this process viewed with much approval by the British aristocracy. Henry Cromwell not only eliminated about 85% of the population of Ireland within a decade, but was especially determined to capture and deport all Irish women: “Concerning the young [Irish] women, although we must use force in takinge them up, yet it beinge so much for their owne goode, and likely to be of soe great advantage to the publique, it is not in the least doubted, that you may have such number of them as you thinke fitt to make use uppon this account.” He also ordered all the homeless poor throughout Great Britain to be captured and deported by the slave traders, for being “unprofitable to the Realm”. Laws permitted the seizure of any persons in any part of England who appeared to be vagrant, or who were begging, and to have them conveyed to a British port and shipped to America to be sold. Accordingly, judges ordered the enslavement and shipping to America the total number of “those who made life unpleasant for the British upper class”. Westerners are generally aware that Australia was populated almost entirely with convicts from British prisons, but few are aware that the New World of America was initially populated in the same way from the same sources. The government of England virtually emptied its prisons, transporting most of its convicts, both men and women, to America to be sold to plantation owners and other industrialists, and brothels were forcibly emptied to provide unwilling human breeding stock for American slave-owners.
The trade in White slaves was a natural one for Jewish merchants in England who imported sugar and tobacco from the American colonies. Whites kidnapped in Britain could be exchanged for these goods in America, permitting the merchant ships to convey cargo in both directions. But the disposability of these humans in the minds of these inhuman merchants, staggers the heart. There are documented reports that one ship dumped more than 1,300 white slaves into the Atlantic Ocean to ensure an adequate food supply for the crew. Other documented reports tell of 20 or 30 children at a time being tossed into the ocean to drown. There was also a provision in many contracts that white slaves were sold in advance to plantation owners who would be responsible for full payment “if the slaves survived beyond the halfway point of the journey”. Apparently ship captains regularly stocked sufficient food for only the first half of their ocean voyage with the intention of starving the slaves for the remainder of the trip. One documented record stated, “Jammed into filthy holds, manacled, starved and abused, they suffered and died during the crossings in gross numbers.” Nobody bothered to record the number of deaths. Even those fortunate enough to land in the New World would fare little better, suffering a shocking mortality rate. Sixty percent of all white slaves reaching the Americas did not survive their first year. One clergyman visited a plantation outpost and described the scene as “a land of the living dead, a vault full of living corpses”. A policeman referred to them as “vermin-haunted heaps of rags”. He claimed that when he opened a door into one of their hovels, he saw, “Ten, twenty, thirty, who can count them? Men, women, children, for the most part naked, heaped upon the floor like maggots in a cheese factory, a spectral rising, unshrouded, from a grave of rags”. White slaves who rebelled or became disobedient were punished in the most savage and inhuman ways. Owners would hang their slaves by their hands and set their feet on fire. Often, they were burned alive, with their severed heads then placed on pikes in a public marketplace to serve as a warning to other slaves.
American slave-owners quickly began breeding the white women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce. Even if an Irish woman managed to obtained her freedom, her children would remain slaves and she would seldom abandon them, thereby remaining in servitude. Other American masters found a better way to use these white women – who were in many cases girls as young as ten or twelve – to increase their market value by breeding them with African men to produce slaves with a “mulatto” complexion which brought a higher price than their Irish livestock. This practice of interbreeding White females with African men became so long-term and widespread that legislation was passed forbidding the practice because this production of offspring interfered with the profits of a large Jewish slave trader. The more perverse versions of Judaism also played a part. One of the reasons the African slave trade began was that African slaves were “not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology” that infected the Irish. In part because of this, African slaves became more expensive to purchase and were often treated far better than their White counterparts. Black slaves were indeed cruelly used but not often worked to death as were the Whites who were available for almost nothing and were fully expendable. Upon arrival in America, these White British would be stripped naked, put in chains, and paraded on the auction floor where they were probed, examined and sold like livestock.
Particularly shocking was the abduction and enslavement of a great many white children who were openly seized from orphanages, workhouses and the streets, and shipped to America to labor in factories and plantations. There were countless shipments of these doomed children to America for perhaps 300 years, with very few living to become adults. In one case, when a census was taken in Virginia only seven children were listed as alive from the many thousands kidnapped that year. All the rest were dead, and statistics for other years are equally grim, with sometimes only three or four surviving that year. Orphan children as well as the children of poor parents were targeted for the White slave trade, these latter being described as a “plague” and a “rowdy element”. The London police were instructed to seize any children found on the street and take them to a containment facility where they would await shipment to America. Often, their only crime was being in the street when a constable happened to pass by. The Jewish slave-traders specifically targeted poor families, demanding they surrender their children for sale on threat of being starved into submission by the withdrawal of all relief assistance from any source. They could give up their children to the slave-traders, or be forced to starve and die. This centuries-long inhuman use of “disposable” children was the beginning of the American fondness for child labor which began with the agricultural plantations, but which was soon extended to American factories.~~Another portion of America’s history that has been even more deeply buried is its tradition of American natives as slaves. A great many natives were taken, especially as children or youths, and put into slavery by the European settlers. It is difficult to locate authoritative texts and witness testimonials on this issue because the historical record is so scattered, but it is clear these were not isolated incidents and occurred widely in some parts of America. I have seen no accurate count of native slaves, but one portion of one state alone was reliably reported to have more than 50,000 native slaves. The entire matter has been written out of American history because Americans don’t want to deal with it.
But even more than local slavery, countless thousands of native adults were captured and shipped to Spain and Portugal where they were sold into slavery. Historian Howard Zinn made this observation in one of his books: “In the year 1495, [Columbus and his men] went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town, who reported that, although the slaves were “naked as the day they were born”, they showed “no more embarrassment than animals.” This was within two years of Columbus first having landed in the New World, and his slave business progressed from there, lasting for more than 300 years until it eventually gave way to the trading in black and white slaves. Christopher Columbus was without doubt the first, or one of the first, slave traders in the New World, effecting his trade in both directions. Again, I have seen no accurate tally of the totals of natives sold in slavery in Europe and the Caribbean, but it was certainly substantial, sufficiently so as to virtually eliminate some native tribes. In fact, slavery was one of the main factors contributing to the disappearance of the American natives.
Christopher Columbus is today venerated throughout the US with a Columbus Day holiday and even Washington’s ‘District of Columbia’ is named after him. To support their narrative, the sanitisers of history created the myth of Queen Isabella of Spain pawning her crown jewels to finance his voyages of exploration, but none of that is true. Columbus, whose real name was Cristobol Colon, was a Jewish adventurer and slave trader financed by wealthy Jewish businessmen, whose discovery of the new world set in motion a program of genocide that covered all the Americas, exterminating more than 125 million people including the entire Maya, Inca and Aztec civilisations, as well as the Carib Indians and 98% of American aboriginal peoples. The newly-founded America continued the policy of ruthless genocide that Columbus began, where mass extermination was implemented to clear land for white settlers. The genocide against American Natives was the largest and longest-lasting genocidal campaign in human history. “It started, like all genocides, with the oppressor treating the victims as sub-humans, and continued until almost all Natives were wiped off the face of the earth, along with much of the language, culture and religion of hundreds of tribes.” By about 1900 the native population had been reduced to 2.5% of its original numbers, reduced from about 20 million to a little over 200,000, and 98% of their land had been lost. This was from a conscious and deliberate continuation of a 500-year policy of genocide designed to “extirpate this excrable race” of people.
Many Americans, and many American textbooks make great efforts to deflect responsibility for these events, claiming the native deaths were not planned or were not part of any government program, or that they were due to natural disease or other factors. These claims are lies. For many years, US State Governments offered large rewards for the scalps of dead Indians. It was so lucrative that in many areas murdering Indians became a flourishing business and one of the best-paying jobs in America. The British commander Lord Amherst famously wrote about a plan to infect Native Americans by giving them smallpox-infected blankets, a policy that the Americans carried out with great success in many parts of the US, since the Natives had no natural immunity to many Western diseases. “With Bible passages in their hands to justify their every move, the Puritans began their march inland from the seaside communities where, joined by British settlers, they seized the land, took the strong and young Natives as slaves to work the land and killed the rest. Villages were set on fire with sleeping Natives burned alive, and many were sold into slavery – another matter that American history books avoid.”
The US Founding Fathers and the great Presidents of the United States shared several common characteristics – they were all deeply racist, believed in white supremacy, and were sociopathic genocidal thugs, reflected in their active promotion of the extinction of all native peoples. The Great American President George Washington referred to the natives as “wolves and beasts of prey” who deserved nothing from the whites but “total ruin”, and called for their total destruction. According to him, Americans should “lay waste all the settlements around, that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed”. And don’t “listen to any overture of peace before the total ruin of their settlements is effected”. It is documented that Washington instructed his troops to not only kill all the Indians they could find, but to skin the bodies of these dead Natives “from the hips downward to make boot tops or leggings”. By some reports, Washington was so determined a homicidal maniac that he spent 80% of his young government’s revenue on this ethnic cleansing. And then, not so many years ago, the US government proudly issued a postage stamp commemorating this ruthless campaign of mass murder. Only in America.
US President Theodore Roosevelt, a Nobel peace prize winner and great American honored today by all, offered this opinion of America’s native peoples: “All men of sane and wholesome thought must dismiss with impatient contempt the plea that these continents should be reserved for the use of scattered savage tribes, whose life was but a few degrees less meaningless, squalid, and ferocious than that of the wild beasts with whom they held joint ownership”. This great American hero also told us that America’s extermination of the Indians and the theft of their land “was ultimately beneficial as it was inevitable”. He said, “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth”. It was also Roosevelt who declared, “The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages” and openly spoke of cementing the rule of “dominant world races.” US President Andrew Jackson, not to be outdone by other Presidents, “supervised the mutilation of 800 or more Creek Indian corpses” that his troops had killed. Another great US President, Thomas Jefferson, wrote that “Indian resistance must be met with the hatchet. And if ever we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe we will never lay it down till that tribe is exterminated. We shall destroy all of them”. It was US President Abraham Lincoln, the greatest of the great Americans, who ordered 38 Sioux natives hung to death on Christmas Eve for leaving their reservation (internment camp) in search of food. It seems almost trite to point out that there were serious laws banning intermarriage between white Americans and the native people, laws which were only repealed by the US Supreme Court around 1970.
The best way to forget history is to rewrite it. Since being spoken by some of America’s favorite leaders and heros, these words have conveniently been forgotten by US historians who prefer to write their own history. Wikipedia disingenuously tells us the American natives today are ‘flourishing’ on their lands, but the truth is rather different. Almost all native tribes have been destroyed, all culture lost, and the few remaining are living on isolated lands, some subsisting by hunting and fishing, some running gambling casinos, and many performing insulting tribal dances to entertain tourists. Many are burned-out, desolated drunks, and Native Indians have the highest suicide rate of all peoples in the world today. It is to the everlasting good fortune of Tibetans that America was never successful in its persistent CIA-inspired efforts to ‘free’ Tibet. If it had succeeded, Tibet today would be the same haunted graveyard as is much of America.
As occurred in all the Americas, these transplanted Europeans waged a centuries-long genocidal war against the native inhabitants of the lands of America, eventually exterminating virtually all of them while confiscating their lands and resources. American history books are silent on these points as well, entirely ignoring the commercial and financial benefits to the rise of the American elite industrial class and the incalculable advantage to the economic development of the US. As with slavery, this colonisation and genocide was an economic issue, not a moral one, and was absolutely indispensable to the development of the wealth of the American ruling class. Anywhere in the world, if a group of industrialised rich enter a nation, exterminate its inhabitants and confiscate its wealth and resources, then for four hundred years employ unpaid slave labor to develop their industry and commerce, it would not be a surprise for this group to emerge as a wealthy and powerful nation. In fact, this was the entire theory behind the imperialism of the British and Dutch East India Companies as well as the European nations who specialised in exterminating native populations and plundering their wealth. These practices were quickly extended to the Americas where the settlers of the New World were not different in any respect. White supremacy held the peoples of all other nations in contempt, and greed accounted for the rest.
Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. His writing has been translated into more than 20 languages and is available on more than 100 foreign-language websites around the world. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Larry Romanoff is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new COVID-19 anthology ”When China Sneezes”.
Copyright © Larry Romanoff, Moon of Shanghai, 2020