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That slave owners were compensated so highly in Britain

(193 Posts)
tinypony Thu 21-Sep-17 14:08:45

I never realised till i read this article the extent of slavery in the UK till i read this. The fact that when slavery was abolished the slave owners were compensated by (in today's money) by millions of pounds, 40% of the ENTIRE government expenditure for 1834. If it wasn't for the fact they were getting compensated so highly we'd never have known the names of all these slave owners. But the lure of the big money drew them out of the woodwork.

www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/12/british-history-slavery-buried-scale-revealed

How bloody hypocritical and contradictory to abolish slavery on the one hand (presumably because of the immorality of it) but on the other hand give massive compensation to those affected.
It's just another case of the elite being looked after, where was the compensation for the slaves and their families. I'm disgusted.

PennyLaneFlowers Thu 21-Sep-17 14:17:43

I agree, OP, but I guess the government had to compensate these people as they had just taken away part of their assets by making it illegal to own salves.

I can imagine many disgruntled people who supported the slave trade (obviously, they bloody owned slaves) demanding compensation as they'd be worse off because of a law they hadn't supported.

The thing that upsets me most and makes me absolutely disgusted is that most of the slave owning families are those that are still in highly privileged positions today. I think there has been a startling, shocking and disgraceful lack of change. But, sadly, I think we're a lot more apathetic about it today.

5rivers7hills Thu 21-Sep-17 14:18:31

Slave owners were rich and powerful. Of course they could have been compensated, the government needed them on side.

BarbarianMum Thu 21-Sep-17 14:22:34

<<How bloody hypocritical and contradictory to abolish slavery on the one hand (presumably because of the immorality of it) but on the other hand give massive compensation to those affected. >>

Do you not think there might have been some trouble with getting the bill through parliment without some compensation then? Given who was able to vote and all? Standing on principle is all very lovely, but not at the expense of people's lives. It needed banning, it got banned (here at least). That's a good result and well worth every penny.

tinypony Thu 21-Sep-17 14:29:30

Makes you sick though doesn't it, and i agree about those same families still in highly privileged positions today. We simply wouldn't have those names if they hadn't come forward to greedily claim their compensation for each poor wretched soul who had the misfortune to be being of their property.
To abolish slavery because of its wrongness and then to not only compensate the ones who were wronged but to give such huge amounts to the ones who caused such suffering and hardship is beyond obscene. angry

tinypony Thu 21-Sep-17 14:30:39

I should have said to "not only not compensate"

tinypony Thu 21-Sep-17 14:32:48

Barbarian 40% of the entire government expenditure? why so much, these families were already very rich.

BarbarianMum Thu 21-Sep-17 14:38:30

I guess because that's what it took to get enough support for the Bill. Do you not think it was worth it then?

GladAllOver Thu 21-Sep-17 14:40:00

If that was the only way to abolish slavery it was money well spent.

BarbarianMum Thu 21-Sep-17 14:40:11

And also think what the money would otherwise have been spent on. The army? The navy? Expanding the Empire? Probably not widows and orphans and feeding the poor.

tinypony Thu 21-Sep-17 14:42:42

Compensation for the slaves? I'm sure the bill could have been passed without compensating them so highly.

tinypony Thu 21-Sep-17 14:43:46

Also do we know that the bill getting passed depended on the huge compensation given out?

HarrietVane99 Thu 21-Sep-17 14:45:38

Islands such as Jamaica where slave ownership existed had their own assemblies. The UK parliament had limited authority over them. They had the choice of ending slavery quickly by buying out the owners, or having the arguments dragging on for years.

And it's not just the plantation owners; anyone who lived in the UK in the 18th century is likely to have benefited in some way, directly or indirectly, from slavery.

And the Guardian is way behind the times if it's only just discovered all this; historians have been researching and writing on the subject for years. Just because one person has never heard of something, doesn't mean it's some great secret.

FenceSitter01 Thu 21-Sep-17 14:47:13

It's interesting. I watched a documentary on it. it wasnt just the gentry/wealthy who owned slaves, lots of everyday 'working class' folks had shares in sugar plantations that operated with slave labour. I think it was 1 in 6 people in Scotland at one point, had slavery derived income. It was standard practice for widows to invest their DHs miniscule pensions in plantations to maximise their income to allow them to educate their children and vaoid the poorhouse.

Glossoverthat Thu 21-Sep-17 14:49:38

Have a look at the rest of the references to UK slavery on Wiki, its an interesting read, slavery didn't just exist in the form of kidnapping and forcibly working peoples from Africa, it was very real for most people in this country through the ages..
So I wouldn't get worked up over government compensation for the rich, the rich have always been looked after, its the rest of us who have all suffered over the years..

SchnooSchnoo Thu 21-Sep-17 14:50:01

I've been thinking about this recently. I would be willing to bet that, as well as the compensation, the slave owners probably realised that it would be cheaper to free slates and remploy them on a pittance, and save money on feeding and housing them. And yes, it's the slaves that should hVe received the bloody compensation. Did they receive anything at all? I don't know enough about it because it's not taught on the school curriculum!

JumpingJellybeanz Thu 21-Sep-17 14:51:41

You can search the slave owners database on the link below.
It wasn't just very wealthy people. Slaves were seen as investments and many not so wealthy people invested their money in slavery, often buying 'shares' in a slave. There's no way the law would have gone through without the compensation because it would have meant loss of life savings for a huge proportion of the population.

www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 21-Sep-17 14:52:00

It's horrifying, there's not doubt about it. But I wonder how many of these families still have companies that deal in the arms trade, own or use sweat shops, have dealings in cash crops that have ruined the majority world, or are mates with the Saudis.

History is full of people who just don't care how much misery, suffering and death they cause to make money.

vivaVasLagas Thu 21-Sep-17 15:00:55

You're being unreasonable and it seems fairly strange to be making a thread about it.

Morality amongst so many other things needs to be viewed through the eyes of the time.A few years before the law changed, black people were viewed as property, in the eyes of the law and society. I think it's right and fair that they were compensated.

I'm not sure what you mean about 'families still in privileged positions'. Should they forfeit it now? Make one of those pointless and empty apologies when they have personally done nothing wrong?

My family made money from the opium trade. The benefits are still present. My education and background opened doors for me and was partly paid for by investments directly attributable to the trade. Nowadays, my great, great ... grandparents would be called heroin dealers and nothing more but were pillars of society. I don't think anyone should be blamed for the sins of their fathers and I find it hard to judge others when we can't ever properly understand the world they lived in.

tinypony Thu 21-Sep-17 15:05:55

I do agree that it was worth every penny if that was what it took to get it abolished. I just hate the thought of those families getting compensation for losing their right to own and force human beings to work for them for absolutely nothing, and then get paid for losing them.

It just shows how some things never change, the rich and privileged will always be looked after, It's right though that we should see the injustice and be outraged on behalf of the downtrodden even if it was nearly two centuries ago.

sharksDen Thu 21-Sep-17 15:07:21

"It's right though that we should see the injustice and be outraged on behalf of the downtrodden even if it was nearly two centuries ago."

Is it?

Nothing more pressing?

I'm not sure I'll ever understand MN's preoccupation with being outraged and livid.

ArcheryAnnie Thu 21-Sep-17 15:07:26

It makes me sick, OP, so I agree with you - but most of politics is compromise. If that's what it took to get the bill through, when serving politicians were mostly already-wealthy men with wealthy friends, then so be it.

But the slaves should have been compensated too.

tinypony Thu 21-Sep-17 15:08:19

viva it was someone else who mentioned "privileged position", i was just agreeing. Nobody was saying they should forfeit it now. We were just making an observation.

tinypony Thu 21-Sep-17 15:10:28

sharks I've only just read the article, why not be outraged. Can't help the way i feel. confused

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 21-Sep-17 15:11:17

I don't think anyone should be blamed for the sins of their fathers

Possibly not. But I don't think people should benefit from the dreadful behaviour of their ancestors either. It seems repulsive to me that generations of trauma in one community, caused by another community, cause poverty in the first and wealth in the second.

Africa still bears the scars of slavery, oppression and colonialism. So do aboriginal communities all over the world. Central America... But we merrily carry on our way, blaming their ineptitude after our families robbed and cheated their communities. Took away their leaders, killed their mothers and children. Raped them.

I understand that judging them with our morals doesn't work. But living off the proceeds of suffering and taking no responsibility for that is about OUR morality not theirs.

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