Royal Navy and the Slave Trade

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by hansvonhealing, Feb 24, 2007.

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  1. Much has been said about the 'guilt' Britain should feel for its part in the Slave Trade. However, little credit is given for the efforts after 1807 to suppress the trade - mainly by the Royal Navy.

    Now, a RN website is highlighting this effort and providing some interesting facts - for example: Overall, the nineteenth-century costs of suppression were bigger than the eighteenth-century profits

    Website here:
  2. Hear, hear. Slavery was a shameful episode in our country's history, but today's apologists seldom mention the achievement of the Royal Navy in suppressing the transatlantic slave trade from as early as 1807. Many thanks hh for letting us know about that excellent new RN website.

  3. "After the terrible mortality on board the Eden, the surgeon on HMS Sybille , Robert McKinnal, took drastic action when a seaman went down with yellow fever, to convince his fellows that it was not contagious. One of the symptoms of yellow fever is black vomit, and McKinnal, on deck and in sight of the crew, drank off a glassful."

    Was he a squaddy? Much respect!

    “There is perhaps not any condition in which human nature may be viewed in a more revolting aspect than in that of a crowded slave-vessel, with dysentery on board. Of all the horrors attending the middle passage, with the exception perhaps of small-pox, it is the worst. The effluvium which issues from her decks, or rather prisons, is peculiar and sickening beyond conception, and is generally perceptible at a great distance to leeward.” That distance was reckoned by others to be as much as three miles, sometimes more.

    Thanks for that, reading through it.

    There is an extract HERE from an 1844 text book on "Theory and Practice of Ventilation" by one David Boswell Reid. It recommends the use of a ventilator/fan on intercepted slave ships to make the air in the holds breathable before sailors went below decks. The mind boggles.
  4. Interesting link and a welcome antidote to the presentism that shapes so many contemporary interpretations of the past.