What do you do with your Freed Slaves ? (5)

In my last article I posed the question of  “How did the British free their slaves?”. They had none of the difficulties faced by the USA (a bloody civil war), Russia (a bloody revolution and a bloody civil war) or France (a bloody revolution in Haiti).

west injdies plantation

Unbelievably, a decision was taken that the government would use taxpayers’ money, taken from the ordinary man in the street, to buy the owners’ slaves from them. This was a very cunning plan on so many levels. The government remained popular with the rich people. The rich people who owned no slaves remained rich. The rich people who owned slaves also remained rich. Nobody lost any money whatsoever except the poor old taxpayer, who now had to wait a little longer for his free medical care, free education, sanitation, decent roads, law and order in the streets and so on.

And what about the slave owners?


Well, by this windfall, they became even more unbelievably rich. And then they went on to invest their cash in other ventures so they could make even more money.

They didn’t hate the politicians who had abolished slavery either, because the slave owners had suddenly been made so rich by their actions.  You can probably guess who came out of it badly…

The population of black ex-slaves who now had nowhere to go. They couldn’t go down to the docks and catch a boat to West Africa. Instead they had to stay where they were and work for a pittance at their old job. This man’s family (218 slaves) made a good profit on the whole deal. They received £4,442 compensation, the equivalent of £3 million today. Don’t know who he is?:


And this man’s father received £106,769, the modern day equivalent of £80 million. Don’t know who he is?:



Filed under France, History, Politics

19 responses to “What do you do with your Freed Slaves ? (5)

  1. After Britain abolished slavery, the plantation owners in the British colonies turned to indentured laborers from India to continue their operations. They went mainly to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Mauritius, Fiji, Malaya, Natal, Suriname, and the British and French Caribbean. During the period 1838-1917, approximately 239,000 Indians from the ports of Calcutta and Madras arrived in British Guiana.

    In British Guiana, in spite of numerous obstacles imposed by the colonial government, the ex-slaves used their pooled savings to buy unoccupied lands to start a communal village movement.

    • In everything that I’ve read about British slavery I’ve never understood what would have been so bad about allowing people to have a small farm and live by selling things at market. And if the land was unoccupied, what had the government lost? Did they fear the growth of a non-white class of rich people? Not very likely from farms that size!

  2. In the US there was no plan. So that resulted in the cities being overrun with people searching for jobs and places to live.

    • I found out after I wrote this that the British actually passed laws so that their freed slaves weren’t allowed to go anywhere and they had to stay and work for their old masters. Not much change in their lifestyle, there, I suspect! In the USA there must have been millions of slaves suddenly freed because the main crops, tobacco and cotton were extremely labour intensive and that was why they needed slaves in the first place. And obviously with that number of slaves you need a plan!.

      • Everyone’s ‘hero’, Lincoln, didn’t exactly think that plan through!! Whenever I mention that – well – I won’t repeat the names I get called.

  3. You have to do a bit on Australia: kanakas and aborigines.

  4. Some people made hideous amounts of money out of slavery and it wasn’t the tax payer nor the slave!

  5. Oh how I detest greed. Grrrrrrr …… the scales are so unbalanced in this world!

    • My one consolation is that the vast majority of the ordinary people that I meet are not really willing to put their fellow man in chains just to make a bit of money. Having said that, there are a worrying number of cases of slavery in the news over here nowadays, almost exclusively carried out by East European nationals from the EC. I just wonder as to how many cases we don’t find out about.

  6. It always makes me angry when people say things like ‘The Government should spend more money on this or that’ or the ‘Government should provide more money’ for practically anything. Don’t people understand that the Government has no money except that which it raises in taxes either to pay for services or to pay off debts! People are so stupid!

    • Hence the references to the “Magic Money Tree” from the Conservative Party. Corbyn’s promises were, in the main, ludicrous and it is worrying that people could not see that. The figures I saw in the newspaper said that even with all these years of austerity, government spending is still increasing. For me, that is the most worrying thing,

      • It is a question of how much we are prepared to pay. Everything is affordable if we dig deeper into our pockets. Main problem is that people want top quality public services but don’t want to contribute. People from across the political spectrum fail to understand that Government has no money of its own!

  7. Chris Waller

    The fundamental problem with the British economy is our lamentably low productivity. We are 20 – 30 % less productive per man-hour than Germany and France, depending on the basis of measure, Hence we cannot afford decent public services.

    • I hadn’t thought of that, Chris, but it doesn’t seem implausible. Presumably the high tech factories like Nissan and Toyota don’t make up for the rest. Years ago, when I did student jobs, I always thought that not a lot got done in the factories where I worked, and it sounds as if not a lot may have changed.

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