Tag Archives: britain

What do you do with your freed slaves? (4)

Sooooo.

Not only have you managed to compose the sentence:

All men are created equal …….endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But you have understood it.

And then you have decided to act upon it. Unless you do this, there’s very little point in expressing these fine sentiments anyway:

slaves

But in practical terms, just what do you do with all these people who are, at a stroke, suddenly given their liberty ? The only figure I have been able to find on the Internet comes from the History Channel, who say that there were four million or more slaves suddenly granted their freedom. And the USA wasn’t the only country to have this problem to deal with.

Tsarist Russia called them “serfs” but they were to all intents and purposes no better off than the slaves in America. In this photograph, lucky Russian women are doing the work of an English horse, pulling a coal barge up a river, probably the Volga:

serfs

The serfs were all freed in 1861 but were then discouraged from moving away from their owner’s  estates. Indeed, they had to stay and work for the landlord in the normal way for two years.

The land, too, was divided up. The nobility were allocated almost all the meadows and the forests. The state paid all their debts.

The poor old serfs, though, they had to pay over the odds for the land they were allocated. On average, it was 34% extra. In the north, it was 90% over the odds and it was 20% more in some of the so-called black earth regions in present day Ukraine and southern Russia.  In what is now Poland, the Tsar wanted to harm the Polish landowning classes, so the peasants paid nothing extra for their land.
None of this worked, of course. The poor old serf farmed his land but saddled with huge debts, he couldn’t make ends meet. He only received 50% of his total income from his own usually tiny farm. The rest he got by continuing to slave away on his landlord’s farm. As a result of this stupid, short sighted iniquity, many of the serfs moved to the cities to work in the factories there. And that process did end in tears:

Lenin-Hooray

In England, slaves were kept but really only as domestic servants. It was too cold to grow cotton. Within the British Empire, though, slaves were used in very, very large numbers to cut sugar cane in the West Indies:

west injdies plantation

Britain, of course, was a country owned and run by the extremely rich, for their own benefit, and in a way which would ensure that they remained extremely rich. Many of them were large scale slave owners. How could they possibly be made to free their slaves and impoverish themselves?

hogarth1

In the next article, all will be revealed.

 

 

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My latest book

snip-of-coverThose of you who follow my blog will be familiar with the many stories I have told about Nottingham High School; its Founders, its coat of arms, its war heroes, its caretakers and its one or two villains. I have recently finished compiling these stories, and many more, into a new book called Nottingham High School: The Anecdotal History of a British Public School, published with Lulu.com.

My history is an entertaining one about the people behind the institution – what they thought, said, and did from the reign of Henry VIII up to the modern era. I want to tell the stories of the ordinary people whose actions changed the history of Nottingham forever, and those whose lives had much wider influence on the history of our country and on the lives of people across the world. I tell the tales of all people connected with the High School – teachers, support staff, boys, alumni… from caretakers to kings!

image_update_72e24141db868b82_1348683417_9j-4aaqskThe book is written in diary form and runs from Thursday, June 30th 1289 to Thursday, July 12th 2012. It’s an easy read that you can dip in and out of as you wish. Find out about the antics of the boys, the excesses of the staff, the sacrifices of the alumni, and the castle-like school building in all its majesty.

My book contains new and previously unpublished research into the lives of some of the most famous ex-pupils of the school. Read about the childhood of scurrilous author D.H.Lawrence, whose controversial books were still banned 50 years after he wrote them. Read about the disruptive antics of Albert Ball V.C., the daring air ace who always fought alone. Read about American Old Boy, Major General Mahin of the U.S. Army, a man whose power and authority in the Second World War rivalled that of General Patton, until he was killed (or was it murder?).

The tone of my work is interesting and light, but at the same time, as you know from my blogposts, I can show my more serious side when occasion demands. A very large number of former pupils from the High School died in the two World Wars and their sacrifices are reflected in my book.

I have really enjoyed writing this new history book, and I hope that you will find it an entertaining and intriguing read. If you would like to give it a go, then it is now available from my page on Lulu.com.

p1040694

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Filed under Aviation, Criminology, History, Literature, Nottingham, Personal, The High School, Writing

“500 Happy Returns” Now on Sale!

500 happy returns nottingham high school's birthdayI am thrilled to announce that my new book, 500 Happy Returns: Nottingham High School’s Birthday, is now available for purchase. Over the past month or so I’ve been working on the finished publication, and I’m delighted that it’s now ready to be presented to customers. The proof copies arrived about a week ago, and it was very exciting to see a giant word document transformed into a real, physical book. Now I’m getting excited all over again when I see the book listed on Amazon!

This book is the culmination of a creative writing project to commemorate the school’s half millennium milestone. I invited all the staff, pupils (from age 4-18), cleaners, and support staff to write a hundred words about their day, preferably linking their entry to a specific time. I had the idea that these entries could tell the story of the school day minute-by-minute from a broad perspective. Participation was entirely voluntary, and I was really pleased to get around 800 contributions from members of the school. The good news is that these entries cover the whole day and now you can pick up a book that charts a typical school day in a top British public school at the turn of the twenty-first century. It’s great to be able to see such a tangible product at the end of a school project, and I hope that all staff and pupils involved really like what has been achieved, and enjoy seeing their contributions in the book.

Hopefully, a lot of people will enjoy reading this volume, especially as it commemorates the 500th birthday of the school and all the profits are being donated to the school’s bursary funds. So here’s hoping that this publication will provide a lasting legacy for the education of gifted children years down the line!

Now available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

Now available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

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New book sent to the press!

cover of bookJust a quick announcement to say how happy I am that we’ve managed to secure a publisher for our school project. In February the school celebrated its 500th birthday, and we asked each member of the school – staff, boys (aged 4-18), cleaners, support staff, and caterers – to record what they were doing at any part of their working day in 100 words. I’ve finished editing all the reports, and I’m pleased to say that we have a minute-by-minute snapshot of the school on its 500th birthday from over 800 perspectives.

I was originally planning on releasing the book just on Kindle, but I am very pleased to be able to tell you that there will be a physical edition of the book as well! You will be able to buy paperback copies of the books from Amazon, or download it straight to your Kindle.

All proceeds from the sale of this volume will be donated to the school’s bursary funds which provide crucial financial help to children from all backgrounds.

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Publishing a New Book – Cover Just Finished!

We’ve just finished working on the cover for the Kindle release of our new book – check it out!

The Lady in Waiting

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been preparing a new book for publication on behalf of my Dad. John Knifton has been editing a commemorative volume as part of the celebrations of Nottingham High School’s 500th anniversary (the school was originally opened way back in the days of Henry VIII). All profits from this book will be donated to the school’s bursary funds, which enable gifted boys from all backgrounds to attend the school.

500 Happy Returns: Nottingham High School’s Birthdayis a unique celebration of the school’s anniversary, recording the events of the day from a huge range of perspectives. A few weeks ago, on February 1st, everybody at Nottingham High School was invited to write a short description of what they had done in any given part of their day. This included all the teachers, all the support staff and all the boys, from the very youngest…

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New Book Coming Soon!

John Knifton blog picSometime in the next couple of weeks I’ll be publishing my new book about the 500th anniversary of Nottingham High School.

500 Happy Returns: Nottingham High School’s Birthday is a unique celebration of the school’s anniversary, recording the events of the day from a huge range of perspectives. A few weeks ago, on February 1st, everybody at Nottingham High School was invited to write a short description of what they had done in any given part of their day. This included all the teachers, all the support staff and all the boys, from the very youngest in Lovell House (aged 4) to the young men of Year 13.

I have now finally finished collating the results, which total almost 800 individual contributions. It has produced a fascinating, and perhaps poignant, minute-by-minute snap shot of life in a public school at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

As soon as the book is published I will post details of how to get a copy on this website, so please come back soon.

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