Friday, June 21, 2013

George W. Bush’s G-G-G-G-Grandfather Was a Slave Trader

First a few excerpts on George Bush's grandfather and then on the slave trade and a comparison to agency fees of Sri Lankan maids sent to the Mid-East.

Slavery was a very lucrative business. And from England, it was called the Triangle Trade, Ships would leave Liverpool to Africa with various manufactured goods, like cloth, copper ring and other produce like Cowrie shells from the Maldives.  In Africa the goods were traded for slaves. From there the ship set off for t he Carribean and what is now is the USA.  There the slaves were sold and the ship was loaded with cotton and sugar.  On arrival in England, the cotton and sugar was sold.

As with everything there is good and bad. Some of the innovative finance aspects  like shares (as in stock exchanges) and insurance started getting greater use with the slave trade.

Thomas Walker George W. Bush’s G-G-G-G-Grandfather
Thomas Walker was a notorious slave trader active in the late 18th century along the coast of West Africa. Walker, George H.W. Bush's great-great-great grandfather, was the captain of, master of, or investor in at least 11 slaving voyages to West Africa between 1784 and 1792.
Scores of European merchants and American plantation owners grew rich on the trade that transported more than 10 million Africans to North America, the Caribbean, and Brazil between 1550 and 1850. Bush's family, like many others, has previously been identified as slave owners in the United States. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, at least five Walker family households, George W. Bush’s ancestors by his father’s mother, owned slaves in Maryland’s Cecil County.
Macaulay’s journal entry for Oct. 24, 1797, is as follows: “You have heard of the noted Beau Walker, an English slave trader of these parts. He arrived at the Isles Du Los [off present-day Guinea] lately in an American Brig being bound to Cape Mount [in present-day northwest Liberia] for slaves. He had scarce arrived at the last place, when exercising his usual barbarities on his officers and crew, they were provoked to conspire against him.
The Slave Trade

Initially slaving was strictly controlled and a monopoly company, the Royal African Company, was created by Charles II, with his brother, the Duke of York and future King James II, heavily involved. But the company's monopoly was unpopular, particularly with merchants in Bristol who successfully lobbied for its removal in 1698.

The Good:
The worst incident we know of was aboard the Zong, when Captain Luke Collingwood had many sick Africans and thought they would die. He told the crew they were running out of water and over a three day period he ordered 132 slaves to be thrown overboard. His logic was that if they died from starvation his owners could not claim insurance but they could if the enslaved died from 'perils of the sea'. The insurers disputed the claim and it led to a court case - but the insurers lost

Shares (also think Venture Capitalists)
This arrangement of sharing the investment in a voyage was one long practiced by merchants trading abroad in any trade. The risk of losing a ship was a severe blow but if shared could usually be coped with. It was better to invest in say six voyages with five other people than each invest everything in a single voyage. Although the profit was shared, so also was the risk. Each voyage was made up of 64 shares and investors would often have between 6 and 8 shares but it could be smaller. Often the captain of the voyage was a small shareholder - giving him a personal interest in the outcome! Peter Potter, Captain of the Essex, for instance was the third largest shareholder in the ship in 1783

The Bad:
'When the women and girls are taken on board a ship, naked, trembling, terrified... They are often exposed to the wanton rudeness of white savages... Resistance or refusal would be utterly in vain.'
They were fed twice a day, usually on a stew made of beans and or yams and they were also allowed bread and water.  Luke Mann was instructed by his owners: 'You must not give your slaves too much provisions; they are accustomed to low diet in their own country.

The Economics
Thomas Leyland and Thomas Molyneux were equally successful with the voyage of the Enterprize in 1794.
                        1794 Cost     Current Value (USD)
               Costs*:   £12,000             1,016,400
 Sale of 356 Africans:   £22,000             1,863,400
              Profits:   £10,000               847,000
                                    ROI of  £12,000 (USD 1,000,000) :   83% Thats about USD
Thats USD 5,000 per slave in todays value.  Isnt that what is paid to agents to send a Sri Lankan maid to the  Middle East.  Looks like the prices have not changed much.
*Costs =agents' commission £3000, the cost of the cargo £4500, outfitting and other costs £2500, wages £1300, costs on the voyage £950

Links to the original articles

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