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PoP's Southern American: British Misfit Dumping Ground

11/11/2011

British Misfit Dumping Ground

Contrary to popular notions, white residents of the American colonies were not a free people. After the abolition of serfdom in Mecklenburg’s duchies in the 1820’s, those emancipated white slaves were little more than landless, starving migrant workers, many of whom sold themselves to indenture in order to look for land in America.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
www.ncwbts150.com
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"


British Misfit Dumping Ground:

“At the time of the Revolution, about half the white population of the Colonies consisted of indentured laborers and their descendants. Some were orphans, debtors, paupers, mental defectives. Others had committed petty crimes. Still others were whores. Children were stolen and spirited off to be sold under indentures.

The Irish in particular were victimized. Oliver Cromwell believed that they were admirably suited for slavery and saw to it that the survivors of the Drogheda massacre met that fate in Bermuda. His agents scoured Ireland for children to be sold to planters in the Americas. Between 1717 and 1775, 50,000 English felons were transported to mainland North America. For the most part, the indentured workers settled in the South where the demand for unskilled plantation labor was greatest. American writers and politicians protested against the use of the Colonies as dumping grounds for the unwanted, the impoverished and, in some cases, the vicious and mentally inferior.

Benjamin Franklin compared British emigration policy with sending American rattlesnakes to England to teach them manners. These protests went unheeded and deportation continued until the American Revolution stopped it and forced England to turn to Australia as an alternate destination.

At the time of the Revolutionary War, opposition to slavery and the continued importation of Negroes was widespread among the intellectual and political leaders of the nascent republic. [Virginian] George Wythe, Jefferson’s teacher and friend, freed all his slaves on moral grounds. John Adams declared shortly before his death: “I have, through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in such abhorrence, that, I have never owned a negro or any other slave…”

(The Negro in American Civilization, Nathaniel Weyl, Public Affairs Press, 1960, page 23)

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