“It is one of these [more expensive] women, an Abyssinian, that M. Gérôme has taken as the principal figure of his composition. She is nude and being displayed by the djellab, who has the fine head of a brigand accustomed to every sort of abduction and violence; the idea of the eternal soul must not very often have tormented such a bandit. The poor girl is standing, submissive, humble, resigned, with a fatalistic passivity that the painter has very skillfully rendered.” Maxime Du Champ (Wikipedia)
Not every tenement dweller can become the David Livingstone of his generation, but what if that was put forth as the goal?
In terms of disease, sanitation and real poverty 19th century tenements were far worse than the modern versions in most western nations today. I wonder if the attitude was better then or was David Livingstone just a fluke. Why is it that so many great men of the 19th century rose up from poverty to do great things and to become great men?
A staunch abolitionist, fearless explorer and medical missionary Livingstone spent his childhood in a single room tenement and worked long hours at the mills in Scotland. At the end of the day he hit the books. The other day a teacher told me she didn’t have the heart to give students homework–school was too hard on the little flowers of today. One wonders if Livingstone complained to his parents about hard work.
Here’s where the victim mentality wreaks havoc on children. If a child has the right to be angry forever about the state of his life then when will he ever see that hitting the books in the evening could quite possibly lead him on a life of useful and exciting endeavors? Victimhood nurses cowardice and bitterness–two things David Livingstone seems never to have accepted into his young life of poverty. Somehow he knew that poverty of the mind (and heart) was far worse than living in a tenement for one’s soul. We know that as a missionary he must have believed in callings and God.
Sometimes it’s easy to be quite blase about explorers.
In an age when tourists like to pretend to experience past adventures but are seconds away from medical assistance and police, real explorers almost seem boring–though they shouldn’t. Livingstone on one of his many trips to Africa witnessed a brutal massacre of an entire town by Arabic slave traders and vowed to speak out against slavery. One must always remember that white, Christian men were the only abolitionists in the worldwide slave trade and were the only ones who ended slavery. We must remember this especially now when victimhood is the fashion and searching for someone to take revenge on is the rage.
In the West we die of heart disease, cancer and depression nowadays–victims of bad food, lackluster educations and endless hours watching other people do bad things on TV–yet we live in a “free” society.
We demand our right to complain. We isolate ourselves and wonder why people are so awful (the ones we meet in our office or the ones we see on TV). Totalitarian governments love dependent children. It’s so much easier to lead them by the nose.
Dear David Livingstone,
Thank you for stepping out in faith each day. Thank you for not only witnessing the evils of the slave trade but for doing something about it in your lifetime. You lost your wife to fever in Africa but never stopped exploring. You made the connection between malaria and mosquitoes and malaria and quinine. Good for you! I’m sorry I never knew more about you than the cartoon version of you.
You didn’t see your life as one to be lived demanding your personal rights but worked for the kind treatment of others–in short you gave up your life and in the end received a bigger life than most people ever dare to imagine. I wonder what drove you. I suspect it was your faith in old dead heroes and the one dead hero who rose again on the third day. It’s too bad that most heroes are banned in schools today. We need a a journalist like Henry Stanley to come looking for the likes of you even now!
“Henry Stanley was a remarkable man. Orphaned at an early age he spent his formative years in a workhouse in Wales, crossed the Atlantic at age 15 as a crewman of a merchant ship and jumped ship in New Orleans. Befriended by a local merchant, he took the man’s name – Henry Stanley – as his own and went on to fight in the Civil War before working his way into a career in journalism.”** Eyewitness to History
Stanley was sent to find Livingstone in Africa after he was presumed dead. He uttered the famous, “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” and came away from their meeting with this to say: For four months and four days I lived with David Livingstone in the same house, or in the same boat, or in the same tent, and I never found a fault in him. I am a man of quick temper, and often without sufficient cause, I dare say, have broken the ties of friendship; but with Livingstone I never had cause for resentment, but each day’s life with him added to my admiration for him.
David Livingstone in his own words sums up life like this:
“For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.”
BLACKS OWNING BLACKS:We’ve all heard that warring African tribes sold their prisoners into slavery (for much of history it was to Muslim slave traders), but just like their white counterparts some free black Americans had slaves.
“Owning slaves offered the opportunity for economic advancement for blacks (Schweninger, 22). By the mid 1700’s, black artisans and shopkeepers owned slaves in the city, while free blacks also held slaves on farms in the country. In the city of Charleston, free blacks nearly monopolized the jobs of barbers, bricklayers, shoemakers, tailors and dressmakers. They prospered in their entrepreneurial jobs and were able to earn the capital needed to purchase slaves.
Another factor in black slaveholding was the development of a class of citizens referred to as “free persons of color.” There were relationships between white masters and slave women from the beginning of African slavery in the colonies. Often these relationships resulted in mulatto children born to the slave women. In some cases, masters would treat these mulatto children as their own, and they might inherit property at the master’s death. The mothers of the mulatto children would often be manumitted, or freed for a reason, at the death of the master. The manumitted mulatto son or daughter would then become a part of the growing group of “free persons of color.” On one occasion, “the amorous relationship between the slave Tabatha Singleton and her master survived the manumission decree…. He paid the rent for her tenement and eventually conveyed a house, lot, and two slaves to her” (Powers, 1994, 38). For this reason and for other reasons, there were many female slaveholders in South Carolina, and particularly in Charleston.
From amorous relationships between masters and slaves (and free persons of color) there grew a distinct class of “brown” elites. There was a difference in the way that whites regarded free dark-skinned blacks and light-skinned blacks. Light-skinned blacks were considered closer to white in the social stratification in southern society. A racial stratification developed into a three-tiered model with whites on the top, mulattoes and free blacks (of light complexion, mostly), and slaves. Slaveholding free blacks were considered at the top of the second tier, the most respected blacks of all in white society.
A third factor in the development of black slaveholding was the desire of “free persons of color” to operate in the economic world of white slaveholders and to be as equal to whites as possible. By the mid 1700’s to early 1800’s, most free blacks considered themselves more American than they did African, for almost all of them had been born on American soil, free or slave. They wanted to live the same life as whites, and they saw slaveholding as a way to become more equal with their white counterparts.
An important fourth and final factor in black slaveholding was the economic profitability of using slaves to work in jobs and businesses owned by “free persons of color.” “In a society that vested the ownership of one many in another, slaves represented another form of property held by free blacks.” (Powers, 1994, 39) Early on in the colony of South Carolina, mulattoes were often trained as artisans and were able to earn the money to purchase slaves by working. They were commercial masters who aligned themselves with the white majority in order to preserve the system of slavery. (Koger, 1985, 30) As this practice progressed, the black slaveholders often had the same incentives as whites to own slaves.” TEACHING US HISTORY
DESPITE THE DEATHS OF 600,000 MEN IN THE CIVIL WAR SLAVERY DID NOT END ON THE CONTINENT. Native Americans had to be forced to give up slavery:
EUROPEAN SLAVERS CAME LATE TO THE GAME AND GOT OUT EARLY. If you don’t know who William Wilberforce is you should: “He was only five feet tall and rather homely, by most accounts, but William Wilberforce had a smooth and powerful way of speaking. It wasn’t easy, but this Christian politician managed to talk the British Empire into abolishing slavery.” WILLIAM WILBERFORCE vs. SLAVERY
Westerners saw their slaves as an investment (still gross) but not as throwaway tools. Here’s an excerpt from a story on modern slavery comparing the going price for a modern slave to one in 19th century US:
“I live in New York — a three-hour flight down to Port au Prince, Haiti, and an hour from the airport — I was able to negotiate for a 10-year-old girl for cleaning and cooking, permanent possession and sexual favors. What do you think the asking price was?
TM: I don’t know … $7,500?
BS: They asked for $100, and I talked them down to $50. Now to put that in context: Going back to the time when my abolitionist ancestors were on their soapbox, in 1850, you could buy a healthy grown male for the equivalent of about $40,000.
TM: When I first read such big numbers, I was shocked.
BS: This is not to diminish the horrors that those workers would face, nor to diminish their dehumanization one bit. It was an abomination then as it is today. But in the mid-19th century, masters viewed their slaves as an investment.” READ MORE ABOUT THE MODERN SLAVE TRADE HERE: THERE ARE MORE SLAVES TODAY THAN AT ANY TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY
Here are10 FACTS ABOUT THE ARAB SLAVE TRADE YOU DIDN’T REALLY WANT TO KNOW (preview: Black boys between the age of 8 and 12 had their scrotums and penises completely amputated to prevent them from reproducing. About six of every 10 boys bled to death during the procedure, according to some sources, but the high price brought by eunuchs on the market made the practice profitable.)
THANK GOD FOR MEN LIKE WILBERFORCE right?
Now if you have the time I HIGHLY recommend you watch this illuminating video on the history of slavery. You make think you know all about it but I think you’ll be surprised. Only watch it if you want to think. 🙂 I may not agree with everything in it but . . .well, you’ll see.