Scale

“. . . between early 1859 and the summer of 1860,” about one hundred slavers set sail from New York.

Initially engaged in legal business in commodities like ivory and palm oil, ship owners and captains were lured by the tremendous profits to be gained in slaving. Investors were drawn from all quarters of New York and Brooklyn; two female investors netted astonishing profits of nearly $40,000 on their initial outlay. With a cost of only about $35,000, successful slavers could garner a half million dollars’ profit. And by paying only about one hundred dollars each for African men, women, and children who could be sold across the Atlantic for as much as $2,000 each, there is little wonder that the trade continued unabated . . . Some ships had nearly nine hundred people packed on board . . . in just the years 1859 and 1860, some fifty-three thousand African people were forcibly taken from West Africa to Cuba.

pp. 259 – 260, The Kidnapping Club: Wall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of the Civil War, by Jonathan Daniel Wells

Nonfiction 2020: Illuminating

The Birth of the Republican Party

First there was a pro-slavery Democratic party, which had packed the courts (It is hard for me to read this in The Kidnapping Club, as I have been a staunch Democrat since the moment I could vote)

  • An antislavery branch of the Democratic Party was created in 1853, calling itself the Free Democratic League, “a party that would adhere to the principle that America as a nation operated under the basic idea that freedom was the fundamental assumption, and that slavery could only exist under local laws. In addition to declaring itself anti-slavery, the league advocated the construction of a railroad to the Pacific, the establishment of cheap overseas postage, the welcoming of immigrants, the reduction of taxes and crime, and a host of other measures.” The League dissolved in 1854 and many of its prospective members joined the new Republican party.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Self Learns New Things Every Day

So far, in her reading of The Kidnapping Club: Wall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of Civil War, by Jonathan Daniel Wells, self has learned that:

  • “The classic dish Lobster Newburg, according to legend, was actually developed by” a wealthy slave trafficker named Ben Weinberg, a prominent member of the New York Maritime Exchange.
  • The biggest slave traders “were natives of Portland, Maine . . . that town was infamous for helping to outfit ships” for the slave trade.
  • One of the most prominent defenders of the slave trade was a lawyer named Gilbert Dean, a graduate of Yale and justice of the New York Supreme Court whose law firm, Beebe, Dean, and Donohue, on 76 Wall Street, “not only aggressively defended accused slavers, but also sued accusers for libel,” which included “officers of the British navy” who had apprehended the captain of a slave ship and pressed charges against the ship’s captain and its owners.
  • The SDNY was so famously nonchalant for “prosecuting slavers” that a Captain Cornelius E. Driscoll boasted that “you don’t have to worry about facing trial in New York City . . . I can get any man off in New York for $1,000.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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