Cruinkshank and Equiano

The political cartoon by Robert Cruikshank “Clear View” is interesting because it seems to claim immorality on the part of the Quakers, who were typically abolitionist, to defend its pro-slavery anti-abolitionist views.

There are three men in the cartoon dressed as Quakers only two of which I will be discussing. The first to mention is the one who is holding a ‘picture of negro slavery’ in front of the telescope blinding the onlooker from seeing the dancing people in the land overseas, suggesting that the Quakers and abolitionist are liars in exaggerating the troubling state of African slavery. The second Quaker we see is standing with his back turned to the audience and standing on the left side to the man and child sitting to the front. The man and child are what appears to be beggars with a sign in front of them saying “Plase lo think on poor pat.”. Poor Pat refers to the Irish who were suffering from famine and were sometimes forced to immigrate due to the conditions at home. It was believed the British government was not doing enough to help them, view we can see portrayed here where Poor Pat is being neglected at the cause of everyone’s attention being centered on sugar and slavery. Interesting enough the Quaker standing next to them with a picket saying “Buy only East India Sugar Tis sinful to buy any other” has a East India Invoice in his pocket suggesting he has his own interest in the success of the East India Company’s sugar and that really his picketing is not so much to do with anything other than his own monetary gain. The man is a hypocrite, his avarice is what is driving him to oppose any other sugar company. The issue of morality and avarice is brought up by Equiano as well. He states

“Such a tendency has the slave-trade to debauch men’s minds, and harden them to every feeling to humanity! For I will not suppose that the dealers in slaves are born worse than other men- No; it is the fatality of this mistaken avarice, that it corrupts the milk and human kindness and turns it into gall. And, had the pursuits of those men been different, they might have been as generous as tender-hearted and just, as they are unfeeling, rapacious, and cruel. Surely this traffic cannot be good, which spreads like a pestilence, and taints what it touches!” p. 112-3

In this quote Equiano is referring to the inhuman way in which slave masters treat their slaves. To him it is immoral to treat slaves poorly and the whole of the slave-trade is to blame because it leads to a “mistaken avarice” that clouds any goodness in a person. Equiano understands immorality as inevitable because of the avarice that causes men to need slavery. Though it seems that this same logic of avarice causing bad is the logic used by the cartoonist to distract away from the issue of slavery and more toward the issue of famine ridden Poor Pat. It is interesting they should hold similar logic and lead to different conclusions. The notion they agree on is ‘people should be less avaricious and things will improve’ though more interesting is that they’re both hypocritical in nature. The notion that slavery is less of a problem than Poor Pat is hypocritical in that the slaves are not in fact having a party in Africa and Equiano’s later use of slaves and slave master tactics while believing he is a good master calls into question his abolitionist views.

-Araceli Garcia Munoz

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4 thoughts on “Cruinkshank and Equiano

  1. I think the strongest point is this: “The notion they agree on is ‘people should be less avaricious and things will improve’ though more interesting is that they’re both hypocritical in nature.” I think it’s interesting that you chose to focus more on what the abolitionists are “not doing,” instead of what they are doing. However, I was a bit confused as to whether or not you thought that their attention should be on the suffering Irish population and not slavery, or in addition to slavery.

    Extra Credit: 16/25

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  2. the main point is that, ” Equiano is referring to the inhuman way in which slave masters treat their slaves.” yet Cruinkshank used the same example to attack the abolitionist Quakers. I feel that to improve this you could possibly try to look and see if there were other ways the cartoonist and the writer had similar tactics for opposing agendas.

    Extra credit; 16/25

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  3. The most original idea in your blog post is “Though it seems that this same logic of avarice causing bad is the logic used by the cartoonist to distract away from the issue of slavery and more toward the issue of famine ridden Poor Pat.” To improve your post I suggest exploring Equiano’s own contradictions.

    Extra Credit 14/25

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  4. Great reference to show how Equiano feels about humane treatment to his fellow brothers. It would have been nice to see some of your opinion on that. 🙂

    EC 16/25

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