Equiano’s Abolition

The first painting, John Bull Taking a Clear View of the Negro Slavery Question, questions the motives of abolition, asserting through subtle political cues that abolitionists are “in it for the money.” The man who claims it is a sin to buy anything other than East India sugar has stock in the East India company. Where the Africans are seen dancing, there is a trick in place to make them appear tortured, to make the general populace agree: slavery should be gotten rid of.

In many ways, this straw-man critique of “oh hey look, abolitionists are bad” can actually be targeted at Equiano. Equiano is one of the abolitionists who wants to see slavery removed for economic reasons. Equiano says “a commercial intercourse with Africa opens an inexhaustible source of wealth to the manufacturing interests of Great Britain… The abolition of slavery, so diabolical, will give a most rapid extension of manufactures, which is totally and diametrically opposed to what some interested people assert.” Here Equiano takes the slavery question, the torturous, “diabolical” act of slavery, and calmly, casually, looks at the question and provides an answer to the question. Equiano says, “listen. If we stop the slave trade, we get to go to Africa, colonize that too, and increase our manufacture. Nobody wants to trade with the diabolical masters. Even if you think slavery is good for industry, you’re thinking small scale, plantation size. Let’s go big scale. Let’s think on a continental scale.”

In this way, Equiano partially exemplifies the abolitionists in the “Clear View” painting. He is the money driven abolitionist who is more economic than moral, but he is not the emotionally manipulative, East India stockholder. He is a calm, rational, money-driven ass.

-Ross Koppel

 

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4 thoughts on “Equiano’s Abolition

  1. I think the main point you are making here is: “Here Equiano takes the slavery question, the torturous, “diabolical” act of slavery, and calmly, casually, looks at the question and provides an answer to the question.” I think you drive this point home strong. My favorite part of this post is where you, yourself, take a satirical tone when you give an example of what Equiano’s pitch might have sounded like today. The main thing I think you could do in order to make this post better (other than just expand on your explanation of how Equiano is an abolitionist himself) would be to give this blog a witty, satirical title. I am always more drawn to posts with witty titles and they are a great way to hook your reader early on, especially if you’re delving in satire.

    Extra Credit: 4/25

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  2. Your main point is… hidden to me, your posts makes it hard to determine whether your arguing against the cartoonist or against Equiano. If you elaborate on what your main point is, it’d make it more clear as to what you’re getting at. As for your most original idea, your description of Equiano in the final sentence was rather interesting and makes me curious as to what caused you to write that.

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  3. The most original idea in this blog post is: “In many ways, this straw-man critique of “oh hey look, abolitionists are bad” can actually be targeted at Equiano.” Another strong element of your post is the informal and satirical tone you write it in. This topic is very sensitive and can be hard to talk about. Your humorous tone allows the reader to feel more comfortable approaching and thinking about the topics of slavery and an economy which thrives off of it. Your post can be improved by describing the image in more detail. This will allow the reader to understand your point better since we cannot assume all who read this post have seen the cartoon.

    Extra Credit 3/25

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  4. I enjoy that you see Equiano realizes that all of this is occurring for the best interest of the UK as usual. Make sure to properly cite where the quotes are coming from.

    EC 4/25

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