Robert Cruishank’s image “John Bull Taking a Clear View of the Negro Slavery Question!!,” illustrates that slavery was gainful and helpful to many people. The picture is a form of propaganda used to tease the abolition of slavery. Looking at Equiano’s Narrative, he believes that slavery should be abolished, but realizes that the economy profits from slavery in this quote:
“Tortures, murder, and every other imaginable barbarity and iniquity are practised upon the poor slaves with impunity. I hope the slave-trade will be abolished. I pray it may be an event at hand. The great body of manufacturers, uniting in the cause, will considerably facilitate and expedite it; and, as I have already stated, it is most substantially their interest and advantage, and as such the nation’s at large…”(Equino 116).
In this quote, Equiano refers to the abuse and slander that slaves are treated by their masters and that the slave trade needs to be abolished completely. I personally do not believe that this image illustrates anti or pro slavery because as mentioned in the quote above, the economy was fueled by slavery although it was wrong. The image shows Quakers who are interested in East India Sugar which again, proves the economic interest.
Many of my peers, as well as myself are quick to choose that the image, as well as the text are either anti or pro slavery. However, as I was reading one of my classmate’s blog posts, I realized there’s a middle/medium to every story or argument. The telescope in the picture is covered by a drawing or illustration of what seems to be a barbaric treatment of slaves. What it’s covering are the foreigners in the background that seem happy and at ease. I believe this picture represents a form of propaganda to be funny and make a mockery of out slavery. However, it should not steer away from the issue that slavery truly is and was wrong.