Institute of advanced legal studies

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Slave Trade Reparations (SteR)
School of Oriental and African Studies

University of London


Fernne Brennan©

(17TH March 2009)
Should reparations be made for the Transatlantic Slave Trade?
The first requirement is to recognise that the problem exists. The second requirement is to understand and draw the right conclusions and the third requirement is to do something about them” (from Crispin Tickell in the Foreword to James Lovelock, the Revenge of Gaia (2006)).

Chattel Slavery
Discussion: What is European Chattel Slavery?
Chattel slavery consists of the systematic de-humanisation of people for the purpose of the advancement of economic commerce. Blackburn
Europeans who bought Africans treated them as subhuman: they raped, tortured, mutilated, and murdered slaves with impunity. In the Eyes of many Europeans, all Africans were things to be bought, sold, used and abused. That some Africans were sellers while others were slaves was a mere matter of contingency, not one that humanised some Africans while dehumanizing others. Michael, a professor from Congo said that “Slavery degraded people. The slave lost his human personality….Not only was he completely deracinated (tear up by the roots) but he was treated as an animal, a beast, sold as a slave, sold. And when you sell someone, my God, it’s not a human being, treated as a slave, flogged… He was even robbed of the fullness of thought. People said it’s absolutely forbidden to think.” Howard-Hassman
The majority of the slaves accommodated themselves to this unceasing brutality by a profound fatalism and a wooden stupidity before their masters. One old Negro, having lost one of his ears and condemned to lose another, begged the Governor to spare it, for if that too was cut off he have nowhere to put his stump of cigarette.” James
The Holocaust of enslavement expresses itself in three basic ways: the morally monstrous destruction of human life, human culture and human possibility.” Karenga  
“No African trade, no Negroes, no Negroes, no sugar, no sugar no islands, no island no Continent, no Continent no trade.” Sherwood

The Zong - Gregson v Gilbert (1783) 99 ER 629. [2] Act 3 & 4 William IV. C. 73. (1783), was an infamous case brought before the then Chief Justice Lord Mansfield a judge whose judicial work was “powerfully guided by the aim of promoting the mercantile economy of England.” The captain of the Zong en route to Jamaica bound over 130 slaves together and threw them overboard into the sea where they drowned. This mass murder was treated as loss of property to the owners of the ship who claimed insurance on the murdered slaves. The owners argued that the killings took place to enable the remaining slaves and crew to survive. The owners were awarded damages in which the losses were allowed; but in an appeal hearing before Mansfield and two others this judgment was overturned, since the captain’s mistake could not be called a “Peril of the Sea,” and there were a number of factors suggesting that water supplies were not seriously depleted. Murder was not the issue in law: Despite commenting on the shocking nature of the case, Mansfield insisted repeatedly that in law it was as if horses had been jettisoned.” Krikler

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