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Thread: The African Squandron

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    The African Squandron

    Just finished reading a book on the US Navy's "efforts" to stop the African slave trade. Fascinating tidbits of history, laced with tons of politics!

    Basically, officially, the US had a squadron of navy ships assigned to stop "slavers" the term for slave ships. But, from 1819 to 1858 it was a lame effort, a token show that "look! we are doing something to stop slavery." A joke. Big time businessmen, mostly big bankers, financed the slavers. The most famous (infamous) of which was the Wanderer. A very, very, fast schooner that could out-run any navy ship, including the navy's sloops and Britain's fastest ships too. A New York coalition of bankers financed the Wanderer via a Savannah businessman who served as their front guy. The Wanderer could stuff 405 slaves into its smallish cargo holes and make the roundtrip to Africa monthly, provided the other logistics could keep up. At today's dollars, that was $9 million worth of slaves. It was never caught.

    The other two most notorious slavers were the Cora and the Martha. Although they were not that much more "successful" in the slave trade than other slavers they came to be known as the prized catch for the navies chasing after them. The Martha was stopped in 1850 by the USS Perry. The Brits were both congratulatory and envious. The British Naval Command sent a letter to its captains "don't let the Americans get the Cora too." No one got the Cora.

    From 1819 through the 1840's the US Navy did not make any real effort to interdict the slave trade. In fact! it aided the slave trade! Not directly, but by providing escorts to any merchant vessels flying the American flag. This stemmed from the US's disdain for the British stopping US ships and taking US merchant sailors at gun point and forcing them to serve in the Royal Navy. That was a big reason we declared war on Britain, the War of 1812. The hard feelings lingered into the 1840's. So, we dared a British ship to stop a US merchant vessel. The slave traders recognized the opportunity and started flying the American flag, even seeking out a US Navy ship to escort them across the Atlantic. But, by the early 1850's this practiced stopped and the US Navy ships were ordered to board and inspect any ship asking for an escort.

    Still, the US made only a token effort at stopping the slave trade. There was too much money to be made by bankers, investors, ship-owners (ships were leased to slave traders), and by good ole politicians, north and South. Mostly, the US assigned just 4 ships, three of them frigates, which packed a lot of firepower, but which were too slow to catch the slavers. Only the USS Constellation, a sloop, was effective in catching slavers. Then in 1858, under a lot of political pressure from the "evil" Republicans, President Buchanan finally took action and established The African Squadron. In one year the US Navy captured 14 slavers and returned 3,032 Africans to their homeland.

    By the 1850's there was a lot of conflicting political pressure being employed in the US. Some Southerners, big slave traders, wanted the international slave trade stopped, thus making their slaves more valuable to other planters. But, northern interests, as I mentioned, worked from the other side because of the money that could be made. By the 1850's ALL of the African slaves were taken either to Cuba or Brazil. Then some of them, especially from Cuba, were smuggled into the US.

    James DeWolfe is one example of a northern "prominent" businessman who financed the slave trade and got rich. He supported politicians who would help protect the trade, and him. Another prominent family that got its wealth from the slave trades were the Browns of Rhode Island. Yes...Brown University is named for the patriarch of this family who donated money to have the school established. It was the Rhode Island Institute at that time, later renamed in his honor. Hmmmm....wonder if the lefties will demand Brown U. change its name.

    Follow the money trail...

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    Re: The African Squandron

    Oops...misspelled "squadron" in the title.

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    Re: The African Squandron

    That's very interesting!

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    Re: The African Squandron

    The Bowie brothers were also notorious slave traders. The slavers would bring them to Galveston Island or Bolivar Peninsula where they were illegal anyway being in Mexico. Then the Bowie brothers would bring them to Louisiana where they would be caught by the Feds. The Feds simply auctioned the illegal slaves and the Bowies bought them for resale. The Bowies were also into land fraud, especially along the Bayous (Teche etc) where they would forge French/Spanish era deeds. The US land office where the deeds were examined was in Mississippi and it took quite a while for them to be verified or turned down. After being run out of South Louisiana they went to Arkansas. Jim Bowie used his fake land deeds as a dowry when he married the daughter of the Mayor (Alcalde) of San Antonio. Then his wife died of a fever -- the same thing he probably died of at the Alamo or was at least comatose.

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    Re: The African Squandron

    Quote Originally Posted by Houston Techsan View Post
    The Bowie brothers were also notorious slave traders. The slavers would bring them to Galveston Island or Bolivar Peninsula where they were illegal anyway being in Mexico. Then the Bowie brothers would bring them to Louisiana where they would be caught by the Feds. The Feds simply auctioned the illegal slaves and the Bowies bought them for resale. The Bowies were also into land fraud, especially along the Bayous (Teche etc) where they would forge French/Spanish era deeds. The US land office where the deeds were examined was in Mississippi and it took quite a while for them to be verified or turned down. After being run out of South Louisiana they went to Arkansas. Jim Bowie used his fake land deeds as a dowry when he married the daughter of the Mayor (Alcalde) of San Antonio. Then his wife died of a fever -- the same thing he probably died of at the Alamo or was at least comatose.
    They sound almost as crooked as LBJ.

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    Re: The African Squandron

    Quote Originally Posted by dawg80 View Post
    Another prominent family that got its wealth from the slave trades were the Browns of Rhode Island. Yes...Brown University is named for the patriarch of this family who donated money to have the school established. It was the Rhode Island Institute at that time, later renamed in his honor. Hmmmm....wonder if the lefties will demand Brown U. change its name.

    Follow the money trail...
    I think Brown, Sr was the one financing slave expeditions and smuggling, and Brown, Jr. gave the money that led to the name of the University.

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    Re: The African Squandron

    Yes, I always thought that the Yankees made all the money bringing slaves over (legal or not) and then were self righteous in supporting abolition. Actually John Paul Jones ran a slave ship before the American Revolution under the name Jock Paul. He changed his name because of the notoriety.

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    Re: The African Squandron

    Is the book an actual good read? I’ve had it in my wishlist and am looking for something new to read.
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    Re: The African Squandron

    Quote Originally Posted by Houston Techsan View Post
    Yes, I always thought that the Yankees made all the money bringing slaves over (legal or not) and then were self righteous in supporting abolition. Actually John Paul Jones ran a slave ship before the American Revolution under the name Jock Paul. He changed his name because of the notoriety.
    Pretty easy to make it past the evil of slavery once you've already made your money from it.

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    Re: The African Squandron

    Quote Originally Posted by inudesu View Post
    I think Brown, Sr was the one financing slave expeditions and smuggling, and Brown, Jr. gave the money that led to the name of the University.
    And where did junior get his money from, or at least, a large portion of it?

  11. #11
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    Re: The African Squandron

    Quote Originally Posted by inudesu View Post
    I think Brown, Sr was the one financing slave expeditions and smuggling, and Brown, Jr. gave the money that led to the name of the University.
    Quote Originally Posted by dawg80 View Post
    And where did junior get his money from, or at least, a large portion of it?
    George Soros 1/2 and the Clinton Foundation the other 1/2.

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