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This evenings Meet the Author program features Adam Hochschild, author of Bury the Chains: The Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves. His new book chronicles the first and influential grass roots human rights campaign to end slavery throughout the British Empire in the late 18th century. Adam Hochschild is also the author of The Mirror at Midnight, The South African Journey, The Unquiet Ghost, Russians Remember Stalin and Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son. His collection, Finding the Trap Door: Essays, Portraits and Travels won the PEN for the art of the essay. And his book King Leopold's Ghost, a story of greed, terror and heroism in colonial Africa was a finalist for the National Book Critic's Circle Award. His books have been translated into eleven languages. Mr. Hochschild has also written for The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Granada, The New York Times Magazine, and many other newspapers and magazines. His articles have won awards from the Overseas Press Club, The Society of Professional Journalists, and Society of American Travel Writers. A co-founder of Mother Jones Magazine, he has also been a commentator on NPR's All Things Considered, and he teaches writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and has been a Fulbright lecturer in India. Please join me in welcoming Adam Hochschild. Well thank you very much Jim. It's a pleasure to be here, and to see so many friends. I hope those of you sitting over there are going to be able to see the screen okay, because I am going to be showing slides. If you can't, there are a few seats over on this side. Can we turn down the lights a little bit, okay? I'm always a little bit nervous when I begin to do this, because even though I am not new to the writing of books, I am new to presenting them with a computerized slide show, and the first time I did this a couple of months ago, something went wrong with my computer, and it suddenly started projecting my email on the screen. So if you see Outlook Express, you'll know we are not in the 18th century where we are meant to be. This is a story that takes place some 200 years ago, begins in fact even a little more than 200 years ago. But it's one that I take a lot of inspiration from, and I hope you will too. And we'll feel some echoes from it of what might happen, what could happen in the world today. Let's begin by rolling back the clock to the world as it appeared at the end of the 18th century, the late 1700's. One of the really surprising things about the world in that point in time is that roughly three quarters of the people in it were in slavery or servitude of one kind or another. Just going from left to right across the map, in the Americas, North America, Central America, South America, The Caribbean, there were of course millions of slaves of African decent. In Africa itself---Africa south of the Sahara---most societies were in one form or another, slave societies, which is why European and American sea captains sailing down the west coast of Africa could so easily find slaves to buy. In the Arab and Islamic world, there were also millions of African Slaves. The slave trade in that direction, from the east coast of Africa had been going on even longer than the Atlantic slave trade. Going further to the east in China and India, the vast majority of the population were peasant land---were peasant laborers, in debt bondage to land owners that tied them to a particular landlord as closely as any slave was tied to a plantation owner, in the American South. In Russia, most people were serfs. So this was a world, late 1700's, that took slavery for granted. Now the busiest slave traffic in that world was the trade across the Atlantic Ocean, which began in the interior of Africa, where African slave traders marched their caravans of captives to the coast. That of course is where they were then sold to the slave ships from Europe and from the United States, which came down the coast of Africa. Now one of the remarkable things about the slave trade at that time, the Atlantic slave trade, was the extent to which it was dominated by one quite small country, Great Brittan. British ships carried roughly half the slaves that crossed the Atlantic in period, because they carried them not just to British Colonies in the Americas, but to other people's colonies and to the American South. So roughly 40,000 slaves a year were transported in British ships, like this one, which sailed out of the Port of Liverpool. The British so dominated the Atlantic slave trade that they owned most of the great slave castles on the west coast of Africa, like this one at Cape Coast, Ghana which is still standing today. And it was of course, from the dungeons of these great fortresses that slaves were then loaded onto the Atlantic slave ships, in of course horribly packed, damp, dangerous, uncomfortable conditions below decks. This drawing, which was made in the era itself, shows British sailors on the right hand side removing the body of a slave who has died during the night. There were more than 300 documented uprisings on Atlantic slave ships. But very, very few of them were in any way successful, and the vast majority of slaves survived the journey to be sold once they reached the other side of the ocean. Now here's another map of the Atlantic slave trade that shows something else. The thickness of the lines you can see going across the ocean, those darker lines represent the relative numbers of slaves taken to different portions of the Americas, and those lines tell a very interesting story. Even though the United States ultimately ended up with the largest slave population of all, some four million by the time of the American Civil War, the line going there is very thin, and it's incredibly thick, more that 60% of the trans-Atlantic slave traffic going to the West Indies. The reason for this was that because the number of factors: the extremely hot climate in the West Indies, the prevalence of tropical diseases, the nature of the labor that people were doing there, and the particularly abysmal died given to slaves in that particular region, the death rate on the Caribbean Islands was so high, that if it were not for the constant re-supply of new slaves that kept coming across the ocean, the slave population of the West Indian islands would be dropping steadily two to four percent a year. Now the West Indies are important for the story here, for another reason as well. Which is after the American Revolution, which is when the British lost those 13 troublesome colonies on the mainland, the West Indies were where virtually all British Empire slaves were. And keep in mind that at this time in history, the British thought that while losing the 13 American colonies to the North while unfortunate, was economically inconsequential, because the real wealth of their empire lay in the West Indian Islands that they owned. Why was this? It was because those islands were the source of sugar, and sugar was the single most valuable product in terms of monetary imported into Britain in the 18th century. Europe had developed a tremendous sweet tooth, and the great majority in the British West Indies worked, as they do here, in the sugar cane fields. Other slaves, after---as the sugar cane was cut, carried it to the mill, and there fed it between these rollers, over on the left hand side of the picture, where the juice could be squeezed out of the cane. Then the sugar cane juice was boiled in these big vats, in something called the boiling house, then allowed to cool and coagulate into sugar. Other slaves worked feeding the furnaces of the boiling houses with the crushed and dried sugar cane that had had the juice squeezed out of it, and you can imagine how hot that work was, feeding a roaring furnace in a climate where the temperature outside might be 110, a 115 degrees in the shade to begin with. Now another feature of West Indian slavery that made it somewhat different from slavery in the American South is that rebellions were very frequent. The reason for this was that on every West Indian Island, slaves far outnumbered Europeans. Just to take British territory, on Barbados the ratio was about 5 to 1, Jamaica it was about 10 to 1, some of the smaller islands it could be 15 or 20 to 1. So that meant, the whites were always in great fear of a slave uprising. The slaves were always thinking, hoping, thinking there is so many of us, there's so few of them, if we could just seize the right arms we could overpower them. So dozens of slave revolts broke out in the Caribbean, large and small, but virtually all of the suppressed brutally and quickly. The slaves lived in very primitive, cramped conditions. This photograph was actually taken after emancipation in Jamaica, but it shows the kind of one roomed simple hut that slave families typically lived in, and keep in mind that there might be two or three slave families living inside a single one of thesethesethese single room huts. The thatched roofs were very flimsy and almost invariably blew away in hurricanes. The planters lived of course, in much greater comfort, particularly on the island of Jamaica which was considered the jewel of the British colonies, and which was where young men in Britain who wanted to get rich went to make their fortune. And many of them did. And in the other islands as well, and then they would bring it back---bring the money they made back to England. This for example is the dining room of a man named John Pinney, who was for some 20 years a British planter on the island of Nevis in the West Indies. Then he returned to Bristol, built a fancy mansion and became a wealthy sugar merchant there. He was just one of many, many people, hundreds of thousands of people in Brittan who directly or indirectly benefited from the slave trade, and slavery itself, either through ownership, or partial ownership of plantations in the West Indies, through being merchants that supplied those plantations or sold their produce, or through their involvement in the shipping industry that fielded that huge fleet of slave ships. Slave profits underlay all sorts of intuitions in British life. For example it was profits from a slave plantation on Barbados that built the library of All Souls College, Oxford which is still called by the name of the plantation owner. For all these reasons in many ways, Britain was as unlikely a place for an anti-slavery movement to develop. As it would be today, for example, to see a movement for renewable energy take birth in Saudi Arabia, there simply seem to be too many people who in one way or another were profiting from slavery and the slave trade. But in the year of 1783, a chain of events began which changed all this. And it began with the man in this picture whose name was Olaudah Equiano. He was a former slave, who had been a slave in the West Indies and had earned his own freedom. He had been a slave sailor on a small ship sailing between the islands there. And by trading on the side buying goods on one island, selling them on another, he was able to amass enough money to buy his freedom, to buy himself from his owner for a sum of 70 pounds. He was literate. After becoming free he quickly made his way away from the West Indies to Brittan itself, and lived most of the rest of his life there. One day in 1783 Equiano picked up a London newspaper, and in it read a story that horrified him. It described how some months earlier on a British slave ship, sailing from Africa to Jamaica the captain had ordered 130 sick and dying slaves thrown overboard along alive to their deaths, to drown at sea. He was horrified at this. We don't know exactly what ran through his mind at that moment. But my guess is that he hoped that this incident, so shocking might at last be something that he had long been looking for, which was a wedge, a way of getting the British public to feel toward slavery, some of the same outrage that he felt himself. What we do know is that as soon a Equiano saw that item in the newspaper he ran to see a friend of his, and Englishman named Granville Sharp who was a great eccentric, a talented musician, a self taught lawyer, a pamphleteer on many subjects, and one of the very few people in Brittan who had openly and vocally taken a strong stand against slavery. Sharp was likewise outraged at the incident of the 130 slaves being thrown overboard to their deaths, and he immediately sat down and wrote a great fuselage of letters on the subject, to everybody influential he could think of. Influential bishops and clergymen, members of parliament, members of the cabinet, trying to get other people to share the outrage he felt about this. So far as he knew, and he was very disappointed, these letters had no effect. He could not get any more press coverage for this episode. He couldn't get a single member of parliament to take up the cause, of doing something about slavery or the slave trade However one of his letters came into the hands of a man, who the following year, 1784, became Vice Chancellor---the equivalent of an American University President---of Cambridge University. And this person whose name was Reverent Peter Peckard was quite disturbed by this episode, by slavery and the slave trade generally, and so he decided to useto bring some public attention to this issue. He trieddecided to use the most powerful tool that a British University President in this era had at his command, namely he made the morality of slavery the subject of the annual Cambridge University Latin essay contest. Now winning one of these Latin prizes at Oxford of Cambridge was a huge thing. It was like winning the Heisman Trophy in college football, or winning a road scholarship. It was one of those honors which stayed bracketed with you name for the rest of your life. For example, at this point in history, everybody knew, everybody in England knew that the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Mansfield had some 40 years earlier, while a student at Oxford won the Latin poetry competition beating out his life long rival, the future Prime Minister William Pitt who made a fatal spelling error. So it was a huge thing to win one of these Latin prizes. Well, 1785, the year that this competition took place, one of the people who entered it was a 25 year old divinity student named Thomas Clarkson. He was somebody who had no previous interest in slavery or the slave trade. He just wanted to win that big Latin prize, but he was a very diligent researcher, and kind of a natural investigative journalist. He read everything he could find about slavery, and then he went out and interviewed everyone he could find, who could tell him about it firsthand, including for instance his own brother, who had just returned after seven years as a Royal Navy officer in the West Indies, who said you want to know about slavery. I can tell you. I've seen it up close. This is what they do to people. Clarkson was absolutely bulled over with horror, at what he found out about slavery and the slave trade, and he writes about this very movingly. Describes how he left a candle burning in his room all night long in case some thought occurred to him in the middle of the night that he could get up and jot down that would be useful in writing this essay. So he wrote his essay, won the Prize. Read his essay aloud in Latin---in this building at Cambridge which is still there today---and then he got on the horse that he owned and set off for London, having just graduated, to make his way in the world. Half way to London, he reached the point where the road crossed the river Lee. And here he found himself thinking, not about the pleasure of having won this big Latin prize, not about the promising career that awaited him, but about slavery. And he wrote some years late, "I sat down by the roadside, and I held my horse. Here a thought came into my mind: that if what I had written in the essay were true, it was time some person should see these calamities to their end." He got back on the horse, and he spent the remaining 61 years of his life doing everything he could to end slavery, first in the British Empire, and then in the rest of the world. On this journey he continued to London on horseback, and there he spent some months contacting everybody he could find who could tell him more about just how slavery and the slave trade worked. He wanted to understand the system thoroughly because he was looking for areas of vulnerability, and he found some Also, he was trying to round up everybody that he could find who could be persuaded to be part of a movement to combat slavery. He talked for example to Olaudah Equiano, and a number of other former slaves living in London. He spoke to a man named John Newton, who we remember as the person who wrote everybody's favorite hymn, "Amazing Grace." But Newton also had spent the first 10 years of his life in the slave trade. He was in fact the Captain of a Trans Atlantic slave ship. Clarkson also spoke to a young member of parliament named William Wilberforce who agreed to take up the issue of slavery in parliament, provided Clarkson and others could generate some pressure outside. Finally after almost two years of preparatory work on May 22,1 1787, Clarkson brought together a group of 12 people in a Quaker bookstore and printing shop, in this little bookstore in London called Georgiard, which is still there today. If you know London at all, it's about two blocks away from the Bank Underground Station. And they formed themselves at this meeting into a committee with the aim of ending the slave trade within the British Empire, which was then of course the largest empire on earth Brittan was very much the superpower of the day. Now, might ask why they targeted the slave trade rather than slavery itself, which was of course something which they were all adamantly opposed to. Two reasons, one was that they felt ending the slave trade was a more achievable goal, they thought that they could get Parliament to pass that, because Parliament did have a history of regulating certain kinds of trades. But whereas abolishing slavery, they thought it was beyond what they could get Parliament at that moment to do. However, they were convinced, as incidentally all of the West Indian Planters were convinced that because of that enormously high slave death rate in the West Indies, if you cut off that slave trade they were convinced that British slavery itself would quickly wither and die. These are the minutes of their first meeting. I know it's impossible to read on the screen, but I still have to put it up there, because I think it is such an historic and important document. The first sentence simply reads, "At a meeting held for the purpose of taking the slave trade into consideration, it was resolved that the slave trade was both impolitic and unjust." Another remarkable thing about this minutes I think is that, one of the resolutions that they came to, that two thirds of the way down the page where it says: resolved, resolved, resolved, which shows you how much these 12 men were really of one mind on the subject, was that for conducting future business only three people would be a quarrel. I think that this is a historic document for this reason. The movement which very quickly sprang to life, within a matter of months after this meeting was a real first in human history. All through history, since the days of Spartacus onward, slaves and other colonized people of one sort or another had been staging revolts. Sometimes successful, more often not, but the movement that came to life in Britain around this time, was the first time ever that a large number of people in one country became outraged and stayed outrage for many years over the specter of the injustice being done to other people of another color in another part of the world. That was something that had never happened before. Couple of weeks after that first meeting, Clarkson who was not 27 years old, got on his horse again, and set off on a tour of southern England, where his first stop was a tour the Port of Bristol, and what he was trying to do here was two things. First as in everywhere he went on this trip, and he visited a number of other towns as well, he was setting up local committees in each town of local anti-slavery committees which would be in communication with the mainthe central committee in London. Secondly, what he was trying to do in places like Bristol, which was a major slave port, British ships sailed out of here to Africa to collect slaves, was to look for witnesses. He wanted to find people who had been in the slave trade or worked on slave plantations in the West Indies and had returned to Brittan, who would be willing to talk, be willing to speak or write publicly about their experiences, and above all who would be willing later on to come and testify before Parliament. Because he and committee knew that if they were going to get anywhere, they would have to get Parliament to hold hearings on this issue. So think about what a bold thing it was to do, to go looking for witnesses on a subject like this. It would be a little bit like walking into the Pentagon today, knocking on doors and say, I'm looking for whistle blowers. Nobody likes to blow the whistle on the trade which has provided them their livelihood, and maybe still providing their friends their livelihood. Nonetheless, Clarkson found some people like this, through weeks and months hanging out on the docks and pubs of Bristol, and later on was able to get them to testify before Parliament. After visiting Bristol, he went on to Liverpool, which was then the world's largest slave ship port. More than 70 ships a year sailed out of Liverpool for Africa to collect slaves, and one day as he was walking along the wharf side in Liverpool a group of slave ship officers who had found out what he was up to tried to kill him, happily, he escaped, but not without being injured. Something else happened to him in Liverpool as well. At one point Clarkson walked past the window of a ship chandler's shop. A shop that sold supplies to the slave ships and this is what he saw in the window: leg shackles on the bottom, hand cuffs at the top, thumb screws an instrument of torture on the left hand side, and this funny thing with the spikes over on the right that he couldn't figure out what it was. So he asked the shopkeeper who explained, "Well this is for when you slaves on shipboard are trying to commit suicide by not eating, this is what you use to pry their mouths open. Clarkson said, give me one of each. He then put these things in his saddlebags, and from then on everywhere he went, he would take them out and put them on the desk of the local newspaper editor and say, "I want you to write about what our British sailors are doing. These are the tools of their trade." After five months on the road, Clarkson returned to London, and over the next five years, he and the committee he had organized developed an amazing variety of tools for getting their message before the public. For example, they built this model of a slave ship---cut away model---with the slaves bodies inked in on the wood, specifically for showing to members of Parliament. One of the local committees that Clarkson set up in the port town of Plymouth, came up with this diagram, and you've probably seen it, because it's on the cover of half the books about slavery, it's on a Bob Marley record cover, it's in every TV documentary on the slave trade. It is of course a diagram showing how slaves were packed into a particular ship for the Trans Atlantic voyage. It's actually a particular ship, Brooks of Liverpool, and the diagram which was drawn very precisely is actually rather conservative. It does not show as many slaves as this ship carried on a couple of its voyages. This was, as soon as the committee in London saw this; they realized what a powerful piece of propaganda it was. They immediately ran off a bunch of copies, and sent it off to their abolitionist friend Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, sent off some more to another friend, the Marquis de Lafayette in Paris, and then they printed up 8,000 copies and put them up in pubs all over England. This was the world's first widely reproduced political poster. They also came up with the world's first logo designed for a political organization. It was done by a craftsman in one of the factories of Josiah Wedgewood, the pottery entrepreneur, who had become a member of an anti-slavery committee, and it shows a slave kneeling in chains surrounded by the legend, "Am I not a man and a brother?" Later on when women got into the act, they came up with one that showed a woman slave in chains, and the legend: "Am I not a woman, and a sister?" Here's that kneeling slave logo again, and this time it's on the side of a sugar bowl. What you can't see in this picture is what is written on the other side of this particular sugar bowl, which is "East India sugar not made by slaves." By 1792, more than 300,000 people in Brittan were boycotting West Indian sugar, refusing to eat sugar. The greatest, most widespread, best organized consumer boycott that had happened in history up to that point. And the boycott was important not, just as a way of developing a tool of organizing citizen pressure on the government, but it was also important because of who was doing it. Because who were the people in each household, who bought the food for the household, decided what to buy? It was the women, who up to this point had played no role in British public life, whatever. They had, they of course were not allowed to vote. They did not give any political speeches in public, but it was through the sugar boycott, and wearing that logo as lapel buttons, hat pins, jewelry, that women would were beginning to be able to express their feeling politically, and I think that it's no accident, that the second year of the sugar boycott, saw the publication of Mary Woltsencraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women which was the first major feminist statement in any language. Here's Thomas Clarkson again, now in his 30's. Over a seven or eight year period, he estimated, he covered 35,000 miles by horseback, all through England, Scotland and Wales. Ceaselessly organizing, setting up committees, distributing literature, always looking for witnesses, bringing them back to London when he could find them. No doubt, most of the times on those horseback rides, looking considerably more disheveled than he does in this formal portrait here. Now, the organizing that he and committees were doing, of course produced a reaction from the other side, because the slave owners were quite well organized as well. In the British House of Lords, for example, their principal spokesperson was the Duke of Clarence, who was one the of many dissolute sons of King George III. As a young man Clarence had been in the Royal Navy, in the West Indies, and so he affected naval mannerisms all his life, such as the telescope that you can see in his left hand here. When in the West Indies he'd been wined and dined by the planters, and had totally absorbed all of their attitudes towards slavery. For example, when speaking in the House of Lords against the proposal that Brittan end the slave trade, he said that this was a terrible idea, because that would mean that the trade would then get taken over by other countries, especially the dastardly French, who would not treat the slaves---and these were his words, "with such tenderness and care as they enjoyed on British ships." Well despite the efforts of people like him, the movement really did turn around British public opinion on this issue. Now I can't show you a picture of public opinion, but I can of the kind of place where it was formed---a London coffee house. There were more than 500 coffee houses in London, in this period. This was where you went to drink your one penny bowl of coffee; coffee was served in bowls like soup, and to read the newspapers Eleven daily newspapers published in London. You could read them all for that one penny. Some coffee houses became known as abolitionist hangouts. Ironically one of them, the Carolina Coffee House, was right around the corner from the coffee house in London, where London based slave ship captains collected their mail when they were in London. This change in public opinion was reflected by anti-slavery cartoons that appeared in the newspapers, and it was reflected by anti-slavery ballads that poets began writing that were then sold on street corners, and sometimes set to music. It was reflected in another way as well, nearly 400,000 people in England---more people than were eligible to vote---signed petitions to Parliament against the slave trade, and these came from across the class spectrum. For example 769 cutlers---knife makers, makers of knives, razors, scissors, scythes and that kind of thing---from the town of Sheffield which famous then as now for making that kind of stuff, signed an anti-slave trade petition saying, and I'm translating from the ornate 18th century language, you might expect us to be in favor of the slave trade, because a lot of the cutlery we make is used as trading goods on the coast of Africa, by slave ship captains, but we want to express our solidarity with our African brethren. The upshot of all of this was that in 1792, the House of Commons, the lower house of the British Parliament became the first national legislative body anywhere in the world to vote to abolish the slave trade. However, the law did not go through, because the upper house, The House of Lords, refused to back it and balked. Then in 1793, the movement received an even bigger setback that was the year that Brittan and France went to war. This was the very long war, that with only a couple of short breaks, lasted until the Battle of Waterloo more than 20 years later, and we all know that wars are not good for progressive movements. So the movement was very much in retreat. The British slave trade grew stronger than ever, by the end of the 18th century British ships were carrying more than 50,000 slaves a year across the Atlantic. This painting of the slave quarters on one incidentally was done by a Royal Navy Lieutenant, who had himself witnessed such scenes. The movement was just in total despair. Parliament, for example influenced by the slave interests, appropriated money to build these new West India docks in London, specifically for receiving ships full sugar and other produce grown by slaves in the West Indies. And slavery remained deeply embedded in the British economy. For example, Portman's Square was one of London's most exclusive addresses. Six of the thirteen mansions facing the square were owned by families whose money came from slave