I was very pleased to see the excellent analyses of slavery and race relations you printed in Guardian Opinion by two black Bristol-based academics (David Olusoga: “An attack on history? No, the fall of Colston is history itself,” 9 June; and Olivette Otele: “The UK must confront its shameful past- and present,” 10 June).
I came across two very revealing vignettes of the mentality of the epoch when slavery dominated the economics of the British Empire and its expropriation of wealth from the colonies being brutally established across the globe
In his 480 page study of empire, “The Imperial Achievement” (1974, p.86) Oxford academic John Bowle records the then chief justice of Caribbean island Nevis, John Pinney, writing home to his family in Dorset in 1764 having visited his sugar plantation recorded “I assure you I was shocked at the first appearance of human flesh exposed for sale. But surely God ordained them for the use and benefit of us; otherwise the Divine will would have been made manifest by some particular sign or token.”
In another magisterial study “The Slave Trade: the history of the Atlantic Slave Trade 1440-1870”, by historian Hugh Thomas - which makes no mention of slave trader Edward Colston in its 925 pages – does however record that 35 years before the demeaning letter from Pinney disparaging slaves, that Humphrey Maurice MP, was not only dubbed the “Prince of London slave merchants”, but between 1727-28 was so highly respected, he was also the Governor of the Bank of England.
They were appallingly inhumane times, whose legacy lives on in the institutional racism still embedded in many conservative institutions in our modern day society, as members of BAME communities can all too painfully attest from their daily experience..