16 SEPTEMBER

THE SPECTATOR – ‘NEGROES ARE MADE ON PURPOSE TO SERVE THE WHITES.’

Brantz Mayer – ‘Inspection and sale of a Negro,’ c. 1854 via Wikimedia Commons.

[ 16 September 1865 ]

In the 1860s, The Spectator was one of Britain’s leading weekly magazines with a relatively progressive reputation. It had, among other liberal causes, supported the Federalists and the principle of emancipation during the American Civil War. Despite such reformist credentials, on this day in 1865, it unhesitatingly advanced its conviction that black people existed to work for white people, citing the essayist William Rathbone Greg’s claim that ‘Negroes are made on purpose to serve the whites, just as the black ants are made on purpose to serve the red.’1

FOOTNOTE

  1. Cited in Peter Fryer, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain, Pluto Press, London, 2010, p. 173.

© 2020 Alisdare Hickson All rights reserved

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