I was asked about the number of slaves in the New World who were not from Africa. While I had previously done research on this topic, I decided to refresh my memory. What I found was a rewrite of this history that rivals the work of Winston Smith in 1984. The new “history” is that the Irish slaves were actually indentured servants. Here is a portion of this history prior to the 1619 project from the NYT’s cancel culture campaign.
In 1641, Ireland’s population was 1,466,000 and in 1652, 616,000. According to Sir William Petty, 850,000 were wasted by the sword, plague, famine, hardship and banishment during the Confederation War 1641-1652. At the end of the war, vast numbers of Irish men, women and children were forcibly transported to the American colonies by the English government.(7) These people were rounded up like cattle, and, as Prendergast reports on Thurloe’s State Papers(8) (Pub. London, 1742), “In clearing the ground for the adventurers and soldiers (the English capitalists of that day)… To be transported to Barbados and the English plantations in America. It was a measure beneficial to Ireland, which was thus relieved of a population that might trouble the planters; it was a benefit to the people removed, which might thus be made English and Christians … a great benefit to the West India sugar planters, who desired men and boys for their bondsmen, and the women and Irish girls… To solace them.”(9)
J. Williams provides additional evidence of the attitude of the English government towards the Irish in an English law of June 26, 1657: “Those who fail to transplant themselves into Connaught (Ireland’s Western Province) or (County) Clare within six months… Shall be attained of high treason… Are to be sent into America or some other parts beyond the seas…”(10) Those thus banished who return are to “suffer the pains of death as felons by virtue of this act, without benefit of Clergy.”(11)
The following are but a few of the numerous references to those Irish transported against their will between 1651 and 1660.
Emmet asserts that during this time, more that “100,000 young children who were orphans or had been taken from their Catholic parents, were sent abroad into slavery in the West Indies, Virginia and New England, that they might lose their faith and all knowledge of their nationality, for in most instances even their names were changed… Moreover, the contemporary writers assert between 20,000 and 30,000 men and women who were taken prisoner were sold in the American colonies as slaves, with no respect to their former station in life.”(12) Dunn claims in Barbados the Irish Catholics constituted the largest block of servants on the island.(13) Higham estimated that in 1652 Barbados had absorbed no less than 12,000 of these political prisoners.(14) E. Williams reports: “In 1656 Cromwell’s Council of State voted that 1,000 Irish girls and 1,000 Irish young men be sent to Jamaica.”(15) Smith declares: “it is impossible to say how many shiploads of unhappy Irish were dispatched to America by the English government,” and “no mention of such shipments would be very likely to appear in the State Papers… They must have been very considerable in number.”(16)
Estimates vary between 80,000 and 130,000 regarding the amount of Irish sent into slavery in America and the West Indies during the years of 1651 – 1660: Prendergast says 80,000(17); Boudin 100,000(18); Emmet 120,000 to 130,000(19); Lingard 60,000 up until 1656(20); and Condon estimates “the number of Irish transported to the British colonies in America from 1651 – 1660 exceeded the total number of their inhabitants at that period, a fact which ought not to be lost sight of by those who undertake to estimate the strength of the Celtic element in this nation…”(21)
It is impossible to ascertain the exact number of those unfortunate victims of English injustice during this period, but we do know the amount was massive. Even though the figures given above are but estimates, they are estimates from eminent historians.