Should Barbados Burn George Washington’s House?

george-washington-barbados.jpgAdmiral Nelson vs. George Washington – Different Standards Applied

In 1751 at the age of 19 years, George Washington, the future eighth leader of the revolutionary American colonies of Britain, spent two months in Bush Hill House in Barbados with his brother Lawrence. The house was restored in 2006 with the efforts of many under the Barbados National Trust and, as expected, is a big tourist draw that has gained international attention.

Using the same logic of those who oppose the statue of Admiral Nelson in Bridgetown, (and tongue in cheek) I state here and now that I believe the government of Barbados should burn the George Washington house to the ground in an internationally broadcast television spectacle.

Folks want to remove the Bridgetown statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson, because he strongly criticised anti-slavery crusader William Wilberforce and, although he never owned a slave, Nelson expressed support for the institution of slavery as a foundation of the British Empire.

In contrast to Nelson’s verbal support for slavery, George Washington actually owned slaves – hundreds of them. At age 11, George Washington owned ten slaves, and thus was a slave owner when he stayed in Barbados in 1751. When he died, Washington had 316 slaves at his Mount Vernon estate with the ownership of these wretched human beings split between Washington and his wife. Oh yes… Washington also rented 40 slaves from a neighbour.

Nothing Like A Little Walk At Night To Warm The Blood!

And just like the other Virginia slave owners and other big men of the day including Thomas Jefferson, good old Georgy Boy visited the slave quarters once in a while to claim all the benefits of owning other human beings. Female slaves couldn’t say “no” to Massa, and Washington’s late night walks increased his slave holdings in the most economical way. Do a little research if you have any doubts – save your outrage for Georgy-Boy himself, Okay?

bridgetown_barbados_nelson_statueSo what do you say folks? Should the Nelson statute be tossed in the ocean (because arguments about “moving” the statue aren’t really about moving the statue, they are about dishonouring Nelson publicly.)

And if we dishonour Nelson without the same treatment for Washington, aren’t we the biggest hypocrites?

Or should we leave history as history, and instead of destroying or concealing it – explain these two great men in the context of their times, warts and all?

What say you?

Further Reading

Nation News: The Moore Things Change – Admiral Nelson

CNN: Barbados saved home where Washington Slept

Official Website: George Washington House Barbados

Wikipedia: George Washington and His Slaves

History News Network: George Washington’s Slave Child?

41 Comments

Filed under Africa, Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, Ethics, History, Human Rights, Race, Slavery

41 responses to “Should Barbados Burn George Washington’s House?

  1. 199

    By all means burn it down, if we don’t want to have any pre-independence relics, at all, save slavery!!

  2. ru4real

    Dont talk BS
    Its a tourist attraction
    we want tourists don’t we?

  3. whome?

    We are getting rid of one major tourist attraction (graeme hall) because it is owned by a whitish person. What’s the problem with burning down another whitish tourism attraction?

  4. HUH???

    what an ignorant article and some ignorant comments

  5. me

    The charge of hypocrisy would require that the two situations compared be equivalent.

    Are they?

    Some would argue not. They might argue that removing one particular symbol of colonialism from a particular place of prominence does not imply that all elements of our history of colonialism be removed, regardless of personal and national cost.

    A very odd article, really.

  6. nevermind Kurt

    I get your point BFP and it is a good one well made. Quirky but I know you do that deliberately. (Bye the way I thought your “liquid death” Zimbabwe title was superb! You are tabloid all the way but that is why we love you and keep coming back.)

  7. nevermind Kurt

    me, the situations are not equal. washington owned slaves and had the women he owned. he ran his plantation with slaves. nelson had none. “these truths are self evident, all men are created equal except for the negro slaves I own” signed Washingotn.

  8. Hants

    Nelson statue is important as a perch and a depository for pigeon excrement.

    Move it down by the Harbour road so cruise ship passengers can drive or walk by this important monument to the British Empire.

    Just keep the pigeons informed.

  9. just rewards

    “We are getting rid of one major tourist attraction (graeme hall) because it is owned by a whitish person. ”

    Yes, and the bureaucrats and politicians who caused it to fail can once again have control of it again and return it to the dump it once was.

  10. 199

    Hants, you’ve either a low opinion of our history or you think we built Bim by ourselves!! Which is it!!

  11. Hants

    @199

    “December You built Bim with a lot of people including slaves, their children and grand children.

    Nelson can stay where he is if the majority of Bajans (direct descendants of slaves) want him there.”

  12. Adrian Loveridge

    ”Privately, however. Washington could – and did – lead by example. In his will, he arranged for all of the slaves he owned to be freed after the death of his wife, Martha’. He also left instructions for the continued care and education of some of his former slaves, support and training for all of the children until they became of age, and continuing support for the elderly’.

    Source: Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens

  13. wondering

    We need to just get over it.It is, what it is ..good ,bad and indifferent.It is all part of our history. Don’t we have better things to do in these times ?

  14. Pat

    These are tough time economically, and Americans love their history.
    Sell George Washington’s house on ebay!!
    There are plenty of rich Americans who can spar with each other over its purchase, and Barbados needs the money!

  15. nicodemus

    What’s wrong with you some of you ? So what if he owned slaves 250 years ago ! We know it is wrong but back then it was perfectly legal. Get over it and get on with improving your own status in life! Harping on all the negatives of history will get you nowhere.

    Go ahead, burn it down ! I’m sure America as well as the countries of western Africa (the source of the slaves) will declare a day of mourning ! NOT !

  16. Sundowner

    HUH! & Wondering.
    I agree with you, this is some ignorant. You can tell we getting near Christmas with the rubbish being written about.
    There are far more important things going on in Barbados and the world than this .

  17. J. Payne

    LOL Burn it?

    Zimbabwe had a similar plan for ‘race relations’ in their country. Now look at the status of the economic development there now that all the G-8 countries pulled their money out. Barbados could burn it but who benefits?

    As for televising it. Americans are touchy about anything that “goes against them.” Being that people in the states can be soo petty sometimes do you think that action would bring more or less U.S. tourists?

    Lastly what economic industry do you propose Barbados switch to instead?

    *******************

    BFP says,

    Hey there J. Payne!

    Perhaps you should pay more attention to the “tongue in cheek” comment. At BFP we inspire debate. Tabloid? Of course! But that’s us… who’s got a Banks handy?

  18. 199

    Hi BFP, I’ve just watched a prog. about Venezuela and I’m fuming, not so much because it is n’t the paradise which Chavez would love for us to believe that it is, as for being given the wrong impression of the country, for such a long time, by the very, inaptly named blog ‘It’s All Good – Bajan in Venezuela’, in your sidebar! I now, know that Venezuela is nothing but paradise and that title is so misleading, unless it applies to the person whose blog it is, in which case he/she should say, ‘at least for me’, or ‘for me personally’, etc!!

    I think you should insist they change it’s title or remove it, altogether!!

  19. 199

    Nelson, naval warrior extraordinaire!! What more can you say!! His achievements are insurpassable!!

  20. Juris

    Why is the programme right and the blogger wrong? Do you believe everything you see on TV?

  21. 199

    Juris, do you disbelieve everything that YOU see on tv?!!

    I did n’t start watching tv, yesterday!!

  22. 199

    How many more people has this idiot been deceiving about Venezuela!! Chavez has n’t produced the miracle he was hoping for!!

  23. The Scout

    What a silly article and all those who are in an agreement are just as silly. The idea of replacing Nelson is that it is not suited for HEROES SQUARE. Folllowing that argument you’re making, should we declare the Queen personna non grata? BFP your standard has fallen badly.

  24. J. Payne

    To BFP:
    Hey, I’ll see you one Banks and I’ll raise you one.

  25. PiedPiper

    One can not put history in the same context of todays sensibilities. History is what it is …history, some bad and some good. To deny one’s own personal history or the history of a people and a nation is the same as trying to rewrite history. Can’t be done. History is what shapes a nation and even bad history plays a part in what shapes that nation. Four hundred years ago the mindset of nations and people were vastly different from what they are today and harping on the bad aspects of how we got to where we are today is pointless.

  26. J. Payne

    Lets see who gets tippsy first.

  27. 199

    BFP, I don’t expect you to do anything about my request re: the ‘Venezuela issue’ (you’ve seldom taken that much notice of my suggestions in the past) but, do you think you should be encouraging drinking, as well!!

  28. This Scotsman would be more than willing to participate in helping to throw the Nelson statue into the Caribbean Sea, now that would be fun.

  29. two things i need to comments about ,one history has taught me to known where i come from to known where i am going that why we bajans need to keep our history and leave georgie alone.two stop telling lies and spreading progander about chavez since chavez took over venezuela the poor and the poorest can get health care food and good housing to live where their did not have any 16years ago when only the rich people got,didyou wonder why the poor love him and amercia gov hate him i known i have beento venezuela 20yrs ago,since then i say go chavez only for the poor people of venezuela

  30. Analyzer

    http://www.britsattheirbest.com/heroes_adventurers/h_nelson.htm

    With all the talk of the Nelson statue, I decided to some research on the internet. It seems that Nelson helped win the war against the French which freed up the sea lanes which resulted in the British putting an end to the slave trade. Even if we take down the statue, it is not going to change history. If we do take it down, it seems it might be worth a pretty penny, so don’t throw it in the sea, see how much we can make off of it and put that money towards building a new hospital or helping the poor.

  31. ru4real

    This Scotsman would be more than willing to participate in helping to throw the Nelson statue into the Caribbean Sea, now that would be fun.
    ——————————–
    Also stupid and useless

  32. marvinbareback

    We could definitely make some money off of selling the statue. It is a statue that has historical significance for sure and either a museum in the UK or some benefactor in Antigua would love to have that statue. Seriously though, today’s black people in Barbados don’t appreciate how lucky they are. And that luck extends back to Nelson’s time. His victories contributed to stable rule in this part of the world for generations . All the revisionist thinkers out there that want to move Nelson” statue don’t think far enough to understand that without British rule here in the english speaking Caribbean, they could have remained in their African tribe or ended up like Haiti. I think there is a lot to be thankful for whatever has transpired in the past history that has led to the building of this nation. Be proud of all, not so conflicted on the race thing. Nelson was a war hero, that’s how he would want to be remembered, not whether he owned slaves or defended their owners.

  33. Edward

    To marvinbareback

    You seem to be either a Black clown with an inferiority complex or a non black! Your opinion suggests that you are ignorant and, need to seek further education! The state of Africa is a manifestation of polices designed to keep the continent poor! Look at Zimbabwe! The world works in such a way that if you decide to not be a slave to big corporations and, the western private sector then, you country is either collapsed or, you are killed!

    Before Europeans arrived in Africa the people were eating well and, doing alright! Thus, the change that is manifested now is due to a deliberate attempt to sabotage and, steal from the continent!

  34. marvinbareback

    Edward, you are easily placed in that group of people thinking that Africa was the garden of Eden before the slave trade. You are entirely uneducated about the reality of tribalism in Africa because you probably haven’t been there. I have on a number of occasions. Kenya just about tore itself apart over this tribal hatred. Also, Africa is all about “winner takes all”. The dominating tribe gets all glory and the lesser ones suffer until the injustices add up to armed revolt. Then a new cycle of slaughter and reprisals ensue to ensure that yet another generation is inculcated with that ingrained thinking. At least here in Bim, the tribal thing is gone for the most part. Don’t start talking about how Bajans treat their bruddas from St. Lucia, St. Vincent or Guyana though. A little bit tribal don’t you think. We get to blame them for a lot of things like better work ethic, unemployment, etc. So Edward, don’t you think it’s time to get over your dislike of the history that brought your sorry ancestors here and be glad they ended up somewhere where they worked to get the freedoms and prosperity you enjoy. Slavery was brutal but the spirit of those who are indominatable prevailed and somehow made good in spite of it all. If you think you don’t have it so good, maybe you should go back to the motherland and live in fear and poverty (and no chance to write in your opinion on the internet). Throw off the shackles Edward, mental slavery is the worst form.

  35. Anonymous

    marvinbareback STOP IT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT I AM ASHAMED TO BE BLACK! WHAT PITTHLE ARE YOU WRITING STUPSE!

  36. .134

    Omg burn it down?! what ignorant comments

    slavery is done and gone! how can you move on if you are still stuck in the past!?! get on with your lives! barbados is both black and white…if you dont like it, then leave the island!!!

    marvinbareback i like your comments as for edwards and anonymous you are certainly 2 closed minded people! educate yourself before you open your mouths!!

    Edward you said that people in Africa were doing alright before the europeans came? there was still slavery, albeit not on the level the europeans carried it too but it still occured AND how about the Africans that sold their fellow Africans to the Europeans?!?!?

  37. .241

    Slavery was practiced in Africa even before the first Europeans arrived and the Atlantic slave trade was performed with a high degree of involvement of several African societies. The black slave market was supplied by well-established slave trade networks controlled by local African societies and individuals.

    There is adequate evidence citing case after case of African control of segments of the trade. Several African nations such as the Ashanti of Ghana and the Yoruba of Nigeria had economies depended solely on the trade.

    African peoples such as the Imbangala of Angola and the Nyamwezi of Tanzania would serve as middlemen or roving bands warring with other African nations to capture Africans for Europeans.

    Indeed, slavery persists in several areas of West Africa until the present day.

    So why is there no outcry about that?

  38. .241

    Maybe this timeline but be an eye opener …
    (taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

    * 1588 Lithuania and Japan abolish slavery
    * 1600 Last villein dies in England
    * 1723 Russia abolishes slavery[1]
    * 1761, February 12, Portugal abolishes slavery[2] in mainland Portugal and in Portuguese possessions in India through a decree by the Marquis of Pombal.
    * 1772 Slavery declared illegal in England, including overseas slaves living in England. Lord Chief Justice Mansfield rules that English law does not support slavery.[3]
    * 1777 Slavery abolished in Madeira, Portugal[3]
    * 1777 Slavery abolished in Vermont, USA[3]
    * 1778 Slavery illegal in Scotland[4][5]
    * 1783 Russia abolishes slavery in Crimean Khanate[6]
    * 1783 Massachusetts rules slavery illegal based on 1780 constitution[3]
    * 1783 Bukovina: Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor issued an order abolishing slavery on 19 June 1783 in Czernowitz.[7]
    * 1787 Sierra Leone founded by British as state for emancipated slaves
    * 1787 Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade founded in Britain[3]
    * 1788 Sir William Dolben’s Act regulating the conditions on British slave ships enacted
    * 1791 Haiti gains independence and emancipation
    * 1792 Denmark-Norway declared transatlantic slave trade illegal after 1802 (though slavery continues to 1848).
    * 1793 Upper Canada, by Act Against Slavery
    * 1794 French First Republic abolishes slavery[3] (re-established by Napoleon in 1802)
    * 1799 New York State introduces gradual emancipation
    * 1802 Slavery re-introduced in France[2]
    * 1803 Denmark-Norway abolishes transatlantic slave trade on 1 Jaunary 1803
    * 1803 Lower Canada abolishes slavery
    * 1804 Haiti abolishes slavery[3]
    * 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act: slave trading abolished in British Empire. Captains fined £100 per slave transported.
    * 1807 British begin patrols of African coast to arrest slaving vessels. West Africa Squadron (Royal Navy) established to suppress slave trading; by 1865, nearly 150,000 people freed by anti-slavery operations[8]
    * 1807 Abolition in Prussia, Germany The Stein-Hardenberg Reforms.
    * 1808 United States — importation of slaves into the US prohibited after Jan. 1.[9]
    * 1811 Slave trading made a felony in the British Empire punishable by transportation for British subjects and Foreigners.
    * 1811 Spain abolishes slavery at home and in all colonies except Cuba,[2] Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo
    * 1814 Dutch outlaw slave trade
    * 1815 British pay Portuguese £750,000 (several hundred million dollars in current values) to cease their trade[10]
    * 1815 Congress of Vienna. 8 Victorious powers declared their opposition to slavery
    * 1817 Spain paid £400,000 by British to cease trade to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo[10]
    * 1818 Treaty between Britain and Spain to abolish slave trade [11]
    * 1818 Treaty between Britain and Portugal to abolish slave trade [11]
    * 1818 France and Holland abolish slave trading
    * 1819 Treaty between Britain and Netherlands to abolish slave trade [11]
    * 1821 Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela abolish slavery
    * 1821 Liberia founded by USA as state for emancipated slaves.
    * 1822 Greece abolishes slavery.
    * 1823 Chile abolishes slavery[3]
    * 1827 Treaty between Britain and Sweden to abolish slave trade [11]
    * 1829 Mexico abolishes slavery[3]
    * 1831 Bolivia abolishes slavery[3]
    * 1834 The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 comes into force, abolishing slavery throughout most of the British Empire. The exceptions being territories controlled by the Honourable East India Company and the islands of Ceylon and St Helena.[12]
    * 1834 Jamaica abolishes slavery[3]
    * 1835 Treaty between Britain and France to abolish slave trade [11]
    * 1835 Treaty between Britain and France and Denmark to abolish slave trade [11]
    * 1836 Portugal abolishes transatlantic slave trade
    * 1839 British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society founded, now called Anti-Slavery International
    * 1839 Indian indenture system made illegal
    * 1840 Treaty between Britain and Venezuela to abolish slave trade [11]
    * 1841 Quintuple Treaty is signed; England, France, Russia, Prussia, and Austria agree to suppress slave trade[3]
    * 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty between Britain and USA
    * 1842 Uruguay abolishes slavery[3]
    * 1843 Honourable East India Company becomes increasingly controlled by Britain and abolishes slavery in India by the Indian Slavery Act V. of 1843.
    * 1843 Treaty between Britain and Uruguay to suppress slave trade [11]
    * 1843 Treaty between Britain and Mexico to suppress slave trade [11]
    * 1843 Treaty between Britain and Chile to suppress slave trade [11]
    * 1843 Argentina abolishes slavery[2]
    * 1843 Treaty between Britain and Bolivia to abolish slave trade [11]
    * 1845 36 British Navy ships are assigned to the Anti-Slavery Squadron, making it one of the largest fleets in the world.
    * 1846 Tunisia abolishes slavery
    * 1847 Sweden abolishes slavery[13]
    * 1848 Denmark abolishes slavery[13]
    * 1848 Slavery abolished in all French and Danish colonies[3]
    * 1848 France founds Gabon for settlement of emancipated slaves.
    * 1848 Treaty between Britain and Muscat to suppress slave trade [11]
    * 1849 Treaty between Britain and Persian Gulf states to suppress slave trade [11]
    * 1850 United States: Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
    * 1851 Brazil ends slave trade[3]
    * 1854 Peru abolishes slavery[3]
    * 1854 Venezuela abolishes slavery[3]
    * 1855 Moldavia abolishes slavery.[14]
    * 1856 Wallachia abolishes slavery.[14]
    * 1860 Indenture system abolished in British occupied India.
    * 1861 Russia frees its serfs in the Emancipation reform of 1861.[15][2]
    * 1862 Treaty between United States and Britain for the suppression of the slave trade (African Slave Trade Treaty Act)[11].
    * 1862 Cuba abolishes slave trade[3]
    * 1863 Slavery abolished in Dutch colonies[3]
    * 1863 United States: Emancipation Proclamation declares those slaves in Confederate-controlled areas to be freed. Does not include slaves in “border states” and Washington, D.C..
    * 1865 United States abolishes slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[3]
    * 1869 Portugal abolishes slavery in the African colonies
    * 1871 Brazil declares free the sons and daughters born to slave mothers after 28 September 1871.
    * 1873 Puerto Rico abolishes slavery
    * 1873 Treaty between Britain and Zanzibar and Madagascar to suppress slave trade [11]
    * 1874 Britain abolishes slavery in Ghana (the Gold Coast) (after Third Anglo-Asante War and British annexation of the Gold Coast in 1874).
    * 1881 – 1899 – Mahdist War fought partly to suppress slavery in the Sudan.
    * 1886 Cuba abolishes slavery[3]
    * 1888 Brazil abolishes slavery[3]
    * 1890 Brussels Act – Treaty granting anti-slavery powers the right to stop and search ships for slaves
    * 1894 Korea abolishes slavery[16]
    * 1896 France abolishes slavery in Madagascar
    * 1897 Zanzibar abolishes slavery[17]
    * 1905 Siam (Thailand) abolishes slavery[18]
    * 1923 Afghanistan abolishes slavery[19]
    * 1924 Iraq abolishes slavery
    * 1924 League of Nations Temporary Slavery Commission
    * 1926 Slavery Convention. Bound all signatories to end slavery Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery (25 September 1926)
    * 1926 Nepal abolishes slavery[20][21]
    * 1928 Iran abolishes slavery[22]
    * 1928 Domestic slavery practised by local African elites abolished in Sierra Leone[23] (paradoxically established as a place for freed slaves). A study found practices of domestic slavery still widespread in rural areas in the 1970s.
    * 1935 Italian General Emilio De Bono proclaims slavery to be abolished in the Ethiopian Empire[24]
    * 1936 Britain abolishes slavery in Northern Nigeria[25]
    * 1942 Ethiopian Empire abolishes slavery
    * 1948 UN Article 4 of the Declaration of Human Rights bans slavery globally[26]
    * 1952 Qatar abolishes slavery
    * 1962 Saudi Arabia abolishes slavery
    * 1962 Yemen abolishes slavery
    * 1963 United Arab Emirates abolishes slavery
    * 1969 Peru abolishes the encomiendas regime through a land reform[1] ending slavery in the country.
    * 1970 Oman abolishes slavery
    * 1981 Mauritania abolishes slavery[27] (Mauritania has repeatedly abolished slavery. It is the last country to still have chattel slavery.)[28]
    * Slavery continues today with illegal human trafficking[29]

    Note how much Britain was involved in trying to stop the slave trade once it ‘came to its enses’ about the how wrong it was.

  39. vikki

    who should really care what is burned or melted down? we should! i do, but that doesn’t make me wrong. anyways, i see it as a totally major tourist attraction. i told my niece who lives in america about our statues and places that are absolutly fabulous, and she says she can’t wait to see all the places – ESPECIALLY Washington’s house because she thinks that its cool that part of america is mixed with barbados. besides, what does it matter, the guy only came here because of his stepbrother who was ill because he was hoping that he would get better with the fresh warm air.

  40. Ordinary Person

    Woe for all the history that is dying at our museum. Papers rotting with mould will not be scanned. Sit they in cupboards tied with ancient string never to be untied.

    Gone, gone, gone the history we have forgotten and will never know again.

    Insidious slow destruction. Deliberate and quietly celebrated by those who would return us to the slavery of ignorance.

  41. Mobert

    George Washington was a Freemason, I see too that Nelon’s chopped off hand sleeve is placed in the classic Freemason pose.

    Co-incidence?

    from wikipedia –Washington and many others sided with the French slave owners in suppressing a slave rebellion in Saint Domingue, now Haiti. Washington aided the French slave owners by authorizing weapons and money be given to suppress a slave rebellion.[7] Washington also signed The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793,[8] authorizing slave hunters to enter free states and territories to capture run away slaves. In addition, Washington signed the Naturalization Act of 1790 that racially allowed only white persons to become citizens of the United States. —

    So, could be said that both were after fortune, fame and sucks to anything else.

    But, never hide history, br0adcast it, so it will not be repeated.