Admiral 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?
So 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?
Nation News: The Moore Things Change – Admiral Nelson
Official Website: George Washington House Barbados
Wikipedia: George Washington and His Slaves
History News Network: George Washington’s Slave Child?