Discussion Slavery/blockade runner question


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Drew

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Archie, thank you for asking the question. I'm aware of this and really need to get off my duff and start a thread about it.

I'm not aware of Confederates running slaves through the blockade, rather, Union Army officers and Northern shipping interests (and all that entails) kidnapping supposedly "free blacks" and running them to Cuban slave markets for sale.

It's in the historical record and like I said, it's high time this is addressed. I'll get to work on it.
 

archieclement

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Sounds interesting, wasn't aware of that aspect. Though guess not surprising considering the cotton abuses.

I was wondering if some of the smaller runners that would run to the smaller shallow water ports with limited cargo space, might not have tried running slaves.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Have to say, just ran into an article while poking around in era news. Two Union officers got in huge trouble, arrested for dealing in cotton. Where there's a quick buck.... . Unclear how they did it. Went to the pokey. Never been a fan of some policies, like the one where children were affected by shortages.

Yep, have ads from March, 1865 offering enslaved for sale. Edited.
 
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Carronade

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Outbound cargo was intended to be sold in order to purchase whatever they wanted to bring in to the Confederacy on the return trip. Most of what they wanted to import came from Britain or other European countries, whether it was military supplies or luxury/consumer goods. It would make sense to take something you could sell in Nassau or Bermuda or wherever.
 

USS ALASKA

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The thought occurred to me today as Cuba and Brazil hadn't abolished slavery during the ACW, are there known instances of blockade runners taking slaves on outbound trips to say Cuba?
While this might make economic sense, on an international level - in which the Confederacy was trying desperately to get recognition - this could backfire horribly. The Royal Navy still had anti-slaver patrols out and about. A few captures of ships / crews / cargoes is going to create more damage than it could possibly be worth.
77

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USS ALASKA
 

8thFlorida

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I’ve read John Tory Bourne’s account of ships’cargo through Bermuda 1861-1865 and not one mention of the slave trade. Blockade Runners were running guns, blankets, shoes, food and supplies in exchange for cotton and other goods. Some profiteering on the side as well of course.
 

archieclement

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Outbound cargo was intended to be sold in order to purchase whatever they wanted to bring in to the Confederacy on the return trip. Most of what they wanted to import came from Britain or other European countries, whether it was military supplies or luxury/consumer goods. It would make sense to take something you could sell in Nassau or Bermuda or wherever.
I have read that Havana was a popular port for gulf coast blockade runners, obviously the sale of slaves wouldn't be unusual there.

Also read smaller ships, many times small sailing brigs/schooners were running to small shallow water ports on the gulf coast that didn't draw blockade attention. But their cargo capacity was very limited.
 
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I know I read in Waddle's memoirs (of CSS Shenandoah fame) that slaves were onboard that naval vessel but that they were brought essentially the same way that an army officer would bring a man servant from home. Waddle related an anecdote (could find it when I'm off work) of said slave being brought into some port where there were representatives of the federal government (diplomats if I remember correctly) who tried to convince him to run off with them because he was technically covered by the Emancipation Proclamation. I also know that Matthew Maury brought a young male slave with him through the blockade to I believe either to Bermuda or the Bahamas. Again, as an attendant not a good to be sold. They were definitely part of the CS maritime experience.
 

Carronade

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With so many men in the army, and with the requirements of war added to the normal economy, there would seem to be a greater demand for manpower on the farm or wherever. I expect the Confederate government would be reluctant to allow potential laborers out of the country.
 

Don Dixon

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I’ve read John Tory Bourne’s account of ships’cargo through Bermuda 1861-1865 and not one mention of the slave trade. Blockade Runners were running guns, blankets, shoes, food and supplies in exchange for cotton and other goods. Some profiteering on the side as well of course.
Slaves in the British Empire were emancipated by decree in 1833 and converted to time-limited apprentices. The former slaves in the West Indies were freed from their apprenticeships in 1838. So, there would have been no market for Confederate slaves in Bermuda or the Bahamas.

Cuba was another matter. But, because of the current Communist government there, and the fact that the records are in Spanish and Americans generally don't have languages, no one has done the research in the colonial Spanish customs records comparable to what Frank E. Vandiver did for Bermuda in Confederate Blockade Running Through Bermuda, 1861-1865.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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The thought occurred to me today as Cuba and Brazil hadn't abolished slavery during the ACW, are there known instances of blockade runners taking slaves on outbound trips to say Cuba?

In the last year of the war as slaves prices plummeted, wouldn't it at some point have rivaled cotton in profitability?
While in a partly-hidden industry like blockade running it's tough to make blanket statements that something *never* happened, I at least have never come across this in any of my reading. I would be very skeptical of any claims of slave export of that nature.
 

archieclement

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Slaves in the British Empire were emancipated by decree in 1833 and converted to time-limited apprentices. The former slaves in the West Indies were freed from their apprenticeships in 1838. So, there would have been no market for Confederate slaves in Bermuda or the Bahamas.

Cuba was another matter. But, because of the current Communist government there, and the fact that the records are in Spanish and Americans generally don't have languages, no one has done the research in the colonial Spanish customs records comparable to what Frank E. Vandiver did for Bermuda in Confederate Blockade Running Through Bermuda, 1861-1865.

Regards,
Don Dixon
Why specifically asked about Havana, was a little puzzled by the references to Bermuda, Bahamas, or Nassau where it was illegal, so obviously would be no market........seemed apples to oranges
 
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Three thoughts. 1). The ready availability of cheap cotton and the huge price differential between cotton within the blockade and in the UK was most likely so attractive that few other options were of interest. 2) Runners were typically small fast boats probably less suited to human cargo than cotton. 3) The records most often contain those who were caught so if it happened it probably was not recorded.
 

Don Dixon

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Runners were typically small fast boats probably less suited to human cargo than cotton.
The blockade runner captains were not models for the charming rogue Rhett Butler of Gone with the Wind. Many of the captains were so disreputable that beginning in mid-1864 the Federal consuls in St. Georges, Bermuda, and Havana began to express concern in their despatches that with the fall of the Confederacy the captains would take their ships, arm them, and turn to piracy or the slave trade. So, knowledgeable Federal consuls only believed that the ships could be converted to "black birding," they believed that they would be. (Examples at Allen to Seward, mid-1864 through May 1865, Despatches from U.S. Consuls at Bermuda, British West Indies; and Savage to Seward, mid-1864 through May 1865, Despatches from U.S. Consuls at Havana, Cuba)

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

ErnieMac

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Posted as Moderator. The topic of the thread is the use of blockade runners to convey slaves for sale in areas where slavery was still legal. It has nothing to do with kidnapping free blacks. Failure to keep on topic will result in a warning with an appropriate penalty.
 

8thFlorida

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John Newland Maffitt the captain of the CSS Florida was originally the captain of the brig Dolphin in the US Navy before the war. His responsibility was to stop slave ships and pirates. I imagine many of those slave ships were going elsewhere than the US. But again this was before the Blockade.
 

8thFlorida

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John Newland Maffitt was the Captain of the Blockade Runner the Owl as well. He never ran slaves he only helped to fight the slave trade before joining the Confederate Navy.
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