During white. Due to many complaints they added

During the time of the slave trade Scots were very much invloved as it provided many job opportunities. There were jobs available back home in Scotland and other jobs that involved traveling such as jobs on the plantations, such as slave drivers and book keepers. One of the most famous Scots who was going to take up employment as a book keeper was Robert Burns.

It has been a large debate in history weather Burns was an abolitionist or was not and there is evidence to support both sides of the argument. Many people were invloved within the slave trade, however many Scots are and were in denial of Scotlands part to play within the slave trade so much so that they try to hide it. There was a poster published for Scottish tourism and it was noticed that there was not one person in the poster that wasn’t white. Due to many complaints they added an asian man into the poster, which didn’t help matters (Museum of Hoaxes,2008). This can been seen as a source of evidence that Scots are trying to hide any link that Scotland may have to the Slave Trade. This has also been noticed by Stephen Mullen who stated in Ae Fond Kiss, and Then We Sever!, “Given the link with burns and slavery, this year woud have been a perfect opportunity to publicly reconcile ourselves with our real history. Instead, the Scottish Governement has served itself from the complecity of the nation’s past and shown how it is keen to adapt to a romantic Disney- like charade based upon the denial of historical evidence”(Mullen,S). This shows how important it is to the govermnet to hide Scotlands slave past.

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However in the past Scots were thankful for the slave trade as it provided them with many opportunities.There were many jobs that became avaliable in Scotland due to the slave trade. The slave trade and the industrial revolution coincide in many ways, one of them being that during this time period many factories were set up which was a massive part of the industrial revolution and some of these factories were processing slave goods that had been purchased from the Americas. The 1707 act of union (Parliament,2017) between Scotland and England helped the Scots gain access to the American markets. These factories were where slave trade goods ended up such as sugar, tobacco and cotton, which were huge markets. Industrialisation was happening nearing the end of the 18th century, which meant that within time many estates in Glasgow were lost because of all the factories being built, which shows the growth of Glasgow including the population.

People were willing to work in the terrible conditions of the factory for a very low wage as they weren’t getting work before. Another job back home that young Scots could get involved in was ship building. Ship building helped unemployment hugely as it opened up so many employment opportunities as the slave trade required so many.(BBC.

co.uk,2017)A slave trader was someone who went on the journey through the triangular trade buying enslaved Africans and then selling them on to plantation owners. Another job being the ships captain and sailors, the jobs of the sailors wasn’t just to control the ship, but to control the slaves. The ship’s also had surgeons on board to make sure as many of the enslaves survived the journey. Their job would be to mend the enslaved after they had been tortured.Another job involved within the slave trade was a plantation owner, who would purchase slaves, house them and then trade them again for their own use, such as getting them to work on the plantation.

As the plantation owners would sell on their goods from the plantations such as sugar, cotton and tobacco, this also created more jobs such as a tobacco lord, who were people who bought and sold tobacco. The tobacco lords built huge magnificent houses in Glasgow which contributed to it’s development, as well as having country houses built for them (Glasgowhistory.co.uk,2017).

  There were also other jobs available on a plantation such as doctors, their job was to treat the slaves after they had been beaten. There was also the job of a book keeper on the plantation, Robert Burns had signed up to become a book keeper before his poems were successful as he wasn’t earning enough money, but because of their success he didn’t have to go through with this plan. It has been a big debate over the years weather Robert Burn was in fact an abolitionist.

  A source of evidence to support this view that Burns was an abolitionist is one of his poems “The Slaves Lament” which was written in 1792 making this a primary source as it was written during the period of the Slave Trade. This source may include bias as Burns never actually went through this experience. The target audience for this poem could potentially be abolitionists as they could use it in their campaign to help pursade people against abolition. The purpose of this poem could be to help pursuade non-abolitionists of the wrongs of the trade. Burns wrote “Torn from that lovely shore, and must never see it more” (Burns,1792). This shows that Burns was aware that the slaves were unhappy as they have been taken from their homes that they will never see their families and friends again. This can also show that Burns had an emotional connection to the slave trade as he viewed slaves as people with emotions, which many people during  this time did not, they viewed slaves as nothing but property.

Burns also participated in the abolition cause and used his poetry to do so. His work was quoted by Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln who thought his work was highly influential and used this to back their campaigns to abolish slavery.(News.B, 2017). There is also evidence that Burns made an impact as Graham Fagan who was shocked to learn about Scotlands part in the slave trade decided to turn the poets “The Slaves Lament” into a song that was performed for the first time live at the Edinburgh international fesitval (National galleries Scotland, 2015).

In contrast, people have argued that Burns was not an abolitionist, evidence to support this is an article written by Lynn Kelly, titled Forget a mans a man for a that – Burns planned to make a fortune from slave trade. This source was written in 2008 which means this is a secondary source as it was written after the death of Burns, which makes it bias as it is impossible for her to know Burns’ true intentions. The potential audience for this source would be people that oppose burns as an abolitionist as this source is based on the reasons why he should not be considered an abolitionist. The purpose of this source is to inform readers on all the information against Burns as an abolitionist.

This source states “in another of his poems, The Ordination, Burns pokes fun at the unenlightened ignorance of certain Calvinists in Ayrshire. And yet some of those who Burns names are among the most vocal abolitionists” (Kelly,2008). This shows that Burns wasn’t purposefully trying to be an advocate for the abolition as he wasn’t showing any kind of support to people who were working hard to abolish the trade.

It has also been mentioned that in another of his poems “On a Scotch Bard to the West Indies”, Burns wrote about how his life would be better and that he would be surrounded by people who love and care for him, not once mentioning the monstrosity surrounding him, showing that he doesn’t have that emotional connection that some people thought he had shown (Kelly,2008). Burns also did very little for the abolition compared to other abolitionists such as Oulaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson. Equiano was a former slave who spoke to the public about the horrors of the slave trade. Equinano published his autobiography in 1789, which helped introduce the Slave Trade act of 1807. Thomas Clarkson was a leading campaigner in the abolition, he interviewed people that had first hand accounts of the slave trade and used this to fuel his campaign.

He was also responsible for sparking William Wilberforce’s interest in the abolition, who then later also became a leading abolitionist. It is due to these leading abolitionists that Burns doesn’t look like he played a big part in the slave trade as he only published on poem about the matter.Overall the slave trade provided many job opportunities for the Scots as they were able to get jobs at home, jobs away from home, such as those within working the route of the triangular trade or working on a plantation. Due to Burns’ success with his Kilmarnock addition, he didn’t have to become a book keeper but it can be argued that he became an abolitionist due to influence from friends, and this is why he did things that suported the slave trade such as the publication of “The Slaves Lament”. However he only ever did publish one poem about the slave trade and in other poems made fun of abolitionist. Burns didn’t have as big of an impact as other abolitionists and definitely didn’t work as hard to get the slave trade abolished. To conclude Robert Burns did have an impact and a small effect on the abolition of the slave trade, but it would be wrong to call him a leading abolitionist compared to the contribution of other abolitionists.


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