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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

White Convict Servants in the American Colonies outnumbered African Slaves.

By the eighteenth century indentured servants outnumbered African slaves in the North American colonies. Unlike the situation endured by slaves, however, the state was an impermanent one for indentured servants. Initially an attempt to alleviate severe labor shortages in New World settlements, the system of indenture comprised not only willing English women, children, and men, but also convicts, religious separatists, and political prisoners. Indentured servants labored a set number of years (usually four to seven, though the period for convicts could be considerably longer), during which time they were considered the personal property of their masters. Couples were often prevented from marrying, and women from having children. If a woman did become pregnant and was unable to work, an equivalent amount of time was added to her period of servitude. Upon their release, indentured servants.  British Parliament passed the Transportation Act, under which England began sending its imprisoned convicts to be sold as indentured servants in the American colonies. While the law provoked outrage among many colonists â€" Benjamin Franklin equated it to packing up North American rattlesnakes and sending them all to England â€" the influx of ex-convicts provided cheap and immediate labor for many planters and merchants.


Convict Servants in the American Colonies

The William Brown House, an elegant Georgian brick building built in the 1760s, sits on the banks of the South River in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Now a museum, the house is the last visible structure of London Town, an 18th century tobacco port and one of the Atlantic trading sites where thousands of convicts from England entered the colonies to begin their indentured servitude.
In 1718, the British Parliament passed the Transportation Act, under which England began sending its imprisoned convicts to be sold as indentured servants in the American colonies. While the law provoked outrage among many colonists — Benjamin Franklin equated it to packing up North American rattlesnakes and sending them all to England — the influx of ex-convicts provided cheap and immediate labor for many planters and merchants. After 1718, approximately 60,000 convicts, dubbed "the King's passengers," were sent from England to America. Ninety percent of them stayed in Maryland and Virginia. Although some returned to England once their servitude was over, many remained and began their new lives in the colonies.

Monday, April 13, 2015

THE WITCH-CULT IN WESTERN EUROPE A Study in Anthropology BY MARGARET ALICE MURRAY

I. CONTINUITY OF THE RELIGION[19]

Of the ancient religion of pre-Christian Britain there are few written records, but it is contrary to all experience that a cult should die out and leave no trace immediately on the introduction of a new religion. The so-called conversion of Britain meant the conversion of the rulers only; the mass of the people continued to follow their ancient customs and beliefs with a veneer of Christian rites. The centuries brought a deepening of Christianity which, introduced from above, gradually penetrated downwards through one class after another. During this process the laws against the practice of certain heathen rites became more strict as Christianity grew in power, the Church tried her strength against 'witches' in high places and was victorious, and in the fifteenth century open war was declared against the last remains of heathenism in the famous Bull of Innocent VIII.
This heathenism was practised only in certain places and among certain classes of the community. In other places the ancient ritual was either adopted into, or tolerated by, the Church; and the Maypole dances and other rustic festivities remained as survivals of the rites of the early cult.
Whether the religion which survived as the witch cult was the same as the religion of the Druids, or whether it belonged to a still earlier stratum, is not clear. Though the descriptions of classical authors are rather too vague and scanty to settle such a point, sufficient remains to show that a fertility cult did once exist in these islands, akin to similar cults in the ancient world. Such rites would not be suppressed by the tribes who entered Great Britain after the withdrawal of the Romans; a continuance of the cult may therefore be expected among the people whom the Christian missionaries laboured to convert.
As the early historical records of these islands were made by Christian ecclesiastics, allowance must be made for the[20] religious bias of the writers, which caused them to make Christianity appear as the only religion existing at the time. But though the historical records are silent on the subject the laws and enactments of the different communities, whether lay or ecclesiastical, retain very definite evidence of the continuance of the ancient cults.
In this connexion the dates of the conversion of England are instructive. The following table gives the principal dates:
  • 597-604. Augustine's mission. London still heathen. Conversion of Æthelbert, King of Kent. After Æthelbert's death Christianity suffered a reverse.
  • 604. Conversion of the King of the East Saxons, whose successor lapsed.
  • 627. Conversion of the King of Northumbria.
  • 628. Conversion of the King of East Anglia.
  • 631-651. Aidan's missions.
  • 635. Conversion of the King of Wessex.
  • 653. Conversion of the King of Mercia.
  • 654. Re-conversion of the King of the East Saxons.
  • 681. Conversion of the King of the South Saxons.
An influx of heathenism occurred on two later occasions: in the ninth century there was an invasion by the heathen Danes under Guthrum; and in the eleventh century the heathen king Cnut led his hordes to victory. As in the case of the Saxon kings of the seventh century, Guthrum and Cnut were converted and the tribes followed their leaders' example, professed Christianity, and were baptized.
But it cannot be imagined that these wholesale conversions were more than nominal in most cases, though the king's religion was outwardly the tribe's religion. If, as happened among the East Saxons, the king forsook his old gods, returned to them again, and finally forsook them altogether, the tribe followed his lead, and, in public at least, worshipped Christ, Odin, or any other deity whom the king favoured for the moment; but there can be hardly any doubt that in private the mass of the people adhered to the old religion to which they were accustomed. This tribal conversion is clearly marked when a heathen king married a Christian queen, or vice versa; and it must also be noted that a king never[21] changed his religion without careful consultation with his chief men.[3] An example of the two religions existing side by side is found in the account of Redwald, King of the East Saxons, who 'in the same temple had an altar to sacrifice to Christ, and another small one to offer victims to devils'.[4]
The continuity of the ancient religion is proved by the references to it in the classical authors, the ecclesiastical laws, and other legal and historical records.  >>more from project gutenberg<<

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Obama to Call for End to ‘Conversion’ Therapies for Gay and Transgender Youth

WASHINGTON — A 17-year-old transgender youth, Leelah Alcorn, stunned her friends and a vast Internet audience in December when she threw herself in front of a tractor-trailer after writing in an online suicide note that religious therapists had tried to convert her back to being a boy.

In response, President Obama is calling for an end to such therapies aimed at “repairing” gay, lesbian and transgender youth. His decision on the issue is the latest example of his continuing embrace of gay rights.
In a statement that was posted on Wednesday evening alongside aWhiteHouse.gov petition begun in honor of Ms. Alcorn, Mr. Obama condemned the practice, sometimes called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, which is supported by some socially conservative organizations and religious doctors.
The petition has received more than 120,000 signatures in three months.
“We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth,” the statement, written by Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, says. “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”