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Of White Slaves
My Fact-Finding and Research Trip to Great Britain, Sept. 9-24, 1997
by Michael A. Hoffman II
Links: Hoffman in Britain--Photos
Two years ago a man impressed by my pioneering research on the enslavement of whites in early America and industrial Britain donated a plane ticket to England so that I could do more research there. I had not been in England in ten years and there was a great deal more digging I have long wanted to do in the archives there.
Now that I had a plane ticket under my belt, I still had to raise the money for transportation within Britain, as well as for lodging, meals and expenses related to book and manuscript purchases, photocopying fees and so forth.
A year and a half elapsed and I had still not raised the funds. Last March, my benefactor understandably stated that if I could not obtain the finances for my work in Britain, he would have to ask for the return of the tickets, since it appeared I would never be able to afford to do my work once I arrived and he was not in a position to donate further.
At that point I said a prayer, called the airline and made my reservation for a flight leaving Seattle for London on Sept. 9. Between then and September I cut corners as far as I could and saved enough for my "BritRail" pass, affording me unlimited train travel within Wales, Scotland and England.
By Sept. 1st, I was still without funds for food, housing and research materials. In fact I didn't even have pocket money for the trip, yet I would be boarding an inter-continental jet in eight days. I prayed again and those who don't believe in miracles should skip the next few sentences.
On Sept. 6, with three days to go before my departure, I received donations from a patron on the west coast and from another back east. These were sufficient to cover my basic expenses in Britain. I was on my way!
I landed in London on Sept. 10 and made my way to the citadel of British white factory-enslavement during the Industrial Revolution, the cotton capital of Manchester, where I visited the site of the Peterloo massacre of 1819, in which the aristocracy used the British army against 60,000 unarmed factory slaves and weavers who had gathered to protest their servitude. Sixteen were killed and hundreds maimed and disfigured by sword thrusts.
There is virtually no memorial to this outrage. These white Christian slaves were of the wrong race and religion. A barely visible, tiny oval plaque marks the field where the massacre occurred but makes no reference to what actually transpired, referring only to a "military dispersal." With the exception of local historians, none of the native people of Manchester with whom I spoke was even aware of a memorial to the slaughter.
I next visited the city of Manchester's archives for primary and secondary materials pertaining to the enslavement of whites both in manufacture and the mines of Britain. I was gratified to obtain some valuable intelligence on the conditions of child labor in British mines, including statistical data which I had heretofore been unable to gather for my book, They Were White and They Were Slaves. I also secured all the extant government commission reports on white child labor in the mining industry.
This compensated me for a disappointment at the Yorkshire Museum of Mining where I was unable to meet with a researcher who has key materials on the appalling toil of children in British mines.
Additional searches turned up letters, poems and a diary written by white slaves as well as additional information on the "climbing boys"--the horribly oppressed and sentimentally romanticized chimney sweeping children whose dreadful bondage is documented in my book.
From Manchester I journeyed on Britain's excellent train system to Scotland. I concentrated my visit upon the ancient Edinburgh castle and specifically the "Stone of Destiny" which has been returned to Scotland after 700 years in England.This object is the coronation stone upon which every king of England has sat when crowned, since the early Middle Ages. There is a vast body of legend and lore surrounding this ashlar, both Christian and masonic, claiming that it's everything from a meteorite to Jacob's Pillow. I have not been satisfied with previous explanations regarding it's pivotal role in the making of the Scottish and English monarchies and as part of my study I needed to view the stone as well as its environs.
While at the castle I also studied the medieval St. Margaret's chapel, where I met with a local Scottish researcher and there, under a stained glass depiction of William Wallace, we discussed both the merits and the historical errors in Mel Gibson's film, Braveheart.
All work and no play makes for a dull historian so I finished my Edinburgh tour with a visit to a site connected with the real-life Jekyll and Hyde, the ghoulish William Brodie, who by day was Deacon-Councillor of Edinburgh and by night an audacious thief and seducer. He was hanged in 1788. I wanted to go north to Aberdeen, the premiere kidnapping city, where thousands of white children were victims of 17th and 18th century press gangs, perhaps on my next trip.
I headed for Wales, to a Bronze Age site which has been sacredfor two thousand years, in a spectacularly beautiful vale in mid-Wales. There rests the oldest Christian shrine in northern Europe--the shrine to the virgin saint Melangel. It must be one of the loveliest places on earth.
I returned with cuttings from a venerable old giant of a tree at the site, a 2,000 year old yew. Its massive trunk gave evidence of the centuries it has seen. The yew is significant to the Celts and Anglo-Saxons, having served as the finest raw material for the crafting of the deadly long-bow which made the British so formidable in battle and which figured in the defeat of the French at Agincourt.
Then it was on to my peregrination to London, for a meeting with one of the most energetic activists in the country who, alas, must remain anonymous. He appraised me of the situation of Lady Jane Birdwood, who will be tried a third time for daring to write some unpleasant truths about the JudaicTalmud. He also escorted me to a few history sites, though we did not have the opportunity to visit Marbel Arch, the site of Tyburn Gallows, scene of the hanging of thousands of white slaves and servants whose only crime was their poverty.
I also visited the ancient Roman city of York, home of the 2nd century Roman military garrison and the immense, 11th century Yorkminster Cathedral, with its "Great Window," an astonishing feat of medieval glasswork--the largest stain-glass window in the world. Gothic cathedrals haunt me and I found myself staring up at the riot of exterior arches and gargoyles long into the night, a modern pilgrim trodding a time-worn path to the embodiment in stone of a people's faith and genius. (Yorkminster is actually atop an ancient Norman chapel, distinguished by the tell-tale "dogtooth" arches which were the signature of Norman architecture).
Missing my Yorkshire mining contact I made use of the proximity to Haworth for a visit to the spooky Moors and the three sisters who poured the spirit of that desolate wilderness into their inkwells. At the Brontë parsonage I witnessed the birthplace of the tragic literature of Charlotte, Emily and Ann, three largely home-schooled women whose books have never been out of print since first penned 150 years ago. Emily's spirit especially has always struck me as quintessentially noble--her fierce and intractable stoicism and independence.
As a result of my journey to Britain, I was delighted to extend my white slaves research dramatically.
--Michael A. Hoffman II ©1997 All Rights Reserved.
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