CLIO 7 (1) - page 26

not death from dehydration. The clinical speed at
which this decision was made confirmed the general
attitude towards slaves as purely objects with mone-
tary value. By dehumanising them in such a way, the
slave captains were able to build on their financial
fortunes while maintaining a distance from its reali-
On arriving back in Liverpool, James Greg-
son (the Zong’s owner) made his claim: £4,000 for
the loss of ‘cargo’. The case went to court, not for
charges of murder, but over who was financially
liable, again showing the detachment held by those
facilitating the brutality. Collingwood claimed to
have had insufficient water to maintain the lives of
his crew and the healthier slaves, although of it later
transpired that on arrival in Jamaica there were still
some 430 gallons of water to spare on board the
ship. Eventually, the case went Gregson’s way and he
made his money. The insurers appealed and the case
came before the court for a second time. By now, in
May 1783, it had become a huge scandal and came to
the attention of leading English abolitionist, Gran-
ville Sharp, who wanted to bring forward a case of
murder but the judge, Lord Mansfield, brushed aside
his attempt, asserting ‘Blacks are goods and proper-
ty; What is this claim that human people have been
thrown is madness to accuse these
well-serving honourable men of murder.’ Sharp failed
in his attempts to seek justice on this occasion but
over the coming years he used it to raise awareness
in Parliament and with the church, and it increased
the call for abolition. The Abolition Society, founded
in 1787, used the Zong Massacre as the prime exam-
ple of the slave trade’s depravity. And, in 1807, 20
years of campaigning was met with abolition.
However, the injustice and the casual man-
ner in which Granville Sharp’s pointed and adequate
accusation of murder was neglected exemplifies the
ignorance and negligence of so many key figures of
power in the 17th century.
The great wealth slavery brought to those
higher in society’s hierarchal structure, for example
judges and bishops, led to the normalisation and in-
stitutionalisation of prejudiced ideals towards equal-
ity and justice. As a result of this, it was much harder
for individuals to campaign for the basic rights of
those enslaved thus allowing the slave trade to con-
tinue for as long as it did.
Julia Myers 11W
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