Letter: Slavery's cruelty goes beyond colour

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The Independent Online
Sir: Did Ms Zeller's 'history lessons in school on the slave trade' teach her that Britain's fight against the slave trade did not end even with the freeing of the slaves in the US in 1863, as described by Peter Gresham (letter, 31 July)? As but one example, Admiral Sir William Creswell wrote in his memoirs (Heinemann, 1965) of naval service against Arab slavers in East Africa in 1876-8 (in terms that have a familiar ring today):

The suppression of the slave trade was in point of fact an international duty and subject of treaty between the Great Powers, but in characteristic fashion, Britain took on the job, doubtless with the noblest of intentions but, again in characteristic fashion, with at first the most insufficient means.

For their successful operations in HMS London, he and a brother lieutenant 'received the special thanks of the Foreign Minister, Lord Salisbury', and doubtless also of thousands of freed slaves.

Yours faithfully,

RANDOLPH VIGNE

London, SW7

31 July

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