Sunday, April 22, 2007

"The Christian King of Great Britain"

The ever-refreshing Christopher Hitchens (whose brief biograph of Jefferson I enjoyed, although I wish it had been more acerbic) has an interesting article up at City Journal: "Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates". Here's a snippet:
How many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780? . . .

Some of this activity was hostage trading and ransom farming rather than the more labor-intensive horror of the Atlantic trade and the Middle Passage, but it exerted a huge effect on the imagination of the time—and probably on no one more than on Thomas Jefferson. Peering at the paragraph denouncing the American slave trade in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, later excised, I noticed for the first time that it sarcastically condemned “the Christian King of Great Britain” for engaging in “this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers.” The allusion to Barbary practice seemed inescapable.

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