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Atlantic Worlds Paper 2012.docx

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HIST 1011
Owen Stanwood

Thien Dam Atlantic Worlds I Paper Option #3 Stedman’s PoliticalArgument in Favor ofAbolition Of all the accounts John Gabriel Stedman has encountered in Surinam in the 1770s, the stories he write down in the book gives the reader a tasteful view about the slave society. Most of the stories he tells describe slaves as beautiful and handsome people. The attitude that they give him during his stay in Surinam is comforting, valued, and loved. Sometimes, Stedman would actually pause from storytelling and compare the slaves with Europeans. But, in the midst of Stedman’s delightful and interesting descriptions of his encounters with these slaves, the stories, one can say, are for most parts, just supportive evidences to a deeper meaning of what Stedman is really trying to communicate to his readers. One can firmly argue that his intention of writing this book was to make a political argument in favor of abolition. Stedman was careful when choosing the stories he would write down in his book. Many of his stories depicted slaves with a good heart. When he encountered the first slaves, Stedman described them as “excellent nurses” who “carefully attends” Europeans that are frequently exposed to the illnesses in the country. Women slaves nursed the Europeans “as if he were their lawful husband” by treating them with tenderness (pg.20).At some point, Stedman spends quite some time to describe how beautiful Surinam women slaves were (pg.40). When he was seriously ill, the slaves took him in and treated him until he gained back his strength (pg.85). Stedman might have chosen these stories to describe the slaves because he is bias towards them and so he favors their more honorable traits. He might have also done so just because that was what he truly observed at Surinam. For what reasons he might have done so, one can argue that these stories were chosen to help him make his argument in favor of abolition. While these may only be stories, Stedman is introducing them to the reader so we would start off with a good connotation about the slaves in Surinam. For those who are pro-slavery readers, these stories might not have the same effect for them but it would educate them about the slaves they called “uncivilized”. For the Europeans who favored the slavery movement, Stedman included accounts of slave and European interaction; some of which are quite disturbing to the readers. On one account while returning home, Stedman remembers seeing “newly imported Negroes” who had just landed ashore “to be sold for slaves to the best bidder in the
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