Part 2: Empire
I have been the path to new opportunities.
When white men set out beyond their homes, I pulled their ships to the edge of the world. I presented new continents, the world, to those brave, or ambitious, enough to ride my waves. Magellan circled around the globe upon my seven seas. Columbus stumbled into the New World within my vastness.
But when the peoples of the new lands greeted the white newcomers, their gestures of peace were returned by volleys of disease. I helped the conquerers wash away thousands of savages.
When growing states desired more land and wealth, I brought their armies to free land, to unclaimed gold and silver, to leaderless subjects awaiting rule. Dutch ships found spice in India. French explorers made fisheries in Canada. And British pioneers settled colonies in America.
But the free land had civilizations already present. Native peoples lost their homes, their riches, their kings to greedy foreigners. I washed grabbing hands ashore and took everything out on the tide.
When the colonies wanted more than just land, I gave them a way to gain free labor. Slavers sailed across me from Liverpool to Africa in ships loaded with cloth and guns. They gave the guns to Africans who sold their brothers to the whites. Then the white kidnappers crossed me from Nigeria to Virginia, and back across to England for another round.
But many of the ships that carried slaves, I devoured. The profiteers could plead my mercies for their trade, but I am not a forgiving master.
On the plantation, when the overseer grew tired from whipping, I refreshed his strength with coldness.
But when he was not looking, another slave soothed the victim with a few drops.
To be continued…
("Fate of the Rebel Flag." Courtesy of William Bauly)
- History is Aquatic, Part 2 - January 14, 2019
- History is Aquatic, Part 1 - November 19, 2018
- History is Aquatic, Part 3 - October 16, 2018
- On the Exceptional Educational Value of the Reef Aquarium - November 8, 2017