Talk:George Fife Angas

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A fuller version of Angas's biography exists at Ozdaren 14:19, 19 June 2006 (UTC)


Is this a copyvio of

See CopyScape's comparison

I understand that copyright has ended for the content at Gutenberg, but it should at least be referenced.

Mark Hurd 05:49, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Don't worry, it's the first reference.

Mark Hurd 05:58, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

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Slave owner or activist in emancipation[edit]

Recent edits have left us with the headline description of "English businessman, banker and slaveholder" and the paragraph

Over the next 20 years Angas took a large role in the family business in Newcastle with branches in British ports, the West Indies and Spanish America, and steadily developed his own shipping business in London, also spending time in Honduras where he owned 121 slaves. He was awarded some ₤6,942 by the British government in 1835 as a result of the compensation scheme that arose with the abolition of slavery.[1]

The Guardian also has an article about the new book that highlights Angas as a poster-boy of using gains from slavery to establish his holdings in SA.[2] Both the article and the Legacies of British Slave-ownership database describe that G.F.Angas collected the compensation.[3] All four claims were awarded to other people. Neither the Guardian nor the database appear to assert that Angas himself was a slave owner. The database does not appear to indicate what the relationships were that led to Angas collecting the cash, nor what he did with it next. It seems a stretch to assert that he was a slave-owner himself based only on him having been the assigned collector. He might just as likely have been an associate able to collect in person then transfer the money to Honduras, or a debtor who was receiving the compensation in payment of a debt from the claimant. Does the book give clearer detail? --Scott Davis Talk 05:42, 22 November 2018 (UTC)

Further checks - it is 70 years later, but The Advertiser in 1909 certainly associates Angas with the emancipists not the slave holders.[4] I've also found other references that put Angas with Wilberforce and Buxton. --Scott Davis Talk 06:13, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
Another fact to check - the article presently states that he spent time in Honduras. That seems to be derived purely from the fact that he collected the compensation moneys. Other sources state that he had founded the Provincial National Bank in 1833 and the Union Bank of Australia in 1836, both in London, around the time of the compensation settlements. He seems to have spent the early part of his adult life working with and for his father in England, not in Honduras. --Scott Davis Talk 13:49, 22 November 2018 (UTC)
  1. ^ Fernandes, C. Island Off the Coast of Asia: Instruments of statecraft in Australian foreign policy (Melbourne: Monash University Publishing, 2018), 13-14.
  2. ^ Daley, Paul (21 September 2018). "Colonial Australia's foundation is stained with the profits of British slavery". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "George Fife Angas". Legacies of British Slave-ownership. University College London. Retrieved 22 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "GEORGE FIFE ANGAS". The Advertiser. LII, (15, 914). South Australia. 19 October 1909. p. 7. Retrieved 22 November 2018 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)

The author in question is Clinton Fernandes. You should provide all of these references in the article. I agree that the Legacies database does not demonstrate that George Fife Angas owned slaves and that he collected claims he had not lodged himself. This is ambiguous but certainly suspicious, hence his place on the database. Were the claims collected because of some other from of intervention, like debt collection? Were the claims merely collected as a favour to business associates who couldn't collect them? I argue that the section should be amended to say words to the effect "...spending time in Honduras where he had business associations with slaveholders, having collected their large compensatory claims after abolition for unknown reasons". That way it reflects the ambiguity of the database; he wasn't a slaveholder but was connected to compensation in a way that appears financial in nature. User:Jack bulldog 2012 23:51, 22 November 2018 (UTC). There is no evidence that his name on the database is suspicious. Given his banking career, it is reasonably likely that he might have had the skills to collect payments for others. Also, it should be remembered that he was heavily involved in the anti-slavery movement, so could have seen this as a way of facilitating the freedom of those slaves. He was also involved in the Newcastle Sunday school movement that aimed to give literacy skills to the poor. Furthermore, he was actively involved in the setting up of the first Australian colony to provide residents with religious freedom and grant land rights to indigenous people. He was also responsible for inviting persecuted Hugenots to settle there, which resulted in the South Australian wine industry and the naming of the town Angaston in his honour. There is no evidence that Angas ever owned or condoned the ownership of slaves.

New academic scholarship, including by Professor Catherine Hall and Humphrey McQueen (see Coventry Links in the Chain), expands on the Legacies information to show that Angas and his family used slaves through their business and also through there business supply chain. Angas is lauded as anti-slavery after the end of slavery, consistent with most other former beneficiaries of slavery who sought to distance themselves from the practice. A balanced and fair account of Angas must reflect the opinion of recent historians and recent scholarship, and without engaging in an original research re-examination of evidence. Hence, the wiki has been amended. User:Jack bulldog 2012 07:52, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

Coventry, author of Links in the Chain, is a PHD student and not yet an authority on these matters. Nevertheless, the article states very clearly that Angas is not recorded as owning or receiving any meaningful benefit from slavery. The work of Catherine Hall of UCL has shown how integral slavery was to the economy, even where people were not slave owners. As such, anyone living at the time could be deemed to have derived benefits from slavery. The Legacies database and all other evidence currently known about Angas show that neither he personally, nor his direct family members, nor their family business ever owned slaves. In this context, it is important that wikipedia entries on people from this period only suggest that someone personally benefitted from or supported slavery when there is very clear evidence that they did. Some comments here appear to have an agenda, so it is important that the Wikipedia entry remains factual and does not contain opinion. Other locations are better suited to the expression of such opinions.

What is know is that he imported mahogany from Honduras for a family carriage-making business based in Newcastle and that he become involved in the creation of innovative new banks that did not follow the partnership model. As such, he had business dealings with mahogany exporters in Honduras who owned slaves and his bank also had the facilities to transfer money issued in London to businesses owners in Honduras.

It is also know that, possibly because of his Baptist faith, he had very strongly held views about the rights of all humans to religious freedom and education. It should be remembered that Angas lived at a time when non-conformists like Baptists and Methodists, as well as Roman Catholics and Jews, were barred from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and from holding public office.

One of Angas' daughters nursed refugees in Beirut, where she caught smallpox and died. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:48, 23 March 2019 (UTC)

The wiki should reflect the balance of historical research. Five historical sources (Hall, Fernandes, McQueen, the Legacies of British Slave-ownership Centre, and Coventry) argue that Angas was a slaveholder and benefitted directly from slavery. There are no historians who argue otherwise. In order to state otherwise one must engage in original research, which is what the wiki presently does on this matter. You have misunderstood the Coventry article. The point is that Legacies only says Angas "collected" compensatory amounts, not the reasons why. However, the research of Hall and McQueen shows that there was actual ownership of slaves by Angas. For this wiki to be objective it needs to state what the present balance of historical research is. Remember, no historian disputes this argument as yet. Unless you can disprove this, I struggle to see how I am the editor with an "agenda"... User:Jack bulldog 2012 20:05, 29 March 2019 (UTC)

Firming up evidence that Angas owned slaves[edit]

I'm new to this topic (since a couple of days ago when I came across a photo of his wife and uploaded it), so please be gentle with me!  ;-)

Reading through the article and this Talk page, it became apparent that evidence for Angas's ownership of slaves is not well substantiated at present. I see that Jack bulldog has said:

Five historical sources (Hall, Fernandes, McQueen, the Legacies of British Slave-ownership Centre, and Coventry) argue that Angas was a slaveholder and benefitted [sic] directly from slavery. There are no historians who argue otherwise. ... The point is that Legacies only says Angas "collected" compensatory amounts, not the reasons why. However, the research of Hall and McQueen shows that there was actual ownership of slaves by Angas.

Clinton Fernandes also supports this view, if correctly reported in the Guardian article (ref 7):

The ADB says "he joined influential reformers in fighting for the emancipation of slaves and the restoration of nonconformist missionaries in British Honduras". It omits to mention he'd also been a slave owner. "According to this [UCL] database George Fife Angas ... was compensated for four claims in Honduras in 1835. The claims involved more than £6,942 for 121 slaves," Fernandes writes.

There's a big distinction between owning and not owning slaves, which surely obliges an explicit reference for the evidence that "the research of Hall and McQueen shows that there was actual ownership of slaves by Angas" since verifiability policy says that an inline citation to a reliable source must be provided for ... anything challenged or likely to be challenged. Can this be provided by someone who has access to the research?

Second query: I don't really understand Jack's comment: "In order to state otherwise one must engage in original research, which is what the wiki presently does on this matter." In which way does the article reflect that? (Genuine question; no agenda behind it.) I thought Wikipedia articles must not contain original research. Cheers, Simon – SCHolar44 🇦🇺 💬 at 05:26, 27 December 2020 (UTC)

Hi SCHolar44. As you will have seen, I have had a go at providing better citations, which gives us access to the full text of the McQueen and Coventry sources, and probably the Hall one if you email via ResearchGate (which I haven't done myself because I really don't have time to dig deeper at this point). I don't have access to the print book by Fernandes. As far as I can see after a skim-read, McQueen and Coventry are not suggesting that Angas himself owned slaves, but that he benefited from money made on the back of slaves by his father's (and perhaps other family?) involvement in the mahogany trade, which used both "wage-slaves" and chattel slaves at different points in the chain. I think that what is in the article pretty much represents this, regardless of what is written on the talk page - what do you think? While there is an apparent contradiction in his personal anti-slavery stance, we can not know what was in his head and heart without trawling through miles of documents at the State Library of South Australia, and even then quite likely not finding anything. Perhaps he grew up not questioning it, and then became enlightened, as many did during those times? It doesn't alter the fact that riches gained off the back of slaves by his father were probably used in building the colony, which I think the article represents in summary form.
As far as I can see, Davey in the Guardian article has either misinterpreted what Fernandes has written, or (less likely) that Fernandes drew the wrong conclusion about Angas actually owning slaves himself, when he writes: "It omits to mention he’d also been a slave owner", which is clearly not in the Legacies database. I think this is rightly omitted from the Wikipedia article.
As to your question about Jack's comment, I'm not sure what he means there. Oh and I also created a separate section for the slavery issue, although couldn't think of an adequate title, and of course anyone is welcome to change it or disagree with what I've done. Laterthanyouthink (talk) 02:17, 29 December 2020 (UTC)