Charles Darwin against slavery

This video is called The Genius of Charles Darwin, Part 1 – Life, Darwin & Everything.

From the New Scientist:

Hatred of slavery drove Darwin to emancipate all life

15:18 29 January 2009 by Rowan Hooper

* Book information
* Darwin’s Sacred Cause by Adrian Desmond and James Moore
* Published by: Allen Lane
* Price: £25
* ISBN: 978-1846140358

For someone who came up with what has justly been described as “the single best idea anyone has ever had”, Darwin has been vilified to an extraordinary degree. Clearly, his achievement of uniting all species under a common ancestor outraged millions, and still does. This book spectacularly humanises him, showing how he was driven by the great moral cause of his day: opposition to slavery.

Adrian Desmond and James Moore have come up with something astonishing: a radical new explanation of the force that drove Darwin. I hesitate to call this work definitive, as that was how the same authors’ epic biography of Darwin was described in 1991. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to further elevate the standing Darwin and his work have, but by trawling through reams of correspondence and notebooks, Desmond and Moore have done just that.

Darwin’s family was passionately abolitionist and he continually mixed with people devoted to the cause. On his travels aboard the Beagle he was outraged by the suffering he saw inflicted by slavery, and that left a bigger impression on him than, say, the Galapagos finches.

While we know Darwin’s ideas on overpopulation and competition were influenced by Thomas Malthus, we have not appreciated how, in Desmond and Moore’s words, his “emancipation of all life from its Creative chains”, was driven by a passionate desire to see slaves liberated from their masters. And while the industrial revolution is recognised as a major influence, the effect of the gigantic and powerful slave trade has been ignored.

See also here. And here.

David Attenborough on Charles Darwin’s legacy: here.

Half of Britons reject evolution, survey finds: here.

UK Governments tribute to Darwin is just lip service: here.

Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present
By John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark & Richard York
Monthly Review Press, 2008
240 pages, $33.95. Review of this book: here.

[Audio] Marxism and Darwinism: here.

Harriet Beecher Stowe: here.

Did slave’s stay inspire Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”? Here.

Long before Tea Party activists and other sundry conservatives detected the ghost of socialism in health care reform and financial regulation legislation, proslavery theorists argued that abolition was akin to socialism: here.

10 thoughts on “Charles Darwin against slavery

  1. Darwin: planten in de evolutietheorie

    Ook de Hortus botanicus besteedt in het Darwinjaar aandacht aan deze wereldberoemde wetenschapper. Op zondag 8 maart verzorgt dr. Gerda van Uffelen van de Leidse Hortus botanicus een wandeling langs planten die belangrijk zijn geweest in het wetenschappelijke leven van Charles Darwin.

    De bekende bioloog Charles Darwin (1809 -1882) interesseerde zich niet alleen voor dieren en fossielen, maar ook voor planten. Hij schreef enkele boeken vol met observaties over wilde en gekweekte planten, over hun groeivorm, bloemen en bestuiving. Zijn evolutietheorie verklaarde dat zowel planten als dieren zijn in te delen in natuurlijke systemen, dat wil zeggen op hun verwantschap en daaruit voortvloeiende gelijkenis.

    De wandeling voert onder andere langs de systeemtuin (waarin planten staan ingedeeld op hun evolutionaire verwantschap) en langs de grote collecties vleeseters en orchideeën.

    De plant en de vlinder

    Tijdens deze wandeling valt u van de ene verbazing in de andere. Zo blijken pompoenen en beuken in één bed van de systeemtuin te horen en zijn er bij vleesetende planten vele typen vallen ontwikkeld om nietsvermoedende insecten te verschalken. Gerda van Uffelen neemt u ook mee langs enkele bloeiende orchideeën, waarbij Darwin het verband beschreef tussen bloemvorm en bestuiver. Zo kon hij voorspellen dat Angraecum sesquipedale bestoven zou moeten worden door een vlinder met een tong van dertig centimeter, want het stuifmeel zit aan het eind van een dertig centimeter lange spoor. Dertig jaar later werd deze vlindersoort inderdaad ontdekt?.

    Deze en meer bijzondere wetenswaardigheden krijgt u te horen op zondag 8 maart.

    Na de wandeling is Grand Café Clusius geopend voor een kopje koffie, thee of warme chocolademelk.

    Aanvang: 12.00 uur in de voortuin van de Hortus botanicus.

    Deelnamekosten entree + ? 1,50.

    Zondagwandeling 8 maart 2009: Darwin: planten in de evolutietheorie


  2. Charles Darwin’s Voyage Whale Tooth May Sell for 50,000 Pounds

    By Thomas Penny

    March 23 (Bloomberg) — A whale’s tooth engraved with scenes from Charles Darwin’s voyage to the Galapagos Islands may fetch as much as 50,000 pounds ($73,100) at a London sale, auction house Bonhams said.

    The tooth was engraved by James Bute, a marine on HM sloop Beagle on the 1834 voyage that was crucial to Darwin’s development of the concept of evolution, the auction house said in an e-mailed statement today.

    The engraving on the tooth, which is seven inches (18 centimeters) long, shows the Beagle in rough seas on one side and ashore for repairs on the other. Both are signed J.A. Bute, who is listed as one of the detachment of marines on the voyage.

    The world record price for scrimshaw, as carving on bones by sailors is known, is $182,250 for an American example which was sold in Boston three years ago, Bonhams said.

    “This is without doubt the most important British scrimshaw to come on to the market in my 30-year career, especially as 2009 is the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and 150 years since the publication The Origin of the Species,” Jon Baddeley, head of collectors at Bonhams, said in the statement.

    The sale on Sept. 16 will include books, manuscripts, maps and other artifacts relating to expeditions and voyages from the 17th to 20th centuries.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Penny in London at

    Last Updated: March 23, 2009 07:55 EDT


  3. Ecuador curbs migration for lucrative jobs in Galapagos Islands

    By Sara Miller Llana | Christian Science Monitor

    GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, Ecuador – Jairo Montenegro grew up in the northern sierras of Ecuador, in the tiny town of Tulcan. He had never set foot on a boat. But in 2001 he moved to the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the mainland coast, to work as a crew member on a cruise liner.

    In doing so he joined a wave of Ecuadoreans relocating to these remote islands in an economic exodus fueled by high-paying tourism jobs. Mr. Montenegro earns $780 a month on the crew – a small fortune compared with the $120 per month he pocketed as a hotel concierge at home.

    But now, in an effort to conserve the islands, officials are tightening migration laws. They have put residency requirements on Ecuadoreans that are, in some ways, as tough as those on foreigners trying to gain citizenship in the United States. Even children born to parents on the islands are not automatically granted permanent residency unless their parents also are permanent residents.

    Since the new regulations were put in place, nearly 1,000 have returned to Ecuador, many involuntarily. And in the year of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, whose voyage to the Galapagos cemented his theory on evolution, the controls have touched off a storm of protest, angering locals who say they are treated as illegal immigrants in their own country and raising questions about balancing human development and ecological preservation.

    “The Galapagos belongs to Ecuador,” Montenegro says. “Instead, authorities go looking for people in discos, listen to the way we speak in stores to see if we are from somewhere else, as if we were criminals.”


    Nearly all of the sea, coasts, and mountains that make up the Galapagos belong to the national park. Residents can only live within 3 percent of the territory. But within that space, the population has surged.

    Santa Cruz is the most populous Galapagos Island. Its main town, Puerto Ayora, resembles any other Latin American city with food stalls, tire shops, and public phone centers lining the streets. Ten years ago about 10,000 people called this city home. Now, because of migration and high birthrates, the number has nearly doubled.

    In 2007, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) placed the Galapagos on its list of endangered World Heritage Sites because of overcrowding – they say the islands have a total of 30,000 residents now – and the threats posed by tourism, invasive species, and illegal fishing.

    Many are surprised to learn that people actually inhabit “nature’s laboratory.” Despite its isolation, however, which allowed for the evolution of finches, blue-footed boobies, and playful sea lions that show little fear of tourists, humans have had contact for five centuries here.

    New residents continue to arrive, taking advantage of well-paid jobs in tourism, which grows unabated – quadrupling from 1990 to 2008, to more than 170,000 visitors last year. Tourists and residents require more food and fuel each year, and the boats and planes that bring them here also bring with them mosquitoes, flies, rats, and plants that overrun the island’s endemic species. According to Ingala, the regional planning office, from January to September of last year, about 5,500 tons of cargo arrived by ship.

    “Migration and tourism are among the biggest threats to the Galapagos,” says Eliecer Cruz, a former governor of Galapagos who now works with the World Wildlife Fund. Both contribute to invasive species, such as blackberries, which strangle native plants and destroy ecosystems.


    Rules on migration were carved into a special law in 1998, but the regulations to enforce them were not signed and implemented until 2007, Mr. Cruz says. With the new rules, residents without the proper residency or work permits were notified they would have to leave. Those who have not complied have been sent home involuntarily with the national police. Checkpoints have become a norm here.

    “It’s much stricter now than it was before because of overpopulation,” says Luis Ordonez, an inspector general with the national police in an interview in Quito. “Now, it’s as hard to go there as if you were going to the US.”

    All of this has not made the head of Ingala, which also oversees migration, well loved. “I know it is hard to see a family member have to leave,” says Fabian Zapata, who says the agency was forced to hire a night guard while the new rules were being created because of threats that locals wanted to burn down their offices. “But it is the only way to conserve the islands.”

    Locals get around the rules as they can, marrying natives for resident cards. That’s what Montenegro did – though he insists it was for love. He says he has friends who have taken jobs in the highlands, as opposed to in the port, to hide from officials. Twenty percent of the population was believed to be living here without the proper documentation, before the migration regulations took effect.

    Some locals agree with the restrictions. Paolo Jimenez moved here from mainland Ecuador two years ago. He has the proper paperwork now, but when it expires, if it is not renewed, he says he’ll go home. “This is not just any place,” says the taxi driver. “There is a responsibility.”


    The 2007 UNESCO warning drew plenty of attention to the islands conservation problems. But Edgar Munoz, director of the Galapagos National Park Service, says the international community cannot forget that people live here.

    Learning how to balance environmental needs with development is a global challenge, and one question that officials say is a daily struggle.

    “The people cannot look at the Galapagos as if it were inside a glass enclosure not to be touched,” Mr. Munoz says. “Still we have to learn how to live with the least impact possible.”

    Conservationists are tackling this problem daily. Cristina Georgii, who carries out the education and sustainable development program at the Charles Darwin Foundation in Santa Cruz, works with the school system to incorporate course work on sustainability into the public school curriculum.

    The government is seeking to woo fishermen into tourism jobs, so that depleted stocks, such as sea cucumbers, can be replenished. The UNESCO report says that up to 300,000 sharks are caught illegally each year in the waters of the Galapagos for the booming Asian demand for shark-fin soup. Ingala has also launched a job bank to place locals into positions, so that employers don’t petition to bring workers from the mainland.

    These are small steps, and much bigger ones are needed, conservationists say, including a commitment from the government to conserve the islands, but Cruz says he feels hopeful that with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, who ushered in a new constitution last year that enshrines the rights of nature, there is more of a commitment to the Galapagos than ever before. President Correa had highlighted the threats facing Galapagos before the UNESCO warning. “If [Correa] can’t do it, no one can,” says Cruz.

    McClatchy Newspapers 2009

    Posted on Wednesday, March 25, 2009


  4. Clarence Darrow Quote

    “If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a
    crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make
    it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year
    you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the
    church. At the next session you may ban books and the
    newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant
    and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own
    religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do
    the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs
    feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is
    the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next
    day the preachers and the lectures, the magazines, the
    books, the newspapers. After a while, your honor, it is the
    setting of man against man and creed against creed until
    with flying banners and beating drums we are marching
    backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when
    bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring
    any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human
    — Clarence Darrow, “Scopes Trial” courtroom speech,
    July 13, 1925


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