SLAVE WHIP

Godalming Museum, ref: B980.332.2


This whip was given to Godalming Museum in 1958 and was described as a 'slave whip'. There was no further information about how old it is or where it came from, but similar types of cattle whip have been described as being used on plantations to punish slaves. The whip is made from strips of leather plaited into a series of knots around a centre of twisted strands of leather. Its thickness tapers from about thumb-size at the handle end to a fingernail's width at the tail, the last quarter of which is coiled (rather than knotted) and spliced at the end. While the whip was designed to have enough ferocity to drive reluctant cattle, it's effects on human flesh have been recorded as being horrific, causing deep wounds and, undoubtedly, immense pain.

This object has been displayed in a small ehibition at Godalming Museum to mark the bicentenery (in 2007) of the abolition of the British trade in slaves. An act of Parliament was passed on 25th March 1807 abolishing the trade, but slavery on British-owned plantations continued for nearly 30 years after this, during which time there were many uprisings by slaves in the West Indies. Researchers at the museum uncovered and highlighted connections which existed between local landowners of the day and slavery. One who stands out for his stance against the trade is General Oglethorpe (1696-1785).

 

 

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