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‘Our Poor Robyn’
From the Journal of Jasper Danckaerts, 1679-1680, pages 1-42


Working from the photo PDF archive held by The Library of Congress

Danckaerts and his companion were both radical Christian evangelicals of the Labadist sect, who viewed Non-Christians largely as beasts and less severe Christians as fools. They even credit God with breaking the leg of a rude sailor and otherwise smugly sneer at the world. That said, they do not keep slaves, despite being part of the super elite who are given tours of military installations by governors of foreign kings and otherwise shown favor as they appear to be traditional clergy and do not bother to disabuse their hosts of these false notions and practice a reasonable passive deception.

Danckaerts is an expert navigator and seaman, actually a sailing “nerd” who attempts to advise a dimwitted captain, help lazy sailors and correct navigational errors in the age’s charts. These men were scouting for places to plant Labadist communities in the New World with Danckaerts showing a level of sophistication in agriculture, civic planning, navigation, military installations, ecology and language equal to that of the scientist Peter Kalm of 65-years later.

In European waters and ports the reader finds that sailing was simply a death-defying feat and that every member of a ship was in great peril. Additionally personal slaves, a widow, an orphan boy and a nondescript “girl” are mentioned off hand in Europe along with a litany of expenses for any one weighing anchor in British waters, as the customs officials were predatory. With foreign dignitaries being searched like suspected terrorists by TSA officers by the very corrupt customs officials, one can only imagine what a lack of sympathy there was for the human cargo, who, are beneath mention in the main, simply alluded to as packed bodies making it impossible to get to one’s stowed cargo below decks, decks where one could not stand, indeed could hardly sit.

On Tuesday, July 18th, 1679, it was noted that four Dutch ships had been captured by Islamic Pirates, all of those folks destined for a life of slavery of the cruelest sort. “Turks” were also a concern in the open Atlantic in later portions of the voyage. When noting the callous disregard for the servant class among their own people by the European Super Elite, one should keep in mind that all parties involved knew of a far worse fate than being sold as chattel in North America, that of being sold as chattel in North Africa!

As with other period journals of this time which I have perused, the translations and reprints have been managed by academic America historians of the late 1800s and early 1900, roughly 1866 thru 1913 and that all of these historians openly took the side of the super elite perspective in every aspect of American social history, in large part, because in the 1600s and 1700s, the only academic perspective was that of the super elite autodidact, with middle class Americans descended from largely unfree folk ironically keeping academic solidarity with the mega rich class who had owned and exploited their ancestors!

That’s said, a certain amount of deception was also practiced in the late 1800s as a mythological image of America was being consciously and collectively assembled from the rags of real history and the whole cloth of jingoistic destiny gospels. For instance the translator deleted all of Jasper’s journal entries for the Middle Passage, from July 19 through September 21 1679! However, 19th century academics have thankfully never had the creative and holistic gifts of the novelist and failed to tie up their lie by omission, leaving a footnote noting their crime—even citing how interesting and brutal the deleted entries were—and then failed to delete Jasper’s recollections, for the guilt ridden Christian attempted a summary of the hellish voyage, which he found difficult and almost lethal as a member of the captain’s privileged dinner company.

-Moldy bread and salted fish heads were the standard rations, the water putrid. Peter and his companion would have starved had they not had money to buy food in England.

-When copious amounts of mackerel were caught, the Captain refused to share out the food but let his sailors starve while the fish rotted on the hooks.

-Jasper, a travelling dignitary, was beaten by a mate with a whip. How well must the human cargo have been treated?

-The wife of the richest man in New York dined in fine style on fresh food in the captain’s cabin.

-The ship was thriving with vermin and disease. Sleeping on the deck of the storm-tossed ship was a luxury compared to the meat locker below.

-Jasper’s aging cat took to the rigging and spotted land first!

-When Indians came on board off Long Island passengers wanted to leave with them in their canoes—to escape—but the captain had them held for sale.

-Jasper attempted a summary of the horrors of the voyage and half a page into the litany he writes, “Our poor Robyn [a sailor they befriended]… I cannot permit myself to go further; it is too unpleasant a subject.”

He then dutifully reminds that he gave the full account earlier, which the American historian deleted almost exactly 200 years later.

The description of a nearly Virgin New York, only inhabited by filthy Europeans for 65 years, dazzles the mind. Having seen the sterile and hideous waters around Manhattan and the warrens of block, glass, brick and concrete, for this reviewer to read of fresh water springs, of rivers teaming with whales, dolphins, giant tuna and schooling fish so numerous that eagles soar over the rivers fishing and starved passengers hauled fish up with their own hooks, Indians dining on abundant oysters as much as two feet long, a complete picture, of an ecosystem murdered by using starving humans as toiling fertilizer begins to take shape.

On an oddly endearing note, Jasper and his companion, a kore austere religious man, tour the beer houses and taverns of two worlds, snobbishly commenting on the general poor quality of both.

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Add Comment
JRMarch 23, 2019 10:04 PM UTC

James,

do you know just from the holes in the diary entries, and

oblique references to incidents such as the sailor Robyn,

that items were being cut out, censored, expurgated? Or

do you have the original—well, that was probably in Dutch as you

mentioned translations—to see what was being cut out?

I wonder what happened to Robyn—probably absurd to wonder, one man out of millions who met unfortunate fates back then.
responds:March 26, 2019 4:03 PM UTC

The editing of these texts occurred between 1865 and 1913 and seemed to be concerned with fostering the image of the Exploitive Plantations as Evangelical Colonies, for which there were kernels of truth such as in New England and Roanoke.

This seems to be old conservative myth building at work here, not modern PC censorship, which, thus far, has taken the form of me being denied access to Sate University libraries and I predict will eventually find expression as digital redaction. Modern leftists do not yet understand that primary sources challenge their racial narrative. That is why I am working so hard finishing the Plantation America series against that day.