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"Slave owner Sir Thomas Picton" Topic

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Au pas de Charge Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2022 5:52 p.m. PST

A portrait of slave owner Sir Thomas Picton has been put back on display, albeit boxed up-and alongside new artworks and information that "reframes" his place in history.

From Here:


I do so love a comeback story.

MarbotsChasseurs01 Aug 2022 6:18 p.m. PST

As much as I am glad they are giving context to the portrait and hopefully allowing General Piction to be viewed by many generations to come, this is not what will help change the issues we face with our past.

I teach history at an all-black inner city school in Richmond, Virginia, no more than a mile away from the Lee Statue that was taken down recently. Taking down statues and portraits of historical figures whose past was not appropriate compared to our modern values is not the answer to what will help my students have a better life. Money should focus on providing reading coaches, tutors, and mentors. Most students lack basic reading, writing, and studies skills and have almost no parental guidance. I would say at least half my students have one parent, and many do not have any parents at all.

I am glad that people want to be more polite about statues and portraits, but the reality is my students need more hands-on help as they sadly probably never will visit a museum to view portraits of men who owned slaves, nor do they care that much.

Apologize for adding my two cents!


Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2022 8:05 p.m. PST


Good points and well said.
It is so easy just to virtue signal and then
walk away.

Michman02 Aug 2022 1:09 a.m. PST

Interesting to me is that Lord Picton was sacked, ordered home and successfully prosecuted for maltreatment of the Trinidadians. He won an appeal on a technicality regarding jurisdiction.

The 14-year old "girl" (then she was of legal age to marry, etc.) was not a slave, and not tortured personally by Lord Picton. The girl was free and a suspect in a GBP 500 (today GBP 50,000 by purchasing power) theft – then a capital offense. The use of an Army stress-position torture was requested by the prosecutor and Lord Picton granted the request.

If we are to be more inclusive, and study the history of Britain from the perspective of Trinidad, it might be well to note that Lord Picton's governorship was a cause celebré for reform among leading British Whig politicians and a goodly number of British people.

The whole affair caused quite a strong public reaction in England in favor of the Trinidadians, leading to criminal charges against Lord Piction. Lurid pamphlets circulated, with illustrations such as ….

And this last actually mattered, because Britain did have enough democracy in 1800 to have an opposition party and to occasionally seek the consent of the governed. Compare France, Russia, Austria, Spain ….. well, just about everywhere except Britain's own former colonies in North America.

While "using tattooing to kind of bring people together to share this connected story" is I am sure necessary to understand the history of Britain, it might have been useful to also tell the actual history of Lord Picton and Luisa Calderon.

See : link

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2022 2:34 a.m. PST

Michael, I couldn't agree more with you.

I work in an affluent area about thirty miles from Richmond. Once a semester I teach for Driver's Ed. One of the schools I teach is from the good part of town, the other the poor part. I've been teaching the class for 10 years.

The good school has a principal that believes in 'progressive' teaching. He's Dr. and has never taught a class. The school has gone way down hill since he took over. Students are disruptive, some come in with blankets and go to sleep, test scores are low, teachers are demoralized, but the students did walk out to protest during the BLM riots.

The other school got an old school teacher that worked her way up to principal. She believes in discipline and demands the best of her students. Test scores are up, the kids are respectful and pay attention, and she kicks the trouble makers out.

The kids need help and a firm hand, not political indoctrination. I'm sure its much harder where you're at.

arthur181502 Aug 2022 3:21 a.m. PST

If no one else wants that painting of Sir Thomas Picton, I would gladly display it in my home!

It would go well with two early nineteenth century aquatints in my collection, depicting him at the storming of Badajoz and his death at Waterloo.

He made an error of judgement in permitting the picketing of Luisa Calderon, and was perhaps denied further honours in relation to his later military career because of it. But he still did his country excellent service in command of the Third Division in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, and deserves to be remembered for that, too.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2022 3:55 a.m. PST

Well said arthur1815.

Nine pound round02 Aug 2022 6:34 a.m. PST

"In Lieut. General Sir Thomas Picton His Majesty has sustained the loss of an officer who has frequently distinguished himself in his service; and he fell gloriously leading his division to a charge with bayonets, by which one of the most serious attacks made by the enemy on our position was repulsed."

Piston was never ennobled, possibly because the shadow of his decision in Trinidad hung over him. But certainly he deserves a few good words, and the epitaph above, from the Waterloo Dispatch, seems to me to do him justice.

After all, if we really want to examine in full the less pleasant aspects of public figures' lives, we might find ourselves knocking some of today's secular saints right off their pedestals- by the standards of their times, or our own.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2022 7:07 p.m. PST

Who's this "Lord Picton?" It was notable in 1814 that Tom Picton was the highest-ranking and most successful of Wellington's officers NOT to wind up with a title. Might have been connected to the Trinidad business. Might not have been.

No one's mentioning that Picton's actions were legal in that colony at that time, and that the accused immediately told the authorities where the loot was buried. Not how we'd do things here and now, but I've known more "inclusive" people to do things I'd regard as worse.

Let's see what happens to their statues in a century or so.

42flanker03 Aug 2022 10:14 a.m. PST

To what extent, I wonder, did Picton's contemporaries object to the flogging of troops under his command, or to what was stated to be a vehement dislike of the Irish.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2022 12:55 p.m. PST

It would be interesting to know what people in 200 years' will make of US agencies kidnapping, waterboarding and incarcerating miscellaneous Arabs, or having them chopped to pieces by bladed missiles without a trial, following 9/11.

Before posing and virtue signalling about things people in other countries legally did 200 years ago, it's advisable to reflect on what your own country has been up to within the last 20, and to locate your outrage about that. Failure to make a commensurate fuss just makes you look like a posturing, vacuous moral Lilliputian.

MarbotsChasseurs03 Aug 2022 1:25 p.m. PST

4th Cuirassiers,

It depends on what new station you will listen to in the future. The far left is outraged, and the far right is happy USA is safe by any means.

Having a wife from another country has helped me learn a new perspective on how the rest of the world views the United States.

No one is a saint and judging people who lived in a completely different society than we live in today is unfair without having a decent amount of background knowledge about the economic and social ways of life in the 1800s.


Michman03 Aug 2022 2:15 p.m. PST

"NOT to wind up with a title."

Sorry ….. please forgive a foriegner – I thought Sir = Baronet = "Lord".
My mistake.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2022 5:17 p.m. PST

Sorry, Michman. I try to check, but you've got no country listed.

"Lord" in the UK was limited to barons and up and the sons of dukes--very, very rare because of primogeniture. The Duke of Marlborough has multiple sons. Only the eldest gets to be the Marquess of Blandford--a "courtesy title"--and will eventually become Duke of Marlborough in his turn. Second-born son becomes, say, Lord Randolph Churchill, and HIS son is just Winston Churchill unless he's knighted for some accomplishment.

Baronets get a hereditary "Sir" for the eldest son in his turn, but a baronet is not a peer, and got no seat in the House of Lords. If he wanted a seat in Parliament, he'd have to stand for election and take a seat in the Commons. (This is before the end of hereditary seats in the Lords, you understand.)

But most "sirs" are knights, awarded the non-hereditary title as a reward for personal service. This was the case with Thomas Picton, son of an untitled Welsh squire, who was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Bath in early 1815 for his services in the Napoleonic Wars. He'd be "Sir Thomas" for no more than the last six months of his life, and no such honor would pass to his eldest son. On Trinidad, he'd just have been "Colonel (later Brigadier) Thomas Picton."

Oh. And I'm perfectly willing to believe Picton disliked Irish or Catholics or both, but I'm not sure referring to the 88th as the "Connaught Footpads" is evidence. I've heard American units called worse by other American units.

42flanker03 Aug 2022 11:35 p.m. PST

"referring to the 88th as the "Connaught Footpads"

The 'footpads' incident at Pinhel (other versions of the epithet are available) was indeed the basis of the belief that, from their first meeting, Picton bore a deep set prejudice against the "Rangers of Connaught," as he would address them thereafter, if not Irish soldiery at large. Perhaps this belief was as much a counter-prejudice on the part of the 88th.

Michman04 Aug 2022 1:54 a.m. PST

@robert piepenbrink

Thanks for the details.

I am French, more or less.
My mother was English, from Portsmouth, and my father was a merchant ship captain from Brittany. And I have spent most of my life at sea or abroad. So, I have an "intolerable" accent in both French and English !

If you would ever need to sort out a French prince, duc, marquis, comte, vicomte, vidame, baron, chevalier, écuyer, seigneur, châtellen, gentilhomme or noble homme, I would be at your service.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2022 2:56 a.m. PST

@ MarbotsChasseurs

Agree completely. My point really is that someone who spends their days fretting about bad things that happened 200 years ago while having nothing to say about worse things going on right now risks looking like the most vacuous kind of dilettante.

I don't think it's looking good for climate change alarmists either.

Korvessa04 Aug 2022 10:53 a.m. PST

Agree completely. My point really is that someone who spends their days fretting about bad things that happened 200 years ago while having nothing to say about worse things going on right now risks looking like the most vacuous kind of dilettante.

I don't think it's looking good for climate change alarmists either.

Well said. I hate it when people judge the past by standards of today

ConnaughtRanger04 Aug 2022 11:21 a.m. PST

I look forward to my next visit to the splendid Capital of the United States of America and the plethora of amended road signs directing me to "Slave Owner Washington".

Gazzola06 Aug 2022 2:06 p.m. PST

Yep, the British weren't the only money making from slavery nation.

dibble06 Aug 2022 11:47 p.m. PST

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