"Hence, Commerce spreads her sails to a' The Indies and America; Whatever makes a penny twa ,By wind or tide, Is wafted to the Broomielaw, On bonny Clyde!" John Mayne (1759-1836) in Glasgow (1783).
Scotland's role in the slave trade has long been a contentious issue. In modern times, a myth of denial has evolved. It has been almost casually accepted that 'it wisnae us'.This is due to a number of factors, not least a belief in a noble and heroic Scottish past. The popular history of the nation is often taken to be one of subjection, of a Scotland economically and politically subservient to the will of its larger neighbour. William Wallace, regularly lionised as the greatest of all our heroes, has been romanticised as dying in a vain but glorious attempt to free the nation from the English yoke. It is all too easy to see the Scots as victims of oppression rather than as collaborators in the enslavement of nations. There are many unpalatable truths: Scots played a major role in the British Empire as doctors, administrators, lawyers, merchants, financiers and engineers but they were also prominent in trafficking human misery - in the trades in opium and slavery.
This book focuses on the buildings and streets of Glasgow's Merchant City, built on slavery. It reveals who our streets are named after and how they made the money that made our city. An uncomfortable truth of our collective denial of culpability in the trans Atlantic trade in enslaved humans.