Frontline Confidential: Investigating White Slavery

Talk Friday 29th June, 2007

Don Jordan and Mike Walsh talk about investigating the forgotten story of thousands of white Britons who lived and died in bondage in Britain’s American Colonies.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries hundreds of thousands of people became slaves, in all but name, in the American colonies.  Urchins were collected from London’s streets to work in the tobacco fields, and brothels were raided to provide ‘breeders’ for Virginia. 

Migrants, hopeful of finding a new, better life, would be duped into signing as servants. Not until they arrived did they become aware of the awful truth, that they could be bought, gambled away, and sold – paraded for sale like livestock.

Don Jordan and Michael Walsh, authors of White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America, investigate this forgotten episode in the annals of slavery, intricately piecing together history drawn from letters, diaries and court and government archives.

Don Jordan is a television producer and director who has worked on dozens of documentaries and dramas.  He also co-produced and co-wrote Love is the Devil, a film about the life of Francis Bacon.

Michael Walsh spent 12 years as a reporter and presenter on World in Action, and has won six awards for his work.  He is now a producer, specialising in political and historical documentaries.

The event is organised in association with the Centre for Investigative Journalism.