Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The practice of kidnapping Pacific Islanders, or kanakas, for sale as cheap labour.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The kidnaping of negroes or Polynesians to be sold as slaves.
  • n. The act or practice of collecting natives of the islands near Queensland for service on the Queensland sugar plantations.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The kidnapping of negroes or Polynesians to be sold into slavery.
  • Engaged in the kidnapping of negroes or Polynesians to be sold as slaves: as, a blackbirding crew.

Etymologies

From blackbird +‎ -ing, suggestedly from the putative slang blackbird ("indigenous Pacific islander"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I had had some experience in blackbirding before I went pearling in the Paumotus.

    South Sea Tales: The Heathen(DL SunSITE)

  • They made little progress at first, because "blackbirding" -- the often brutal recruitment of laborers for the sugar plantations in Queensland and Fiji -- led to a series of reprisals and massacres.

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  • "Following the importation of workers from the Pacific islands in the late 1800s, often known as 'blackbirding', successive Australian Governments have repeatedly rejected calls to allow any form of unskilled labour immigration," he said.

    UQ News Online

  • "blackbirding" vessels, saying that he would like me to come and stay with him.

    The Call Of The South 1908

  • There is wild talk of cannon aboard, and of strange raids and expeditions she may make, ranging from opium smuggling into the States and arms smuggling into China, to blackbirding and open piracy.

    Chapter 11

  • I sailed in the teak-built ketch, the Minota, on a blackbirding cruise to Malaita, and I took my wife along.

    JERRY OF THE ISLANDS

  • Bassett combats fever, dreaming of reaching the beach and some blackbirding schooner.

    “It was the Golden Fleece ready for the shearing.”

  • At age seven he was kidnapped by bushmen and became a slave in Malaita's bush villages, then when he was seventeen was turned over to a blackbirding gang for a half case of tobacco, some knives, axes, calico and beads, and taken aboard a schooner to toil three years on the plantations of the Moongleam Soap Co. on New Georgia, clearing jungle and cutting cane grass.

    “Some day, all the fools will be dead....”

  • Woodward's story is of the time twenty years past when he was a mate on the big 150-ton blackbirding schooner Duchess out of Apia.

    “Some day, all the fools will be dead....”

  • “A butcher by trade, but also believed to have numerous dealings with the Irish blackbirding gangs of Five Points.”

    City of Glory

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Comments

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  • "...the prejudice exists among international relief workers in Mekele that missing men have been blackbirded for resettlement, and so strong is this impression that they will not take the obvious step of approaching party officials and requesting information. Resettlement is mentioned in hushed tones, with knowing nods."
    - 'Resetlement, Ethiopia, 1985', Germaine Greer in The Madwoman's Underclothes.

    September 1, 2008