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blackbirding

[blak-bur-ding] /ˈblækˌbɜr dɪŋ/
noun
1.
(formerly) the act or practice of kidnapping persons, especially Kanakas, and selling them abroad as slaves.
Origin
1870-1875
1870-75; blackbird + -ing1

blackbird

[blak-burd] /ˈblækˌbɜrd/
noun
1.
a common European thrush, Turdus merula, the male of which is black with a yellow bill.
2.
any of several American birds of the family Icteridae, having black plumage.
3.
any of several other unrelated birds having black plumage in either or both sexes.
4.
(formerly) a person, especially a Kanaka, who was kidnapped and sold abroad, usually in Australia, as a slave.
verb (used with object)
5.
to kidnap (a person), as in blackbirding.
verb (used without object)
6.
to engage in blackbirding.
Origin
1480-90; earlier blacke bride. See black, bird
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for blackbirding

blackbird

/ˈblækˌbɜːd/
noun
1.
a common European thrush, Turdus merula, in which the male has a black plumage and yellow bill and the female is brown
2.
any of various American orioles having a dark plumage, esp any of the genus Agelaius
3.
(history) a person, esp a South Sea Islander, who was kidnapped and sold as a slave, esp in Australia
verb
4.
(transitive) (formerly) to kidnap and sell into slavery
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for blackbirding

blackbird

n.

late 15c. (late 13c. as a surname), from black (adj.) + bird (n.1). OED says so called for being the only "black" (really dark brown) bird among the songbirds, reflecting an older sense of bird that did not include rooks, crows, ravens.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for blackbirding

the 19th- and early 20th-century practice of enslaving (often by force and deception) South Pacific islanders on the cotton and sugar plantations of Queensland, Australia (as well as those of the Fiji and Samoan islands). The kidnapped islanders were known collectively as Kanakas (see Kanaka). Blackbirding was especially prevalent between 1847 and 1904. The Queensland government's first attempt to control it came only in 1868 with the Polynesian Labourers Act, which provided for the regulation of the treatment of Kanaka labourers-who theoretically worked of their own free will for a specified period-and the licensing of "recruiters." Because the Queensland government lacked constitutional power outside its own borders, the regulations could not be enforced; moreover, the fact that notorious and brutal blackbirders were able to retain their licenses seemed to indicate that the government was not seriously trying to end the practice. British government acts of the 1870s-especially the 1872 Pacific Islanders Protection Act (the Kidnapping Act)-provided for agents on British recruiting vessels, stricter licensing procedures, and patrol of British-controlled islands; these measures reduced the incidence of blackbirding by British subjects. Because of the continuing heavy demand for labour in Queensland, however, the practice continued to flourish. Blackbirding died out only in 1904 as a result of a law, enacted in 1901 by the Australian commonwealth, calling for the deportation of all Kanakas after 1906.

Learn more about blackbirding with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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