On editing Wikipedia

No, I’m not going to write about how the CIA and others have been caught editing Wikipedia; I’m going to talk about my own edits. I’ve recently read Afua Cooper‘s excellent work The Hanging of Angélique, which tells the story of an African slave who was executed for burning down half of Montréal in 1734, with plenty of background on the hidden history of slavery in Canada in general. Every Canadian ought to read this book, especially anyone who’s ever felt smug about the Underground Railroad without realizing that slaves also escaped south from Canada to those parts of the United States which abolished slavery before we finally got around to it in 1834.

Since this book is sadly not likely to make it into high school history curricula and become widely known any time soon, I’ve tried to do my part by spending a few hours updating the Wikipedia pages on Marie-Joseph Angélique, slavery in Canada, and the 1793 Upper Canada Act Against Slavery. Cooper also lists numerous examples of prominent Canadians who owned slaves, and it was tempting to go through their Wikipedia entries and add notes to that effect, although it was not at all uncommon for the upper class of that era. (Examples include Mohawk leader Joseph Brant and Québec nationalist Joseph Papineau.) I couldn’t restrain myself from adding just one, though.

Anyways, some recommended reading for you (Cooper’s book, that is, not my Wikipedia entries).