British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

been forfeited by us since our establishment in this colony. Our loyalty to Your Majesty, and long-tried attachment to the mother country, are indisputable; and, preserving these unimpeached and unimpaired, we claim the full enjoyment of all the liberties, franchises, and immunities of free denizens, in perfect equality with those who reside more immediately under the royal protection. For the Parliament of Great Britain we entertain all due respect and veneration; but we presume to think that to receive complaints and hear grievances is a great part of their duty, and to redress and obviate them, their chief glory. . . .1


6
EDMUND BURKE TO HENRY DUNDAS 16 April 17922

Beaconsfield, Easter-Monday night, 1792.

DEAR SIR,

I should have been punctual in sending you the sketch I promised of my old African Code,3 if some friends from London had not come in upon me last Saturday, and engaged me till noon this day: I send this packet by one of them who is still here. If what I send be, as under present circumstances it must be, imperfect, you will excuse it, as being done near twelve years ago. . . .

If the African trade could be considered with regard to itself only, and as a single object, I should think the utter abolition to be on the whole more advisable than any scheme of regulation and reform. Rather than suffer it to continue as it is, I heartily wish it at an end. What has been lately done has been done by a popular spirit, which seldom calls for, and indeed very rarely relishes, a system made up of

____________________
1
A further series of resolutions was passed in a similar vein on 23 November 1792 against the renewal of the claim of the British Parliament to tax and to legislate for the colonies. The later comment of Lord Goderich ( 5 February 1833) to Lord Mulgrave is not inappropriate as a characteristic indication of imperial thinking in this period on the need for a flexible interpretation of the 'image and transcript' of Westminster. 'The analogy derived from the law and usages of Parliament,' he said, 'must in this as in many other cases be employed with great circumspection in the British colonies. The constitution of Great Britain and Jamaica cannot be reduced to a precise parallelism.' 'Large space' must be left 'for yielding to the pressure of local peculiarities' (C.O. 137/188).
2
E. Burke, Works, Boston 1881, vol. vi, pp. 257-61. Edmund Burke had been private secretary to Lord Rockingham, the chief protagonist for the conciliation of the American colonists and the leading manager of the impeachment of Warren Hastings. He had supported the motion against the slave trade in 1788 and 1789.
3
Burke Sketch of a Negro Code itself is printed in F. Klingberg, The Anti- Slavery Movement in England, New Haven 1926, pp. 322 ff. The preamble states the expediency of putting 'an end to all traffic in the persons of men and to the detention of their said persons in a state of slavery', and provides for the protection, supervision, and care of slaves because it is 'not fitting that they should be under the sole guardianship of their masters': many of his proposals are similar to those of the ameliorationists in the 1820's.

-536-

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