British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

33
WILLIAM NAISH: REASONS FOR USING EAST INDIA SUGAR, 18281

. . . The bounties and protections which the people of England pay to the colonies have alone supported their cruel and destructive system, which must have fallen, if left to itself. These bounties and protections in favour of West India sugar may be estimated at £1,700,000 annually; and it is this large sum paid by the people of this country to the growers of sugar, over and above what that sugar would otherwise cost, which does in fact chiefly maintain the wretched system of colonial bondage. It is calculated that there are in the West Indies about 1,800 sugar plantations, and amongst the proprietors of these, the £1,700,000 is of course divided, making on an average from £900 to £1,000 a year to each slaveholding sugar-planter. The cost of keeping the West Indies, added to the effect of the bounties and protecting duties, imposes on this country a burden of £3,300,000 annually. Lord Sheffield affirms, that the expense of defending the sugar islands by sea alone, during the American War, cost Great Britain more than the fee-simple of those islands is worth.

Whilst we continue these means of support, thus encouraging and rewarding the perpetuation and aggravation of slavery, we set ourselves in direct opposition to the beneficent designs of the Almighty towards these His oppressed creatures. Few circumstances could tend more directly to improve the moral and social state of the West Indies, than the residence of the planters and their families on their own estates. But bounties and protections enable the planters to pay for the waste of property and life occasioned by their own absence and neglect, and by the substituting hired agents. Remove these bounties and protections, and our planters would be compelled like other classes of men to attend to their own concerns.

Let us, individually, bring this great question closely home to our own bosoms. If we purchase the commodity, we participate in the crime. The laws of our country may hold the sugar-cane to our lips, steeped in the blood of our fellow-creatures; but they cannot compel us to accept the loathsome potion. Let us not think the crime rests alone with those who conduct the traffic, or the legislature by which it is protected. The slave-dealer, the slave-holder, and the slave-driver are the agents of the consumer, and may be considered as employed and hired by him to procure the commodity. By holding out the temptation, he is the original cause, the first mover in the horrid

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1
W. Naish, Reasons for using East India Sugar, Lond. 1828, published for the Peckham Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society. Naish wrote several popular pamphlets in the 1820's, including A Short History of the Poor Black Slaves . . . intended to make Little Children in England pity them, Lond. 1825.

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