The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

14.
Speech by J. W. C. Pennington Delivered at Exeter Hall, London, England 21 June 1843

One day after the London World's Anti-Slavery Convention closed, J. W. C. Pennington joined other convention delegates and observers at the fourth annual meeting of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, which convened at Exeter Hall on the morning of 21 June 1843. The participants included members of British royalty, British religious and political leaders, a few colonial administrators from the West Indies, and a sprinkling of European antislavery activists. The gathering was notable for the "large party of ladies" present, including the duchess of Sutherland and Lady Noel Byron. Several "gentlemen of colour" attended. Meeting chairman Lord Morpeth ( George William Frederick Howard) entered the hall at eleven o'clock and was enthusiastically cheered. During a discussion of the British government's plan to transport African workers to the West Indies, Pennington was greeted by loud applause as he rose to offer a resolution. Pennington's remarks typified the tendency of black abolitionists to turn public discussions on any issue into a forum for considering slavery. The resolution was seconded by Rev. J. H. Hinton, and following its approval, the meeting adjourned. PtL, 3 July 1843.

[Resolved:] That this meeting deeply regrets the sanction given by her Majesty's Government to a scheme of emigration from Africa to the West Indies, 1 as of dangerous tendency, inasmuch as, in their judgment, it is not called for by existing circumstances, and can only be carried into effect at an enormous expense, to be borne chiefly by those whose interests it will seriously affect, for the benefit of the planters and non-resident proprietors, and which is, moreover, open to serious objections, on account of the disparity of the sexes which it allows to be introduced into the colonies; and, inasmuch, also, as it affords a pernicious example to slave-holding states to people their territories and colonies with nominally free, though really enslaved Africans; thus creating a new form of slave- trading, which no treaties can reach and no laws can cure. That this meeting equally regrets the relaxation of the restrictions placed on the export of Indian labourers to Mauritius, 2 which though henceforth subject to Governmental control, is open to most of the objections urged against emigration from Africa to the West Indies, and is obnoxious to the charge of allowing the unlimited importa

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