British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

48
REPORT OF THE SIERRA LEONE COMPANY 19 October 17911

. . .It was the object of one particular head of instruction [to the Superintendent and Council at Sierra Leone] to secure to all blacks and people of colour living at Sierra Leone equal rights and privileges, as well as equal treatment in all respects with white persons. The right of trial by jury will be communicated to them in common with others, and the Council are desired to allot to any black people employments suited to their present abilities, and to afford them every opportunity of cultivating such natural talents as may appear among them; at the same time all practicable means are directed to be used for the maintenance of subordination in the colony; and the attention of the Council is particularly directed to the promotion of religion, and good morals, by the regular support of public worship, the due observance of the Christian Sabbath, and also the general instruction of the people, and the education of children. It is also an instruction to the Council, that no person is to be prevented from performing or attending religious worship in whatever place, time, or manner he thinks fit; or from peaceably inculcating his own religious opinions. . . .

[Profits will be inconsiderable for several years, but may thereafter be reasonably substantial.]

It must appear from the general account given that the Directors are endeavouring in the outset rather to lay the foundation of happiness to Africa and of future prosperity to the Company, than to grasp at any premature advantages. . . . 2


Postscript.3

. . . The number, already great, is daily increasing, of those who feel for the wrongs of Africa, and are eager to discover some mode of compensating to her for the injuries she has so long been sustaining at our hands.--Whatever may have been unjustly urged against any other measure that has been brought forward under this impression, no one can object to the undertaking of the Sierra Leone Company. Even considered in relation to the abolition of the slave trade, its

____________________
1
Substance of the Report of the Court of Directors of the Sierra Leone Company to the General Court, I7 91), Lond. 1792, pp. 23-24, 33. In the Report of 1794 the Directors still complained that they had not received express powers from Parliament for administering the government, but had considered, as they were bound to do, that the British Constitution as far as it was applicable was of course transferred thither, and that blacks and whites had 'equal rights to the privileges of British subjects'.
2
'I should not chuse to permit anyone to become a purchaser', wrote Clarkson to Wedgwood, 'who would not be better pleased with the good resulting to Africa than from great commercial profits to himself.'
3
3 January 1792.

-462-

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