British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

12
RESOLUTION OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS 10 June 18061

That this House, conceiving the African slave trade to be contrary to the principles of justice, humanity and sound policy, will, with all practicable expedition, proceed to take effectual measures for abolishing the said trade, in such manner and at such period as may be deemed advisable.


13
JAMAICA: LORD CASTLEREAGH TO GOVERNOR THE DUKE OF MANCHESTER, 19 January 18082

. . . It is with much concern that His Majesty has observed the tone of the Resolutions which have been lately entered into by the Assembly of Jamaica on the subject of the law for the abolition of the slave trade; but he trusts they may be considered as merely temporary effusions of warmth upon a measure which they consider, however erroneously, destructive to their personal interests and not as deliberate resolutions for their permanent conduct.

In this view of the proceeding of the Assembly it is not wished that any formal notice should be pointedly taken which would make it necessary to enter into further discussion of the legislative right of control and superintendence of the Imperial Parliament in all cases where taxation is not concerned. That superintendence will never be exercised, but in cases conducive to the true liberties of the Island and for the increase of the happiness of all the classes which inhabit it and which are all entitled in their several relations to the protecting care of the mother country. At a time like the present when it is found that by the too great increase of colonial produce the markets of the world are overstocked and the price proportionally reduced, an experiment for putting an end to a traffic attended always with inhumanity and injustice, may be tried with the least possible danger

____________________
1
Parl. Debates, vol. vii, 585. This resolution, echoing those which Wilberforce had moved year after year in vain, was introduced by Fox and passed by a vote of 114 to 15, Castlereagh and Windham voting with the minority. Wilberforce immediately followed the division with a motion for an Address to the King for the negotiation of a joint declaration by the concert of powers in favour of international abolition of the trade. Grenville on 24 June moved the same resolution as Fox's in the Lords. Though even at the last moment there were attempts, on the grounds of expediency, to postpone and avert abolition, the Bill became law in March 1807 (46 Geo. III, sess. i, cap. 36).
2
C.O. 138/43, pp. 340-4. The Duke of Manchester, 'a traditional West India grandee', was Governor of Jamaica from 1808 to 1827. 'Coarse, vulgar, stupid' was Huskisson's estimate of him.

-545-

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