British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

26
RESOLUTIONS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS 15 May 18231

Resolved,

That it is expedient to adopt effectual and decisive measures for meliorating the condition of the slave population in His Majesty's colonies.

That through a determined and persevering, but at the same time judicious and temperate enforcement of such measures, this House looks forward to a progressive improvement in the character of the slave population, such as may prepare them for a participation in those civil rights and privileges which are enjoyed by other classes of His Majesty's subjects.

That this House is anxious for the accomplishment of this purpose at the earliest period that shall be compatible with the well being of the slaves themselves, with the safety of the colonies, and with a fair and equitable consideration of the interests of private property.

Ordered, that the said resolution be laid before His Majesty by such Members of this House as are of His Majesty's most honourable Privy Council.


27
BRITISH GUIANA: LORD BATHURST TO GOVERNOR JOHN MURRAY AND LIEUT.- GOVERNOR HENRY BEARD, 28 May 18232

SIR,

I take the earliest opportunity of communicating to you the Resolutions which were unanimously agreed to by the House of Commons

____________________
1
Hansard, vol. ix, 285-6. Printed in Parl. Papers, 1824, vol. xxiv, p. 434. Moved by Canning in reply to Buxton's Resolution of the same date, which declared that slavery was repugnant to Christianity and to the British constitution and ought to be gradually abolished with as much expedition as possible ( Hans., vol. ix, 274). Canning succeeded in shelving the principle of child emancipation (which Buxton's private zeal had stressed) and in giving pride of place to that of amelioration, which was then more in accordance with the general wishes of the so-called abolitionist body. As total emancipation became their objective they began to realize that Canning's tactics had immobilized them-and in time to curse the vague ineffective 'pledge of May 1823'.
2

C.O. 112/5, pp. 171-6. Major-General Murray succeeded Carmichael as Governor of Demerara in 1813. He had previously been Lieut.-Governor of Berbice, where he was succeeded by Henry Beard. A copy of this dispatch was sent to each of the West Indian Governors. In the case of territories enjoying representative institutions the Governor was enjoined 'to recommend similar measures to the consideration of the colonial legislature whenever that body may assemble' (C.O. 29/30). A secret circular of the same date enclosed a Proclamation which should be issued at discretion if the slave population seemed to misunderstand the Resolutions

-560-

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