The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

66. Henry Highland Garnet to Louis Alexis Chamerovzow 2 October 1854
In late 1852, Henry Highland Garnet went to Jamaica as a missionary for the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland and became pastor of the Stirling congregation at Grange Hill. Garnet's initial critical impression of Jamaican laborers led him to publish a June 1853 request for seventy American blacks to immigrate to Jamaica, believing their "goahead" industriousness would insure their success. But Garnet tempered his views as he better understood Jamaican culture. His 2 October letter to Louis Alexis Chamerovzow, secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, revealed Garnet's new understanding. Garnet challenged the society's public position (presented in a pamphlet, in articles in the Anti-Slavery Reporter, and in circulars sent to Parliament) that the decline of West Indian sugar estates resulted from the immorality and indolence of West Indian blacks. Garnet's letter typifies the frequent efforts black abolitionists made to influence British popular opinion after leaving the country. Schor, "Henry Highland Garnet", 125-28; ASRL, 1 July 1854.Stirling, Grange Hill P.O. Jamaica, W[est Indies] Oct[ober] 2, 1854 L. A. Chamerovzow, Esq. My dear Sir,I am in the receipt of your circular dated July 1854, which came to hand some four weeks ago, and I take this occasion to answer the several questions which are contained in it, so far as I am able.
1. The physical condition of the labouring classes in Jamaica is not
inferior to that of any other people with whom I have met, moving in the
same sphere of life and when their limited amount of education and con-
sequently, their limited ideas of the comforts and wants of life, are taken
into account, their condition is much better than one would naturally
expect to see. The present rising generation are physically a fine, healthy
race of people.
2. They are a temperate people and when it is bourne in mind that
Rum-making is one of their most comon employments, I can safely say
that their general sobriety is astonishing. They are orderly, and law-
abiding, and in the rural districts they require less physical force for
their government than is necessary for the same class of people in En-
gland, and Ireland. Proof [is the] withdrawal of the troops, and the
fewness of the Police. When compared with the same class in Europe,

-407-

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