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PREFACE Caribbean Slave Revolts and the British Abolitionist Movement studies the British antislavery movement and the major nineteenth-century slave revolts in the English colonies, particularly those in Barbados (1816), Demerara (1823), and Jamaica (1831–1832). It examines the links that abolitionist discourse established between British antislavery and slave revolts in the colonies. A study of this nature bears on the long-standing historical debate concerning the primacy of various agencies in achieving slave emancipation.1 Although this book focuses on British abolitionists’ commentary on West Indian slave revolts, it does not seek to overthrow other explanations that historians have advanced to explain abolition. Factors such as the growth of public support and agitation in Britain against slavery ; political reform in the British Parliament; the planters’ recalcitrance about slavery amelioration; persecution of sectarian missionaries in the colonies; the financial difficulties facing the West Indian planters as a result of duties paid on sugar exported to Britain; hurricanes in the colonies and soil exhaustion, among other hardships; as well as the culminating effects of slave revolts all contributed to the dismantling of the servile regime. Principles of humanity, justice, and Christianity, as well as economic , political, and social developments in Britain and in the colonies impacted the attack on British West Indian slavery. However, while these factors feature prominently in discussions of British abolitionism, the slave-revolt theme is conspicuously absent. This book rescues slave rebellion from its obscurity in historical accounts of the British antislavery struggle. It seeks to broaden the circumference of the British antislavery ix 1. This debate has emerged from the works of Reginald Coupland, Frank Klingberg, G. R. Mellor, Seymour Drescher, Roger Anstey, C. L. R. James, Eric Williams, Richard Hart, Hilary Beckles, and James Walvin, among other historians who insist that either religious and humanitarian factors, economic interests, or the self-liberating efforts of the slaves were primary in achieving the abolition of slavery. A more detailed discussion of this debate will be presented in chapter 1. argument without claiming that slave rebellion was more important than any other dimension. Consequently, the book fills a gap left in mainstream narratives on the history of antislavery in Britain by demonstrating that slaves in rebellion commandeered humanitarian attention. Rebels led abolitionists to carve out a narrative best defined as the slave rebellion discourse of British abolitionism. The experiences of the colonized on one side of the Atlantic shaped a significant strand of the discourse of the colonizers on the other side. The most depressed subjects in the slave plantation colonies provided distinguished metropolitan spokesmen with a discourse, which, while hidden from history, ought to be regarded as a dynamic episode in the making of the Atlantic world. Although there exists no other full-scale treatment of the impact of slave rising in the West Indies on the discourse of abolitionists’ thought in Britain, this study is comparable to Hogendorn and Lovejoy’s treatment of the end of slavery in Northern Nigeria.2 x PREFACE 2. Paul Lovejoy and Jan Hogendorn, Slow Death for Slavery: The Course of Abolition in Northern Nigeria, 1897–1936 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). ...


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