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Edmund Burke and the British Empire in the West IndiesWealth, Power, and Slavery$
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P. J. Marshall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198841203

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198841203.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 June 2021

Abolition, Revolution, and Renewed War

Abolition, Revolution, and Renewed War

(p.202) 8 Abolition, Revolution, and Renewed War
Edmund Burke and the British Empire in the West Indies

P. J. Marshall

Oxford University Press

After 1783 and the presentation of a Quaker petition to Parliament, a highly organized campaign for the immediate abolition of the slave trade gained strong public support. Until 1788, Buke seems to have maintained his preference for the comprehensive reforms over a long period that he had outlined in his Negro Code. In the parliamentary debates from 1788 to 1791, however, he openly sided with immediate abolition. Thereafter, evidently concerned by the extent to which abolition of the slave trade was coming to be identified with other radical reforms, which he deplored, and perhaps concerned at the prospect that revolutionary upheavals in the French West Indies would spread to the British islands, he reverted to being an advocate of gradual reform. He submitted his Code to ministers in 1792 and it was later taken up by those who were looking for an alternative to abolition. By then, the West Indies were taking a lower place than the threat of Revolutionary France in Burke’s calculations. In previous wars he had pressed for British resources to be sent to the West Indies. Now he regarded West Indian campaigns as a diversion from the European war. At the very end of his life, however, the resources of the West Indies helped to relieve his acute financial difficulties. He was awarded a crown pension on funds derived from West Indian duties.

Keywords:   Quakers, petition, abolition, Charles Fox, Wilberforce, slave revolts, St Domingue, Jacobins, pension

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