Slavery [Electronic resources] نسخه متنی

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Saeed Ahktar Rizvi

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Hypocricy Of The Abolitionists

If anybody wishfully thinks that the main cause of the abolition of slavery was moral
and ethical development, he would be well-advised to look at the attitude of abolitionists
within the frame work of their economic aims.

Thus we see that the same West Indian interest holders who before the previously
mentioned distress were the ardent supporters of slave-trade now became enthusiastic
"humanists". Dr. Williams says, "Ironically enough, it was the former slave
owners of the West Indies who now held the humanitarian torch. Those who, in 1807, were
lugubriously prophesying that abolition of the British slave-trade would 'occasion
diminished commerce, diminished revenue and diminished navigation; and in the end sap and
totally remove the great cornerstone of British prosperity,' were, after 1807, the very
men who protested against 'a system of man-stealing against a poor and inoffensive
people."' The West India interest in 1830 put a resolution "to adopt more
decisive stop the foreign slave-trade; on the effectual
suppression of which the prosperity of the British West Indian colonies... ultimately
depends. Jamaican envoys, sent to Britain in 1823, declared that 'the colonies were
easily reconciled to the abolition of a barbarous commerce, which the advanced
civilization of the age no longer permitted to exist' ...A great mass movement for
abolition of the slave-trade developed in Jamaica in 1849. Auj claplo, parties and sects
were united on the question of justice to Africa. They denounced the slave-trade and
slavery as 'opposed to humanity - productive of the worst evils to Africa - degrading to
all engaged in the traffic, and inimical to the moral and spiritual interests of the
enslaved,' and pleaded that 'the odious term "slave" be expunged from the
vocabulary of universe. SLAVERY MUST FALL, and, when it falls, JAMAICA WILL FLOURISH.' England,
they declared pointedly, had gone to wars for less justifiable causes."href="#r11">

And what was the worth of all such high-sounding phrases may be judged from the fact
that the British capitalism, even after destroying West Indian slavery, "continued to
thrive on Brazilian, Cuban and American slavery." So, in the words of Professor
Brogan, "we get the paradoxes of the reversal of roles. It was all very well for the
abolitionists to deplore the use of slave-produced sugar in the West Indies, but no one
proposed to stop the use of the slave-produced cotton from the United States. Indeed, no
one proposed seriously to stop the use of the slave-produced sugar from Brazil or Cuba.
Money not passion, passion of wickedness or goodness, spun the plot".

Dr. Williams writes, "After India, Brazil and Cuba, by no stretch of imagination
could any humanitarian justify any proposal calculated to revet the chains of slavery
still more firmly on the Negroes of Brazil and Cuba. That was precisely what free trade in
sugar meant. For after 1807 the British West Indians were denied the slave-trade and after
1833 slave labour. If the abolitionists had recommended Indian sugar, incorrectly, on the
humanitarian principle that it was free-grown, it was their duty to their principles and
their religion to boycott the slave-grown sugar of Brazil and Cuba. In falling to do this
it is not to be inferred that they were wrong, but it is undeniable that their failure to
adopt such a course completely destroys the humanitarian argument. The abolitionists,
after 1833, continued to oppose the West Indian planter who now employed free labour.
Where, before 1833, they had boycotted the British slave-owner, after 1833 they espoused
the cause of the Brazilian slave-owner."

"The barbarous removal of the Negroes from Africa continued for at least twenty
five years after 1833, to the sugar plantations of Brazil and Cuba. Brazilian and Cuban
economy depended on the slave-trade. Consistency alone demanded that the British
abolitionists oppose this trade. But that would retard Brazilian and Cuban development and
consequently hamper British trade. The desire for cheap sugar after 1833 overcame all
abhorrence of slavery. Gone was the horror which once was excited at the idea of a British
West Indian slave-driver armed with whip; the Cuban slave-driver armed with a whip,
cutlass, dagger and pistols, and followed by bloodhounds, aroused not even comment from
the abolitionists."

Thus it is clear that the real reasons of the British humanitarianism was not so much
moral uprightness or ethical awakening but the economic pressure and to harm their
business competitors. In the words of Professor Brogan, the lesson of Capitalism and
Slavery is chilling if not new:

"Where your treasure is there will your heart be also."

. Ibid, p. 175-6.

. Ibid, p. 188.

. Ibid, p. 192.

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