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Africa During the Scramble: The Blockade

Alex Richards

A crack Papal-Venetian-Dutch Negotiating Team
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
The very interesting question about the French sugar islands in a 1788 abolition would be that you could easily see that creating a partial back-lash then from the West India Lobby's equivalent. Britain certainly wasn't above freeing slaves for temporary military advantage- and I can certainly see them making arrangements to support revolts in Guadeloupe or the like in order to capture the islands- but there'd probably be some absolutely massive fights over questions like 'do we free slaves on islands we've captured or capture them and just enforce a ban on new imports?' 'Is backing Sainte-Dominique just destabilising Jamaica' and the like.

Although thinking about it, the possibility of 'the West India Lobby allying with the likes of Dessalines or Henri Christophe because a stable monarchy that happens to have abolished slavery is better than suggesting the slaves can actually run themselves as a republic' seems both plausible and just about bonkers enough to work out.
 

Thande

Jabs First Brexit
Published by SLP
Excellent article. One point not mentioned here (which I also wasn't aware of before reading Zamoyski's book on the subject) was just how strident Britain was about getting universal abolition of the slave trade passed at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. One can certainly argue that the best justification of national pride that year was not Waterloo but how Castlereagh, otherwise obviously very conservative, insisted on this to the point that the other representatives thought he was some weirdo with a randomly specific cause (shades of the Blackadder election sketch), especially the Spanish representative, the Marquis of Labrador. It is striking to see the gulf of attitudes described, especially when abolition had been such a controversially-fought issue not so many years before in Britain - and perhaps indicative of how much attitudes had diverged from the continent in the years of the Continental System on this as well as other matters such as fashion.
 

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
Sea Lion Press staff
Pronouns
he/him
Excellent article. One point not mentioned here (which I also wasn't aware of before reading Zamoyski's book on the subject) was just how strident Britain was about getting universal abolition of the slave trade passed at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. One can certainly argue that the best justification of national pride that year was not Waterloo but how Castlereagh, otherwise obviously very conservative, insisted on this to the point that the other representatives thought he was some weirdo with a randomly specific cause (shades of the Blackadder election sketch), especially the Spanish representative, the Marquis of Labrador. It is striking to see the gulf of attitudes described, especially when abolition had been such a controversially-fought issue not so many years before in Britain - and perhaps indicative of how much attitudes had diverged from the continent in the years of the Continental System on this as well as other matters such as fashion.
Interesting point. I didn't know that about the extent that was a British priority in the Congress of Vienna, though I certainly knew the importance of it, like I said it's probably the single most successful thing the British did, moreso than the blockade.

Re: Castlereagh being conservative, a lot of the most visible abolitionists were. It's striking with Willberforce in particular that the only two groups of people still calling for it in 1795 were the radical revolutionaries and this one very reactionary mp who hates them. Which is I suppose why it succeeded, because it was genuinely something that had supporters from throughout the political spectrum.

Mind, it is also worth mentioning that universal abolition of the slave trade was also seen as a priority of the slave owners as otherwise they'd be under an economic disadvantage vs their continental rivals. Like I mention in the article the West India lobby quickly pivoted to pushing for the blockade of africa for that reason. Given current times, you can kind of admire the flexibility of thinking, in terms of we lost, what's best for us now.
 
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