Slavery and Revolution


Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, 26 November 1781

By Admms |

By the end of November 1781, news of the British capitulation at Yorktown had reached Jamaica. In Taylor’s formulation, the failure of British forces in America, combined with the new high duties on sugar, amounted to a catastrophe for Jamaican planters.

This war with the whole world must and will involve Britain and her dependencies in everlasting ruin, you will before this reaches you have heard of the dreadful catastrophy that has befalled Cornwallis’s army and in all probability the Americans will in a few weeks retake all North and South Carolina and we have not force to oppose them, things are come to the most dreadfull crisis and I do not see what can be done but to make a peace on what terms the enemy will give us. Our navy that used to be our bulwark does nothing the captains wholy intent on prize money neglect every thing, the old and experienced officers are all disgusted and retired from the service and every day brings up some new calamity, at the same time we are so over loaded with taxes that even a peace will bring us but little relief. The late high tax on sugar will in time of peace act as a prohibition of sending home that article and if the drawback is taken off on refined sugar exported they had better give us away at once to any nation that will take us.

(Vanneck-Arc/3A/1781/28, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, Kingston, 26 November 1781)