Slavery and Revolution


Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, 5 August 1789

By Admms |

By August 1789, Taylor expressed relief that the question of abolishing the slave trade had been stalled by a parliamentary enquiry. He conceded to Arcedeckne that some sorts of regulations to the trade might be acceptable but also began to further stake out his argument that ending the slave trade would lead to the ruin of the British-Caribbean colonies and – ultimately – of Britain itself. Taylor combined this economic argument with his opinion that parliament’s discussion of abolition amounted to a breach of trust towards the colonists of the West Indies.

[…] I see our great question was not decided, and the event was precarious. It has been the maddest piece of work since the crusades and I am very glad to see so many respectable people have taken up the matter, if regulations are made in the mode of purchasing slaves on the coast, so as those regulations do not tend to prohibit the trade, we can have no objection to it, but to abolish it, is ruin to us, and ultimately to them. I see they go on very slowly in their examination of evidence, and I suppose when the House meets on a call, they will putt it off untill the next session. […]

(Vanneck-Arc/3A/1789/23, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, Kingston, 5 August 1789)