Slavery and Revolution


Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, 24 December 1789

By Admms |

As well as commenting on the rising abolition movement, Taylor expressed his views on other subjects. His thoughts on the early months of the French Revolution, penned on Christmas Eve, 1789, reveal his antipathy for the French, but also his admiration for a ‘free constitution’ and distaste for what he saw as the anarchical threat of mob rule. Revolution, thought Taylor, was also in the offing in Spanish America. At the same time as the abolition debate was getting underway in parliament, Warren Hastings, was being impeached by the House of Lords for corruption and misrule in India, and Taylor’s comments on the case reveal his sympathy for Hastings, the former governor-general of Bengal.

[…] The situation of the King of France is very awkward indeed, and they seem to me to be all mad together, and I am much afraid that the licensiousness [sic] of the mobb may make every sensible man join in to oppose them & by that means they may lose a free constitution altogether neither can I suppose that the Emperor, or the King of Spain will sitt still, & see their relations treated in such an indignant manner. But it is no more than what he deserved. He had no business to interfere with us in America. If I am not deceived there will be very soon the devil to pay in the Spanish West Indies. The Spaniards who come over to the northside with cattle and wood begin to talk bigg, and that in a short time they will be as free as the English, if they talk in this manner in the islands, I should think that they will do the same on the continent, where their numbers are so much greater. I cannot say but that I wish the parliament may be dissolved, I think there never was a man more ill used than Mr Hastings bas been, for I really have not been able to see any one thing yett proved, there has been nothing but froth and smoke, but no fire. […]

(Vanneck-Arc/3A/1789/29, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, Kingston, 24 December 1789)