Link to Home pageLink to GlossaryLink to TimelineLinks to useful websitesLink to worksheet Print the sources  
Home > The struggle to end slavery > The pro-slavery argument > Source 2 > Transcript

The pro-slavery argument. Source 2 transcript

It will be admitted that, under any change of system, the continuance of active Cultivation in the Colonies by Europeans is not only of vital importance to the interests of the Mother Country, but indispensably necessary to the desired object of raising the Negro in the scale of society, while, therefore it remains unascertained by actual experiment that the Negro will give continuous labour, and for reasonable wages, as a free man – and while the weight of evidence and experience discourages the expectation of his willingly consenting to do so, - there must be the greatest danger that any hasty change of system, unaccompanied by regulations calculated to ensure the Slaves becoming an industrious peasantry, and to teach them the duties and obligations of civil society would lead to the immediate destruction of the Colonies, and throw the Black Population back into a state of barbarism.

That your Lordship may be enabled to judge of the effect which such a calamity would produce on the interests of Great Britain, as well as of the irresistible impulse it would give to the Slave Trade, in which Foreigners still persist, the Committee beg leave to remind you, that the present annual gross Revenue derived from West Indian Produce is Seven Millions, the value of British Manufactures annually consumed in those Colonies is Four Millions and a half; and the number of Ships employed in the direct trade Nine hundred and fifty – or Two hundred & forty thousand Tons – exclusive of an extensive cross trade constantly maintained between the Colonies and British America. Also that the British Colonies at present supply nearly one half of the total quantity of Sugar imported into Europe.

Simplified version
It will be accepted that continuing cultivation in the Colonies is not only of great importance to the interests of the Mother Country but vital to raising the status of blacks in society. Nobody knows in real life whether a slave will work as hard for wages when he is free but our experience suggests that he will not. There is also a great danger that any sudden change to the system without teaching the slaves to become hard-working members of society would lead to the immediate destruction of the colonies and throw the black population back into a state of barbarism.

So that your Lordship can judge the effect of such a calamity on the interests of Great Britain, as well as lead to an expansion in the foreign slave trade, the Committee asks to remind you that the current revenue derived each year from the West Indies is £7million, the value of British goods used each year in the colonies is £4 1/2 million, and that 950 ships, carrying 240,000 tons are employed directly as a result (this figure does not include the trade between the Colonies and British America). The British Colonies also supply nearly half of all the sugar imported into Europe.


Close window

Home | Glossary | Timeline | Links | Worksheet | Print