The History of the Rise, Progress and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, by the British Parliament (1839) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 827 pages of information about The History of the Rise, Progress and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, by the British Parliament (1839).
on the 1st of January, 1800.  His sincerity on this occasion was doubted by Mr. Fox at the very outset; for he immediately rose and said, that “something so mischievous had come out, something so like a foundation had been laid for preserving, not only for years to come, but for anything he knew, for ever, this detestable traffic, that he felt it his duty immediately to deprecate all such delusions upon the country.”  Mr. Pitt, who spoke soon afterwards, in reply to an argument advanced by Mr. Dundas, maintained, that “at whatever period the House should say that the Slave Trade should actually cease, this defence would equally be set up; for it would be just as good an argument in seventy years hence, as it was against the abolition then.”  And these remarks Mr. Dundas verified in a singular manner within this period:  for in the year 1796, when his own bill, as amended in the Commons, was to take place, he was one of the most strenuous opposers of it; and in the year 1799, when in point of consistency it devolved upon him to propose it to the House, in order that the trade might cease on the 1st of January, 1800, (which was the time of his own original choice, or a time unfettered by parliamentary amendment,) he was the chief instrument of throwing out Mr. Wilberforce’s bill, which promised even a longer period to its continuance:  so that it is obvious, that there was no time, within his own limits, when the abolition would have suited him, notwithstanding his profession, “that he had always been a warm advocate for the measure.”

CHAPTER XXXI.

[Sidenote:  Continuation from July 1799 to July 1805.—­Various motions within this period.]

The question had now been brought forward in almost every possible way, and yet had been eventually lost.  The total and immediate abolition had been attempted; and then the gradual.  The gradual again had been tried for the year 1798, then for 1795, and then for 1796, at which period it was decreed, but never allowed to be executed.  An Abolition of a part of the trade, as it related to the supply of foreigners with slaves, was the next measure proposed; and when this failed, the abolition of another part of it, as it related to the making of a certain portion of the coast of Africa sacred to liberty, was attempted; but this failed also.  Mr. Wilberforce therefore thought it prudent, not to press the abolition as a mere annual measure, but to allow members time to digest the eloquence, which had been bestowed upon it for the last five years, and to wait till some new circumstances should favour its introduction.  Accordingly he allowed the years 1800, 1801, 1802, and 1803, to pass over without any further parliamentary notice than the moving for certain papers; during which he took an opportunity of assuring the House, that he had not grown cool in the cause, but that he would agitate it in a future session.

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