A Letter to Thos Fowell Buxton, Esq., M.P. in Refutation of his Allegations Respecting the Decrease of the Slaves in the British West India Colonies.
MCDONNELL Alexander (1833.)
£375.00 [First Edition]
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First edition. 8vo. Recently rebound in period quarter calf over marbled boards, gilt title on a red calf label to spine. Light spotting and toning otherwise a very good copy. 80pp. London, Effingham Wilson,
While the passing of the 1807 Act abolished the slave trade, it did not provide for emancipation in the British colonies, which would not come until 1833. In the interim, there was much debate on how to sustain the highly lucrative sugar industry without being able to rely on the enslavement of new labour. Those with vested interests - both abolitionists and colonists - looked to procreation among the existing population to replenish the work force.
Ragatz encapsulates the debate: "Buxton had compiled statistics purporting to show that there had been a decrease of 52,624 slaves in the sugar islands in little more than decade and declared that the decline had arisen from ill treatment. He was advocating immediate emancipation. McDonnell here challenges his sources." He argues, amongst other things, that Buxton is too generous with his estimates on fertility of the enslaved population. Where Buxton suggests women are fertile between the ages of 10 and 40, McDonnell reckons 18 and 25 is more accurate.
Kress, 28331; Paugh, Katherine, The Politics of Reproduction... Oxford, 2017; Ragatz, p.529.
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