Commentaire composé sur un pamphlet esclavagiste rédigé par Franklyn, propriétaire terrien en Jamaïque, en 1789.
[...] It showed the inside of a slave ship and the way enslaved people would be crammed together. The public outcry led to reforms on the number of slaves a ship could carry, although they went on largely unenforced. Mostly, Franklyn's argument is hugely hypocritical, for the West India Lobby was incredibly powerful. It was actively manipulating legislation and parliamentary debates, as well as attempting to manipulate the general public through pamphlets such as this one. In the mid 1700's, the lobby controlled over 50 MPs. [...]
[...] A first Maroon War had already taken place in Jamaica, and another one was soon to follow in 1795. And of course, in Britain, the abolition campaign seemed to be paving the road to 1807 at full speed. [...]
[...] But mapping the continent was of course of huge colonial interest, and the society's goal of finding the source of the Niger and “the lost golden city of Timbuktu” is uncomfortably reminiscent of conquistadors and El Dorado. In fact, in the next century, Britain used its strive for the suppression of foreign slave trade and slavery to strengthen and expand its empire, forcing nations (mostly in Africa) to sign treaties and using their refusal as a pretext for invasion. Despite whatever truth there is to these arguments, they are a smokescreen, for Franklyn is guilty of exactly what he accuses his adversaries of doing. [...]
[...] His style is carefully crafted to evoke reasonable indignation. He extends numerous laudatory statements towards his mistaken fellow citizens (“people of worth and integrity”, “actuated by the purest principles of humanity and philanthropy”) and even to one of his direct adversaries (“a gentleman I highly revere”). He presents himself as “taking his pen” motivated by the exact same sentiments he identifies in supporters of abolition, making them a favor by exposing their leaders. What Franklyn leaves out is the incredible efforts the disenfranchised displayed for the campaign, clearly acting on what little agency they had of their own volition. [...]
[...] It is a skillfully written accusation of populism on the part of the abolitionists, but proves itself to be a populist accusation. Franklyn's central argument is that a group of rich and powerful men, the abolitionist leaders, manipulated the well-meaning populace (“are they not men who keep their brethren and fellow citizens in a bondage infinitely more strict and severe”). There is truth to this statement, as to even be a part of public life in Great Britain at the time, one had to have both money and status. [...]
Source aux normes APAPour votre bibliographie
Lecture en ligneavec notre liseuse dédiée !
Contenu vérifiépar notre comité de lecture