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GLADSTONE AND SLAVERY

  • ROLAND QUINAULT (a1)
Abstract

William Gladstone's views on slavery and the slave trade have received little attention from historians, although he spent much of his early years in parliament dealing with issues related to that subject. His stance on slavery echoed that of his father, who was one of the largest slave owners in the British West Indies, and on whom he was dependent for financial support. Gladstone opposed the slave trade but he wanted to improve the condition of the slaves before they were liberated. In 1833, he accepted emancipation because it was accompanied by a period of apprenticeship for the ex-slaves and by financial compensation for the planters. In the 1840s, his defence of the economic interests of the British planters was again evident in his opposition to the foreign slave trade and slave-grown sugar. By the 1850s, however, he believed that the best way to end the slave trade was by persuasion, rather than by force, and that conviction influenced his attitude to the American Civil War and to British colonial policy. As leader of the Liberal party, Gladstone, unlike many of his supporters, showed no enthusiasm for an anti-slavery crusade in Africa. His passionate commitment to liberty for oppressed peoples was seldom evident in his attitude to slavery.

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London Metropolitan University, 166-220 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DBr.quinault@londonmet.ac.uk
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1 Times, 12 Aug. 1837, Gladstone's speech at Manchester, 9 Aug. 1837.

2 Gladstone's memorandum, ‘my earlier political opinions, (II), the extrication’, 16 July 1893, The prime ministers' papers: W. E. Gladstone I: autobiographica, ed. John Brooke and Mary Sorensen (London, 1971), p. 41.

3 Gladstone's speeches, descriptive index and bibliography, ed. A. Tilney Bassett (London, 1916), pp. 6–17.

4 John Morley, The life of William Ewart Gladstone (3 vols., London, 1903), i, p. 24.

5 H. C. G. Matthew, Gladstone, 1809–1874 (Oxford, 1988); H. C. G. Matthew, Gladstone, 1875–1898 (Oxford, 1995); Richard Shannon, Gladstone I 1809–1865 (London, 1982); Richard Shannon, Gladstone: heroic minister, 1865–1898, ii (London, 2000); Roy Jenkins, Gladstone (London, 1996).

6 Gladstone, ed. Peter J. Jagger (London, 1998); Gladstone centenary essays, ed. David Bebbington and Roger Swift (Liverpool, 2000); David Bebbington, The mind of Gladstone: religion, Homer and politics (Oxford, 2004).

7 S. G. Checkland, The Gladstones, a family biography, 1764–1851 (Cambridge, 1971).

8 William Law Mathieson, British slavery and its abolition, 1823–1838 (London, 1926); W. L. Burn, Emancipation and apprenticeship in the British West Indies (London, 1937); William A. Green, British slave emancipation, the sugar colonies and the great experiment, 1830–1865 (Oxford, 1981); J. R. Ward, British West India slavery: the process of amelioration (Oxford, 1988); Hugh Thomas, The slave trade: the history of the Atlantic slave trade, 1440–1870 (London, 1997); Andrew Porter, ed., The Oxford history of the British Empire, iii: The nineteenth century ed. (Oxford, 1999).

9 Eric Williams, Capitalism and slavery (London, 1964).

10 Checkland, Gladstones, pp. 414–15, Appendix ii: ‘The Gladstone fortune’.

11 Ibid., pp. 186–7.

12 John Gladstone, Facts relating to slavery in the West Indies and America, contained in a letter to Sir Robert Peel Bt. (London, 1830).

13 Checkland, Gladstones, p. 263.

14 Matthew, Gladstone, 1809–1874, p. 46.

15 Checkland, Gladstones, p. 416, Appendix ii, ‘The Gladstone fortune’.

16 Ibid., p. 192, W. E. Gladstone to his mother, 5 December 1823.

17 Gladstone's 1830 notebook, London, British Library (BL), Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44812, fos. 11–27.

18 Aristotle, Politics, ed. and translated John Warrington (London, 1959), pp. 9–14. Bebbington, Mind of Gladstone, p. 4.

19 Entry for 21 Oct. 1830, The Gladstone diaries, ed. M. R. D. Foot and H. C. G. Matthew (14 vols., Oxford, 1968–94), i, p. 326.

20 Entry for 15 Mar. 1831, ibid., p. 369.

21 Gladstone's notes on Burnet's History of the Reformation, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44793, fo. 140.

22 Gladstone's notes for his speech on 2 June 1831, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44649, fos. 30–1.

23 A. Patchett Martin, Life and letters of the right honourable Robert Lowe, viscount Sherbrooke (2 vols., London, 1893), i, pp. 16–17.

24 Gladstone, ed. Brooke and Sorensen, i, p. 41.

25 F. W. Hirst, ‘Mr Gladstone as a Tory, 1832–1841’, in Sir Wemyss Reid, ed., The life of William Ewart Gladstone (London, 1899), p. 159.

26 Gladstone's address to the Newark electors, 8 Oct. 1832, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44722, fos. 63–4.

27 Entries for 6 and 10 December 1832, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthew, i, pp. 590–1.

28 Gladstone's Address to the electors of Newark, 6 December 1832, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44722, fos. 87–8; Gladstone, Facts relating to slavery, p. 26.

29 Gladstone, Facts relating to slavery, p. 14.

30 Gladstone's address to the Newark electors, 8 Oct. 1832, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44722, fos. 63–4.

31 Shannon, Gladstone: 1809–1865, pp. 4–5.

32 Entry for 31 July 1832, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, i, p. 565.

33 Gladstone to the Reverend Fairlie, 15 Oct. 1893, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, xiii, p. 311.

34 Entry for 3 Aug. 1833, ibid., ii, p. 52.

35 Gladstone's speech at Manchester, Times, 12 Aug. 1837.

36 Entry for 13 Feb. 1833, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, ii, p. 10.

37 Entry for 3 June 1833, ibid., p. 33.

38 Gladstone's notes for his speech in the House of Commons, 3 June 1833, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44649, fos. 34–9.

39 Gladstone's speech in the House of Commons, 3 June 1833, John Henry Barrow, The mirror of parliament, 1833 (2 vols., London, 18833), ii, pp. 2079–82.

40 Gladstone, ‘My earlier political opinions, (II), the extrication’, Brooke and Sorensen, eds., Gladstone, p. 41.

41 B. W. Higman, Slave population and economy in Jamaica, 1807–1834 (Cambridge, 1976), pp. 230–2.

42 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 42 (1838), c. 224.

43 Entry for 9 July 1833, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, ii, p. 39.

44 ‘Meeting of gentlemen interested in British Guiana’, 11 July 1833, Flintshire Record Office (FRO), Glynne – Gladstone Papers, 2878–9.

45 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 19 (1833), c. 1241.

46 Checkland, Gladstones, pp. 391, 277.

47 William Gladstone to John Gladstone, 26 Jan. 1835, FRO, Glynne – Gladstone papers, 224.

48 Entry for 16 Sept. 1835, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, ii, p. 195.

49 Checkland, Gladstones, pp. 320–1. For British slave owners and compensation see Draper, Nick, ‘“Possessing slaves”: ownership, compensation and metropolitan society in Britain at the time of emancipation, 1834–1840’, History Workshop Journal, 64 (2007), pp. 74102.

50 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 32 (1836), c. 486.

51 Ibid., cc. 486–8.

52 Select Committee on Negro Apprenticeship in Colonies, Report, Minutes of Evidence, Parliamentary Papers, 1836 (560).

53 Select Committee on Negro Apprenticeship in Colonies, Parliamentary Papers, 1837 (510).

54 Entry for 30 Mar. 1838, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, ii, p. 358.

55 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 42 (1838), cc. 224–56.

56 Entry for 31 Mar. 1838, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, ii, p. 358.

57 Burn, Emancipation and apprenticeship, p. 533 n. 2.

58 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 43 (1838), cc. 114–16.

59 Gladstone's memorandum, 24 May 1838, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44777, fos. 54–7.

60 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 47 (1839), c. 932.

61 Entry for 6 May 1839, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, ii, p. 598.

62 Entry for 30 Aug. 1839, ibid., ii, pp. 623–4.

63 W. E. Gladstone, War in China, speech on 3 March 1856 (London, 1857), p. 12.

64 Checkland, Gladstones, pp. 48–50.

65 Times, 2 June 1840. Entry for 1 June 1840, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, iii, p. 32.

66 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 55 (1840), cc. 101–3.

67 Sir John Gladstone to Robert Peel, 5 and 7 Apr. 1831, FRO, Glynne – Gladstone papers, 303.

68 The first crossing, being the diary of Theophilus Richmond, ship's surgeon aboard the Hesperus, 1837–1838, ed. David Dabydeen, Jonathan Morley, Brinsley Samaroo, Amar Wahab, and Brigid Wells (Coventry, 2007), pp. ix–xxvii.

69 Newspaper cutting from the Sheffield Independent, 15 May 1841, FRO, Gladstone – Glynne papers, 2891.

70 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 58 (1841), cc. 161–2.

71 Ibid., cc. 176–9.

72 Gladstone's memorandum on negotiations with Brazil, Nov. 1841, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44729, fo. 222.

73 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 63 (1842), c. 1193.

74 Entry for 22 Feb. 1843, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, iii, p. 261.

75 John Gladstone to Henry Goulburn MP, 11 June 1844, Times, 14 June 1844, p. 7.

76 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 75 (1844), cc. 958, 1138, 1143.

77 Gladstone's memorandum, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44734. fo. 130.

78 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 63 (1842), c. 1205.

79 Ibid., 73 (1844), cc. 631–2.

80 Select Committee on the Slave Trade, First Report, Parliamentary Papers, 1849 (308), Minutes of the Evidence, p. 14.

81 Select Committee on the Slave Trade, Second Report and Proceedings, Parliamentary Papers, 1849 (410), pp. xi–xxix.

82 Entry for 19 Mar. 1850, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, iv, p. 194.

83 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 109 (1850), cc. 1158.

84 Ibid., cc. 1157–62, 1168–72.

85 Ibid., 125 (1853), cc. 1404–5.

86 BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44722, fo. 148.

87 Gladstone's Address to the electors of Newark, 6 Dec. 1832, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44722, fos. 87–8.

88 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 42 (1838), c. 255.

89 Entry for 15 Oct. 1852, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, iv, p. 461.

90 Entry for 7 May 1853, ibid., p. 524.

91 Gladstone to the duchess of Sutherland, 29 May 1861, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MS 44531, fo. 167.

92 Times, 8 Oct. 1862, Gladstone's speech at Newcastle.

93 Bright to Charles Sumner, 10 Oct. 1862, G. M. Trevelyan, The life of John Bright (London, 1913), p. 320.

94 Keith Robbins, John Bright (London, 1979), p. 164.

95 Gladstone's memorandum, 24 Oct. 1862, in Gladstone and Palmerston, being the correspondence of Lord Palmerston with Mr Gladstone, 1851–1865, ed. Philip Guedalla (London, 1928), pp. 245–7.

96 Gladstone to Newman Hall, 2 Feb. 1863, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44533, fo. 87.

97 Gladstone to Sumner, 5 Nov. 1863, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 44533, fo. 187.

98 Entry for 23 June 1864, Disraeli, Derby and the Conservative party: the political journals of Lord Stanley 1849–1869, ed. John Vincent (Hassocks, 1978), p. 219.

99 Cf. Christine Bolt, The anti-slavery movement and reconstruction, a study in Anglo-American co-operation, 1837–1877 (London, 1969), p. 70.

100 Entry for 1 Dec. 1865, Gladstone diaries, ed. Foot and Matthews, vi, p. 400. Gladstone to Argyll, 1 Dec. 1865, BL, Gladstone papers, Add. MSS 544535, fo. 155.

101 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 216 (1873), c. 951.

102 The Hon. Lionel A. Tollemache, Talks with Mr Gladstone (London, 1903), p. 24.

103 William Gladstone, ‘Kin beyond the sea’, in Gleanings of Past Years (7 vols., London, 1879), i, p. 214.

104 Leslie Bethell, The abolition of the Brazilian slave trade, Britain and the slave trade question, 1807–1869 (Cambridge, 1970), p. 387.

105 Gavin, R. J., ‘The Bartle Frere mission to Zanzibar’, Historical Journal, 5 (1962), pp. 136–41.

106 Gladstone to Lord Granville, 1 Nov. 1872, in The political correspondence of Mr Gladstone and Lord Granville, 1868–1876, ed. Agatha Ramm, Camden third series, 80–1 (2 vols., London, 1952), ii, pp. 357–8.

107 Gladstone to Granville, 7 Nov. 1872, ibid., p. 359.

108 Gavin,‘Bartle Frere mission’, pp. 145–6.

109 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 216 (1873), cc. 943–7.

110 Ibid., 221 (1874), c. 1285.

111 Ibid., 227 (1876), c. 899.

112 W. E. Gladstone, The sclavonic provinces of the Ottoman Empire (London, 1877), p. 11.

113 Gladstone's speech at West Calder, 27 Nov. 1879, in W. E. Gladstone, Political speeches in Scotland, November and December 1879 (London, 1879), p. 117.

114 Gladstone's speech at Ford Pathhead, Times, 24 Mar. 1880, p. 6.

115 W. E. Gladstone, ‘Aggression on Egypt and freedom in the east’, in Gleanings, iv, pp. 345, 359.

116 Times, 8 June 1882, p. 4, and 10 June 1882, p. 9.

117 Gladstone to Arthur Pease MP, 27 Sept. 1882, Times, 10 Oct. 1882, p. 7.

118 Gladstone to Lord Shaftesbury, 22 Nov. 1882, Times, 27 Nov. 1882, p. 4.

119 Gladstone to Granville, 21 Oct. 1883, The political correspondence of Mr Gladstone and Lord Granville 1876–1886, ed. Agatha Ramm (2 vols., Oxford, 1962), ii, p. 90.

120 Gladstone to Granville, 28 Dec. 1883, ibid., p. 141.

121 Entry for 10 Mar. 1884, The diary of Sir Edward Walter Hamilton, 1880–1885, ed. Dudley W. R. Bahlman (2 vols., Oxford, 1972), ii, p. 573.

122 Gladstone to Granville, 11 Mar. 1884, Correspondence of Gladstone and Granville, 1876–1886, ed. Ramm, ii, p. 163.

123 The autobiography of Sir Henry Morton Stanley (London, 1909), p. 419.

124 Shannon, Gladstone: 1865–1898, p. 528.

125 Parliamentary Debates, third series, 78 (1845), c. 469.

126 Ibid., 77 (1845), c. 1306.

127 Ibid., 76 (1844), cc. 922–48.

128 Ibid., 63 (1842) cc. 1193–207.

129 Richardson, David, ‘Agency, ideology and violence in the history of transatlantic slavery’, Historical Journal, 50 (2007), pp. 988–9.

130 W. E. Gladstone, Vaticanism, an answer to reproofs and replies (London, 1875), p. 120.

131 Gladstone, W. E., ‘Memorials of a Southern planter’, The Nineteenth Century, 154 (1889), pp. 984–5.

132 Gladstone's speech at Liverpool, Times, 29 June 1886, p. 11.

133 The Rt Hon. Viscount Simon, ‘The stature of Mr Gladstone’, in Mr Gladstone: Founder's Day Lectures, St Deiniol's Library, 1931 to 1955, ed. Peter J. Jagger (Hawarden, 2001), p. 147. For the Buxton Fountain see, Dresser, Madge, ‘“Set in stone?” statues and slavery in London’, History Workshop Journal, 64 (2007), pp. 185–6.

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