Fragments of Empire: Capital, Slavery, and Indian Indentured Labor Migration in the British Caribbean 0812234677, 9780812234671

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Fragments of Empire

CRITICAL HISTORIES David Ludden, Series Editor

A complete list of books in the series is available from the publisher.

Fragments of Empire Capital, Slavery, and Indian Indentured Labor Migration in the British Caribbean Madhavi ICale


University of Pennsylvania Press Philadelphia

Copyright 0 1998 University of Pennsylvania Press All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper

Published by Universin of Pennsyh~aniaPress Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4011 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Kale, Madhavi Fragments of empire : capital, slavery, and Indan indentured labor migration to the British Caribbean / Madhavi Kale p. cm. Includes bibliographical records and index. ISBN 978-0-8122-3467-1(alk. paper) z. Indentured servants-IndaI. Indentured semants-Caribbean Area-History, History. 3. Labor supply-Caribbean Area-History. 4. Slave labor-Caribbean AreaHistory. 5 . India-emigration and immigration-History. I. Title. 98.27820



Introduction: Casting Empire I. Very

Particularly Situated

z. Capitalists in the Neighborhood 3. Just a Minute 4. Where Are These Records? 5. The "Saints" Come Marching In

6. Projecting Identities

7 . Casting Labor in the Imperial Mold

Postscript Notes Bibliography Index Acknowledgments

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Introduction Casting Empire

Tonally the individual voice is a dialect; it shapes its own accent, its own vocabulary and melody in defiance of an imperial concept of language, the language of Ozymandias, libraries and dictionaries, law courts and critics, and churches, universities, political dogma, the diction of institutions. -Derek Walcott, The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory BETWEEN1837, WHEN THE FIRST indentured migrants from India landed in British Guiana and were despatched to a handful of sugar plantations in the colony, and 1917, when the state-supervised system of indentured migration was suspended by the InQan and imperial governments, approximately 430,000 men and women from India migrated under indenture to the British Caribbean, where they worked as laborers, primarily on sugar plantations. Less well known outside the Caribbean, and much less extensive than the massive forced migration that brought several million enslaved Africans to the same shores, Indian indentured migration has had an enormous impact on the region's economies, populations, and cultures. When Derek Walcott accepted the Nobel Prize in Literature in December 1992, he began by recalling the Trinidadian village of Felicity, where he had once seen a festival performance of the Ramleela, "the epic dramatization of the Hindu epic the Ramayana." Implicitly acknowledging that he opened with this image in order to disturb those that he presumed manv in his Stockholm audience had of the Caribbean, its history and culture, Walcott went on to reflect on the impoverishing complicities that separated him and others in the Caribbean from the village children who performed the epic roles of warriors, princes, and gods. "They believed in what they were playing, in the sacredness of the text, the valiQty of India," he said,



while I, out of the writer's habit, searched for some sense of elegy, of loss, even of degenerative mimicry in the happy faces of the boy-warriors or the heraldic profiles of the village princes. I was polluting the afternoon with doubt and with the patronage of admiration. I misread the event through a visual echo of Historythe cane fields, indenture, the evocation of vanished armies, temples, and trumpeting elephants-when all around me there was quite the opposite: elation, delight in the boys' screams, in the sweets-stalls, in more and more costumed characters appearing; a delight of conviction, not loss.' Walcott's speech went on to reject the authority of this History: the weight and volume of travelers' comparisons and critics' judgments that have cast Caribbean/colonial pasts, peoples, and their multiple memories and performances as inadequate rehearsals, ill-assembled fragments and echoes of epic tales properly played on other, distant stages. However, while he was rejecting its authority to name him and the Antilles, Walcott reminded his audience that History had nonetheless marked the Caribbean with its progress through time and across continents. "It is there in Antillean geography, in the vegetation itself. The sea sighs with the drowned from the Middle Passage, the butchery of its aborigines, Carib and Aruac and Taino, bleeds in the scarlet of the immortelle, and even the actions of surf on sand cannot erase the African memory, or the lances of cane as a green prison where indentured Asians, the ancestors of Felicity, are still serving time." Walcott's speech draws out the perplexing, even anguishing tensions animating his view of the Antilles, a view disciplined by History but also captivated, disconcerted, and chastened by the festivity and anticipation witnessed in the celebration and performance of an ancient epic. Slipping from prosaic, material images associated with historical dpnamics that brought to Felicity the Ramleela and its celebrants (cane fields, indenture), to lush, heroic, romantic ones associated with India of timeout-of-memory, to, finally, those communicating the happy chaos of the annual reenactment he had witnessed, Walcott suggests that the dsciplined apprehensions and gaze he brought to Felicity are inadequate and impoverishing to an understanding not only of those particulars but also of the Antilles generally. This uneasy habitation of History's disciplinary frarnework and characterization of its effects resonate with other challenges to the field's claims to magisterial authority. Historians and cultural critics have long argued that historical practices are forged and authorized in historically-contingent relations and conditions; that these disciplinary practices are inadequate to the tasks of recovery and recuperation assigned to History; and that the very profusion

Casting Empire


of disciplinary production-in the form of data and primary sources and archives, but also in the accoutrements of the field's professionalization (journals, associations, accreditation protocols, and so on) -attests to the inadequacy of the disciplinary project itselfe2Building on these and related insights, Frafiments of Empire highlights both the unruliness and proliferation of debates on this imperial reallocation policy and the unevenlysuccessful disciplinary efforts made by contemporaries and hstorians alike to contain and manage this messiness. Knowledge about "populations" and "conditions" generated and authorized over centuries of British imperial expansion and colonial administration in the Caribbean and South Asia and mobilized in the specific context of debates about Indian indentured migration in the middle decades of the nineteenth century have structured not only the collection and organization of data on which historical analyses of these populations and conditions and their interactions are based, but also the very questions with which historians frame our disciplinary effort^.^ Fra~mentsof Empire traces how, in t h s fragment of the epic story of world-historic capital that was generated, circulated, deployed, and authorized by imperatives of imperial government and further monumentalized by hstorical practice, the role of labor was cast for an imperial audience and stage. Cultural, literary, and postcolonial critics and historians have pointed out the inadequacy of "little England" approaches to and imaginings of Britain and British historv and demonstrated the significance of both empire and its elision for constitutions of British identities and national narrative~.~ The point has also been made, more or less explicitly, by those historians who have interrogated colonial accounts of colonial pasts and not only demonstrated the complicity of historical practice and colonialism, but also developed critical approaches to both.5 Fra~mentsof Empire argues that empire imbued the production not only of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontf; and the late nineteenth-century music hall,' but also of the supposedly untainted, foundational categories of analysis deployed when we attempt to uncover or recover the past, pasts, history. It examines how the category of labor was constituted at a particular juncture in capitalist and imperial expansion (when chattel slavery was abolished in Britain's plantation colonies) and naturalized in the courses of imperial administration, criticism, and chronicling of Indian indentured migration to the post-emancipation British Caribbean colonies. Extending the insights and challenges posed by postcolonial criticism to the category of labor and to its place in British history, this book suggests that both were forged in



the crucible of empire. By extension, Fradments of Empire suggests that to the extent that empire is absented from its analytical frameworks, the approaches and scholarship associated with the "new" Social History of the 1960s and 1970s has been doing the epistemological work of empire, reFroducing and reifying contingent meanings and values of "labor" coined and deployed in the middle decades of the nineteenth ~ e n t u r yEmpire, .~ I argue, has been the invisible pretext for the constitution of labor both as an analytical category and, in historiography most particularly, as an identity. Historians of empire have tried to synthesize varied literatures on class, sexuality and race, but have often fallen back on the social historical formulation that empire emerged out of the conflict between the process of ''embo~rge~i~ement~' and its discontents? Attentive to cultural effects of and resonances in the process of imperial expansion, and detailing the multiplicity and varied agency of European colonizers, these histories of colonial encounters and tensions still continue to assume a singular, linear logic of European expansion and colonial consolidati~n.~~ Making history from colonial archives and their partialities, they do not adequately interrogate the reductiveness of that homogenizing (or exoticizing) and hierarchical alterity ascribed to "the colonizedn-whose "subversions" of and "resistances" to colonial projects, anxiously traced in and recuperated from the colonial archive, seem ever doomed to inadequacy and failure-or the cohesiveness and integrity of imperialism." That colonial administrators and their disciplinary technologies crucially shaped and ordered the often contradictory and dsorderly strategies, projects, and visions of empire they encountered and sought to manage, is muted.12 The extent to which these disciplinary technologies are then both privileged as archive and "disappeared" as process by modern historical practice is also inadequately acknowledged, shelves full of criticism and theory notwithstanding. Despite "inclusionary" gestures toward postcolonial criticism of the historical, literary, and anthropological projects, this historiography in effect reaffirms modern history as the biography of European cultural, military and political ascendancy. Conceding the imperial genealogies of the discipline as well as the impossibility of transcending its protocols from withn academic hstorical practice, this study highlights some of the many fragmentssometimes conflicting, sometimes complementary, but never always consistent or uncontested-from which this epic history is assembled.13 I use "empire" in this book not merely with a specific institutional or geographical referent in mind, but also to indcate a habit of mind: an awareness or consciousness of resources and constraints that, while not

Casting Empire


unique to or original with the middle third of the nineteenth century, have informed historiography and imaginings of British national identities, even if it has been relegated to the margins of those national narratives and self-fashionings.14I use empire rather than imperialism because, in the contexts and for the people I discuss, imperial expansion and consolidation were enabling preconditions and byproducts rather than simply ends in themselves.15 Fra~mentsof Empire highlights the prolific instability of empire as a discursive resource, its taken-for-grantedness and deployment by variously-situatedpeople for heterogeneous, even contradictory ends.16 In framing overseas Indian indentured labor in terms of imperial labor reallocation rather than labor migration, this study stands apart from the conventions and assumptions of Labor History.17It seeks to disrupt the causal link established by contemporaries and further elaborated by historians and others between post-emancipation labor shortage on British Caribbean sugar plantations on the one hand, and patterns of labor recruitment in colonial India for those same plantations on the other.18 Plotting a progressive, sequential narrative of indentured migration from India to the British Caribbean obscures the contingency of notions of nation, labor and capital as both analytical tools and political categories. It also obscures the significance of t h s profoundly hierarchical imperial labor reallocation strategy for the universalizing and reification of those contingent notions.19 Further, this conventional narrative strategy has served to maintain in splendd if sterile isolation from each other the mutually constitutive and complicating stories of the British empire in Inda and in the Caribbean, and of Britain. It separates "British" anti-slavery, liberalism, and labor activism from imperial discourses on race, class, gender, and nation. It also separates them from Indian nationalism, Indian diaspora, and the emergence of tensely multi-ethnic societies in two of the largest British Caribbean colonies. An effect of this has been inadequate recognition of the extent to which notions of empire, nation and also labor, were multiple, contradictory and shifting, rather than monolithic and stable.20 This study shows that the commodification of labor in the Atlantic slave trade and colonial plantation slavery in the Americas were hardly interrupted by abolition of the slave trade and slavery in Mauritius, the Cape Colony, and the British Caribbean. Free labor was, for capitalists, mobile labor. Empire made labor accessible to suitably situated employers -legally through reformist interventions eliminating populations' customary or juridical ties to masters or land, and financially through subsidies and loans to cover the costs of transferring laborers located in one part of



the world to enterprises located in another, secured through technologies of imperial rule ranging from promises of profit and uplift, to specters of social unrest and imperial decline, to taxes, laws, and armies.21 Whlle condtions in Trinidad and British Guiana were crucial to the development of Indan indentured migration to these colonies, they were not determining, and the relative portability of capital and labor constrained each dfferentially accordng to extra-local as well as local conditions, discursive as well as material. By the same token, local condtions encountered, set against global or extra-local possibilities imagined or envisioned, could dispose both entrepreneurs and laborers to look overseas for profit or survival. Empire enabled some and blocked others: not randomly, but not either in altogether predictable ways. By focusing on Inhan indentured migration as an imperial labor reallocation strategy, this study casts into relief the webs of association-financial, governmental, individual, and affective-that connected the lives and liberties of imperial subjects all over the world, even as they effected their separation and hierarchization as mobile, deployable units-carriers-of differentially valorized cultures/bundles of cultural resources.22 Parties interested in British Caribbean sugar industries had long plied colonial governors, Colonial Secretaries and officials in other branches of government, members of Parliament, and the reading and listening public with their (sometimes conflicting) views of social and economic conditions in the sugar colonies. Between them, agents maintained by colonial legislatures in London and members of Parliament connected in some way with the British Caribbean colonies ensured that these views found their way into the Parliamentary Papers, where they were readily accessible to lobbyists and other interested parties, as well as to policy makers and legislator^.^^ After emancipation, colonial planters and metropolitan capitalists continued to exploit this valuable resource. They focused on persuading administrators and legislators in Britain that the sugar colonies were sufferingfrom acute labor shortage, and that the consequences of imperial neglect and parsimony would be dire for imperial as well as colonial prosperity and civilization. Their efforts paid off. Imperial administrators and members of Parliament used data included in relevant Parliamentary Papers to justify policies or votes regarding Indian indentured migration and the British sugar colonies. By the mid-184os, much of the legislation required by the Colonial Officeafter emancipation to protect freedpeople's rights and liberties against employers' encroachments was either diluted or defused altogether.

Casting Empire


Planters' persuasive efforts paid off in the long run as well. In response to ongoing pressures from supporters and critics of government policies, dozens of government officers and Parliamentary Committees were appointed between 1837 and 191s to investigate aspects of indentured migration from Inda, or conditions in the sugar colonies. The historical surveys that often prefaced the investigators' final reports were based on the data included in Parliamentary Papers. These reports were in turn incorporated as Parliamentary Papers into the official archives of published official documents on Indian indentured laborers and British Caribbean economic and social condition^.^^ Often, reports and correspondence included in Parliamentary Papers were published or excerpted, disaggregated, reassembled and issued by order of the Colonial Office, colonial governments or their agencies, in anticipation of Parliamentary or Legislative Council debate on Indian indentured migration, in relation to particular policy initiatives, or in response to demands for investigation of the system or its administrators. Parliamentary Papers, together with the unpublished files of letters, petitions, memorials, and other documents brought to the notice of Colonial Office officials by governors, planters, and other parties, form the primary material from which historians derive their analvses of post-emancipation labor conditions and indeed about Indian indentured migration from its beginnings to its suspension, and even beyond. Focusing on deployments of these documents, I argue that the terms in which historical and other studies of indentured migration have been framed are derived from those that animated discussion of the system at its inception in the 1830s and through to its final suspension during World War One.25The conventions and standards of evidence that govern historians' constructions of arguments and narratives have contributed to enhancing the authoritv and value of these official sources.26These methodological biases have also contributed to naturalizing the labor shortage that allegedly threatened British Caribbean sugar industries and the economies and societies that allegedly depended on them. Planters' and their anti-slavery opponents' partisan visions of conditions in British Caribbean colonies (of labor conditions in particular) have been incorporated as baseline information into historical and sociological analyses of emancipation and, by extension, of Indian indentured migrati~n.~' These analytical biases have also contributed to naturalizing and universalizing an ideological dstinction between free and slave labor that was not only historically contingent, but also, in the context of debates over



British slave emancipation, instrumentalist. Fradments of Empire critically examines some of the implications of the failure to adequately acknowledge that both planters' claims of labor shortage and the archives in which these claims are preserved were synthetic political projects. It considers the significance and manipulation of free labor for the development and establishment of the system of Indian indentured labor migration in the decade following abolition of slavery. Further, it argues that "free labor" was a plastic ideology based on emergent and historically contingent, gender-, class-, and race-inflected assumptions about the nature of freedom and labor alike, however deeply it has been frozen in historical practice.28 This book, then, seeks to show how "modern" historical practice and the kinds of documents on which its authority is predcated not only privilege certain people, their perspectives, narratives, categories, and definitions over others and all of theirs (a point social historians have been making for decades), but also reify and calcify them (as poststructuralist and postcolonial critics, among others, have been arguing for some time). To my mind historical practice regarding the category of "labor" has involved the splitting of meanings and their genealogies into the multiple, diverse, and contingent on the one hand (what anthropologists and ethnohistorians discover and show us about the non-elite or those who left few of the privileging and privileged documentary traces historians traffic in) and the hegemonic on the other (what those privileged traces and the historiographies built or accreted around them have taught us to look for, to understand, to explain or explain away). My extended dscussion of the "labor shortage" debates and their the various deployments in se~eraldfferent contexts for dfferent purposes (the immedate aftermath of abolition, in the various contexts of free trade and imperial anti-slavery, imperial administration and monitoring, and finally early twentieth-century anti-colonial Indian nationalism) is aiming to show not only the emergence, functionalit!; and productivity of these debates, but also how they and the categories and meanings of labor associated with them were, in the process, privileged and fixed. I aim to show that the very productivity of the dscourses on labor around the question and history of Indan indentured migration, in conjunction with the ongoing consolidation of colonial knowledge in the reports and studies I focus on (e.g., the report on the so-called Hosay disturbances of 1883 in Trinidad) and the characterizations of Indan migrants' motivations that I discuss in Chapter 6 contributed to a process of homogenization and "flattening" that historians (and others) have continued to reproduce. In other

Casting Empire


words, 1 am suggesting, if only implicitly, that the disciplinary practice of history has privileged a constellation of contingent, gendered, raciallyand nationally-inflectedimperial definitions and understandings of "labor" that were forged in the crucible of territorial expansion and dscursive consolidation of empire and capitalism, liberal reformism, and abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean, the Cape Colony, and Mauritius, thereby rendering these analytically foundational, monumental, and universal. The contradiction, which the book seeks to cast into relief, lies in the persistence of certain working assumptions about free and coerced labor despite or alongside a recognition of the variability of understandings of labor among those studed/the subjects of histories. Insofar as historical practice &scourages throwing the category open to possibly radically different interpretations, it continues to reproduce the hegemonic. The imperial archive, generated in administrative convention and privileged in historical practice, was critical to normalizing the categorical and analytical separations of domestic and imperial, of colonies from each other. As anyone who has engaged with British government archives must know, classification of documents and topics fragmented, fractured, dsassembled, and reassembled causes and effects, developments, and exp e r i e n ~ e When . ~ ~ employers in other British colonies sought Indian indentured laborers, it was because favorable reputations preceded them. These reputations were assigned and elaborated as Indian indentured migration spread from Mauritius, British Guiana, Trinidad, and Jamaica to other Caribbean colonies-British, French, Dutch-and to South Africa and Fiji. Derogatory as well as favorable, they were disseminated and authorized along with recommendations for managing them by metropolitan entrepreneurs like John Gladstone, whose diversified investment portfolios and personal and business contacts in England, India, Mauritius, and the British Caribbean first brought Indian indentured migrants to British Guiana, by imperial legislators and administrators like his son William, member of Parliament, Colonial Secretary, and four-time Liberal Prime Minister of Great Britain, and like h s correspondent of many years, Arthur Hamilton Gordon, successively Governor of Trinidad, Mauritius, and lastly Fiji, where he promoted and facilitated introduction of both Indian indentured labor and a plantation-based, European-owned sugar industry.30 The sum of their experience and authority is preserved in the far-flung, rigorously (if sometimes obscurely) compartmentalized imperial archive on Indian indentured migration, and reproduced as historical documents,



data, hist0ry.3~This was imperial knowledge. It incorporated and exceeded colonial knowledge on some fronts, fell short of it on others, and contributed to fostering new categories of colonial subject and colonial laborer, some of which remained local in significance, others of which swelled or replaced planks in imperial knowledge about labor, nation, race, gender. Fragments $Empire questions the archive's claim to name and know the men and women about whom its many authors made so many reports, evaluations and projections. T h s book considers the ways labor was written about and cast at a critical juncture in the hstories of British liberalism, labor, nation, and empire, when chattel slavery was endng and capital investments in enterprises overseas as well as territorial acquisition were &versifying and proliferating.j2 Frapents ofEmpire focuses on the ways employers, anti-slavery activists, imperial administrators, and Indian nationalists wrote and spoke about labor and about people and cultures in terms of the idealized category of labor by involung, deploying, and elaborating on specific, congealed knowledge about colonized subjects. Labor is a catgwy, a role and not people, and so I focus here on describing how the category was elaborated in the mid-nineteenth century and beyond, rather than on the people cast in it. While this is my focus, I take for granted that even though imperial entrepreneurs and bureaucrats sought to and effectively perhaps did plot, script, cast, direct, and produce the action, they could not effect the outcomes they desired without the women and men whose labor they mobilized. I further assume that these women and men brought to their assigned roles agendas, qualities, possibilities that those who directed them could neither anticipate nor entirely manage. While the people who migrated under indenture from British I n l a to the British Caribbean (and elsewhere) and their descendants may have been cast in the role of "labor," who they were and what they created exceeds that role and the transcontinental stage on which they were pressed to perform that drama.3j Fra~mentsof Empire considers Indian indentured labor not as a process or experience (which has been undertaken by others), but rather as a site where hierarchies of empire were enunciated, contested and inscribed. In The Antilles: Frgments of Epic Memmy, Walcott distinguishes between himself as audience-interpreter of the epic spectacle at Felicity and those who played the roles of gods and princes. They, he writes, "were not actors. They had been chosen; or they themselves had chosen their roles in this sacred story. . . . They were not amateurs but believers. . . . They believed in what they were playing." I would extend the same distinction to

Casting Empire


my own relationship with the characters I have encountered and engaged with in making my way through the archives and historiography on Indian indentured migration, and whose comments, assessments, and uses of the strategy comprise its most important and most-consulted archives. In this other epic story of empire, in which these men fashioned and cast roles for themselves and others, they were not only actors but also believers. While I maj7 see and seek to understand their testimonies and chronicles of empire as theater, for them these same fragments were perhaps, on occasion, articles of faith.

Very Particularly Situated

Westwards came the Whitby, The Hesperus, The Island-bound Fatel Rozack. Wooden missions of imperialist design.

.... Commissioners came, capital spectacles in British frames consulting managers about costs of immigration -Mahadai Das, "They Came in Ships"

THIS CHAPTER FOCUSES on the initial scheme for importing Indian laborers for plantations in British Guiana, its reception and course, and introduces some of the debates and characters that have animated accounts, memories and histories of the migration. Together with imperial considerations raised by the threats, fears, and efforts of British Caribbean sugar interests, and b~ the peculiarities of colonial government in India, anti-slavery, free-trade, and free-labor ideologies were critical in defining the terms under which the traffic was resumed, and to the emergence of regulations and systems for recruiting, transporting, employing, and generally administering to I n d a n overseas workers under indenture. This chapter foregrounds the generation, circulation, and deployment of information about India as a promising field for securing pliant laborers; about sugar colonies and their planters' dubious reputations as employers of labor; about abolitionists, imperial bureaucrats, and merchants. This information and debates, data, and other accretions of succeelng decades, as the excerpt from the poem quoted above illustrates, continue to frame the ways I n l a n indentured migration is genealogized, recalled, and historically constituted.

Very Particularly Situated


On January 4, 1836, less than two and a half years after Parliament abolished slavery in British colonies, John Gladstone dictated a letter to the Calcutta shipping agency Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co? Gladstone, a Liverpool merchant with investments all over the British empire, explained that he had heard that the firm had recently sent "a considerable number of a certain class of Bengalees, to be employed as labourers, to the Mauritius," and that he was interested in exploring the possibility of making similar arrangements for certain colonies in the West Indies, where he himself owned sugar plantation^.^ Mauritius planters had been importing laborers from India since at least August 1834. Begun under private initiative, the importation was soon loosely regulated by the governments of both Mauritius and India.'+ Gladstone's letter continued, "You will probably be aware that we are very particularl~lsituated with our Negro apprentices in the West Indies, and that it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty how they may be induced to continue their services on the plantations after their apprenticeship expires in 1840. T h s is a subject of great moment and deep interest in the colonies of Demerara and Jamaica." Gladstone further explained that, in anticipation of 1840: It is of great importance to us to endeavour to provide a portion of other labourers, whom we might use as a set-off, and, when the time for it comes, make us, as far as it is possible, independent of our negro population; and it has occurred to us that a moderate number of Bengalees, such as you were sending to the Isle of France, [Mauritius] might be very suitable for our purpose.5

Finally, Gladstone sketched out the terms under which he and his associates would import and employ such "Bengalees,'! about one hundred of whom he proposed bringing to Demerara from Calcutta. They should be, he stipulated, "young, active, able-bodied people," at least half of whom ought to be married, "and their wives disposed to work in the field as well as they themselves." They should enter into binding contracts for five to seven years. In exchange for their labor (which he described as "light"), the workers "would be provided with comfortable dwellings, food, and medical assistance," clothing or wages of no more than four dollars a month for the ablebodied. Women and children would be paid according to a sliding scale based on t h s wage. Finally, they would get a free passage to British Guiana, where they would be distributed in groups of twenty to thirty people to participating plantations. Gladstone


Chapter I

concluded his inquiry on an upbeat note, observing that already "Several importations from the Madeiras and Azores have taken place into Demerara, and so far with good effects on the minds of the black^."^

Albion's Seed Born in Leith, Scotland in 1764, John uras the oldest of seventeen children. His father Thomas Gladstones (or Gladstanes) had migrated to Leith from Biggar, and had established himself sufficiently successfully as a corn merchant to marry the daughter of another Lowland Scottish merchant. In 1787 John himself moved to Liverpool, whch, after London, was England's most important mercantile center. There he invested his LI,SOO capital in a partnership with a compatriot, dropped the "s" from hls name, and in 1792 married Jane Hall, daughter of a Liverpool merchant. Like his father, John Gladstone was primarily a corn merchant, although his interests included real estate, insurance, and shipping.' When Jane Gladstone died in 1798, John was worth about L40,ooo. Two years later he married Anne Robertson, a Scottish Highlander and daughter of the Episcopalian Provost of Dingwall, Ross-shire. The match gave the prosperous young Lowlands migrant and Liverpool merchant social connections and pretensions he had hitherto lacked; when Gladstone built an estate outside Liverpool in 181s he named it Seaforth House, in honor of the earl the Robertsons claimed as their clan-chief. The marriage also brought h m into an Evangelicalism so pronounced that John eventually built his own churches with h s own incumbents in both Liverpool and Seaforth. At the family estate, he also set up a school where he planned to prepare his sons for public school, university, and elite careersea In 1803 Gladstone took out his first mortgage on a sugar estate and slaves in Demerara, despite his new family's ardent evangelicalism (an important influence in the anti-slaverv movement that was raging at the time) and his natal family's Scots Presbyterianism? At about the same time, he began a political migration to liberal Toryism from the Whiggishness of his father and the radcalism of his own early years of association with Liverpool's Unitarians, Quakers, and Scots Presbyterians. In 1804 he left the latter and joined the establishment Church of England. Even so, two years later, Gladstone joined religious non-conformists and expatriates alienated from and by Liverpool's Tory and Anglican Corporation in supporting the parliamentary campaign of William Roscoe, a "Jacobin"

Very Particularly Situated who supported Pitt's proposals to end the slave trade and backed calls for franchise extension.1° However, Gladstone's growing commercial interests in Caribbean sugar and Indian cotton alienated him from positions he had earlier espoused. He was increasingly inclined toward supporting not only the Continental blockade, but also its enforcement against the putatively neutral Americans, who were m k n g it possible for rival Cuban and Brazilian sugar to reach Europe. Gladstone's newr distaste for the latter was further excited by British textile manufacturers' growing dependence on American cotton, a development that undermined his own interest in both promoting cotton cultivation in India and challenging the monopoly enjoyed there by the East India Company. In 1812 he joined other Liverpool worthies to persuade the Tory George Canning (himself a petty-bourgeois newcomer to Britain's elite politics) to run for one of the city's two seats in Parliament." While his partisan ambivalence was over, Gladstone's political ambitions were just beginning. By the 183os, he was furthering his ambition through his sons, although he did not give up his hopes for himself until 1837.'~Three of his four sons were eventually members of Parliament. Among them William, the youngest, was the most promising. He was elected for Newark as a Tory in 1832, and his first major parliamentary speech was a defense of slavery. In deference to father John's interests and experience in colonial trade and industry, young William's first appointments in Torv ministries were to the Colonial Office and to the Board of Trade.13 By the end of the Napoleonic Wars, John Gladstone was worth about Lzoo,ooo. In 1816 he completed purchase of plantation Success in Demerara, and then rapidly acquired three more there as well as other properties in Jamaica.14At this time, apparently, he owned 2,000 slaves, over half of whom (1,300) lived and worked on his Demerara plantations.15During the next twenty years, these purchases were to make Gladstone notorious in the anti-slavery press. Two of his Demerara estates, Success and Le Ressouvenir, were at the center of the slave uprising of 1823 that was to become so important to the anti-slavery cause and to the amelioration legislation of a few years later, although not before foq-nine rebels had been executed and John Smith, an English Congregational missionary, had been imprisoned and condemned to death for inciting the rebellion. Among the rebels executed were Quamina, the leader of the uprising, and his son Jack Gladstone, both of whom had been trained by John Smith. Quamina was shot and hung in chains outside Plantation Success. On hearing that the Royal


Chapter I

pardon had arrived too late for Smith, who had died in prison, Gladstone wrote to a friend that he was "not sorry to hear of Smith's death."16 Gladstone entered into a public debate on slavery in the Liverpool journals with the Quaker abolitionist James Cropper, undeterred by events on his Demerara properties or by the notoriety they had earned him.17However, despite his own and his son's efforts, Parliament abolished slavery in 1833. Gladstone's arguments to the contrary, hls fortune and financial empire were not adversely affected by abolition. In fact, under the provisions of the Act, in 1837 he received in compensation for 2,183 slaves the sum of &35,600.'~More important, his diverse financial and shlpping interests, social and political connections, and well-positioned progeny gave Gladstone access to information and resources that few other West India sugar planters had.

Paper Trail Gillanders and Arbuthnot's response to Gladstone's January 1836 letter of inquiry was encouraging and revealing. It confirmed that more than two thousand Indians had gone to Mauritius under five-year contracts to work on the sugar plantations and that they themselves had arranged for the export of seven or eight hundred of these, adding, "Our letters from the Isle of France speak very favourably of the men hitherto sent, many of whom our friends write to us have their task completed by two o'clock, and go home, leaving the Negroes in the field." Gillanders and Arbuthnot assured Gladstone that recruiting a contingent of such workers for the West Indlan colonies would present no difficulties, "the natives being perfectly ignorant of the place they agree to go to, or the length of the voyage they are undertalung." They also recommended a particular group of people from India, explaining that: The tribe that is found to suit best in the Mauritius is from the hills to the north of Calcutta, and the men of which are well-limbed and active, without prejudices of any kind, and hardly any ideas beyond those of supplying the urants of nature, arising it would appear, however, more from want of opportunity than from any natural deficiency, of which there is no indication in their countenance, u~hichis often one of intelligence. They are also very docile and easily managed, and appear to have no local ties, nor any objection to leave their country.

The firm further advised Gladstone to model any labor contract he might want to draw up on theirs because, once duly registered with the British

Very Particularly Situated


Guiana police, the contract could be used by managers to oblige recalcitrant workers to perform the tasks they were assigned. "Such has been the case in the Mauritius," they explained, "and in one or two instances where the men have been idle or lazy, they have been punished by the competent authority." l9 Gillanders and Arbuthnot highlighted two additional features of this recommended, standard contract. First, they pointed out, it made provision for withholding part of the migrant workers' wages against the cost of return passage to India, in case they were found to be unacceptable by their employers and had to be sent home before their contracts expired. Second, as required by the Government of India, the contract was registered with the police in India and witnessed by a magistrate, "after the nature of it has been explained to the parties in their own language."20 This was an important shield against possible charges that the proposed enterprise involved ludnapping, deception, or a new system of slavery-an anxiety that pervaded not only this letter but the entire correspondence, indeed, the history of Indan indentured migration itself. The shadow of abolitionist rhetoric is again evident in the final paragraph of the letter, in whch Gillanders and Arbuthnot carefully assured Gladstone that, "in inducing these men to leave their country, we firmly believe we are breaking no ties of kindred, or in any way acting a cruel part." The "Hill tribes" in question, they explained, "known by the name of Dhangurs, are looked down upon by the more cunning natives of the plains, and they are always spoken of as more alun to the monkey than the man.'' In short, they implied, these people would be better off in the West Indes employed on Gladstone's sugar plantations than they were at present in Inda.21 By the following February (1837), Gladstone was malung arrangements to get official approval for h s proposed labor importing scheme. On the 23rd, he nrrote a long letter to Sir John Hobhouse of the Inda Board, citing the Mauritius precedent and once again invoking the West India interests' fears for the future of their investments after Apprenticeship ended in 1840. He wanted to find out, "before the vessel is sent from Liverpool on so distant a voyage," if his agents would need any special dispensations or charters "in order to secure us against the risk of interference or prevention by the authorities at C a l c ~ t t a . "In~ response, ~ Hobhouse assured Gladstone that, "there is no reason to apprehend that the Indian Government would interfere with the project, as stated by you, of having certain natives of Inda for the cultivation of lands in Demerara," explaining that, "as the hiring is to be voluntary, the only purpose for which the

Chapter I


East India Com~anvor their Local Government could have the wish or the pretence for interference, would be to provide that due care should be taken of the labourers so hired whilst at seas, and to prevent their subsequent aband~nment."~~ Encouraged, Gladstone wrote to Calcutta on March 10, informing Gillanders and Arbuthnot that he and John Moss, also of Liverpool and Demerara, had decided to send Gladstone's ship, the Hesperus, to Calcutta to collect about ISO workers conforming to the description he had given in his earlier letter. He added that, if possible, the term of indenture should be extended from the five vears standard for Mauritius-bound workers to seven years, "at increased wages. . . on account of the distance, and expense that will attend sending them back to Bengal should they desire it."24All seemed to be going well for Gladstone and his new partner John Moss; however, a few days later they confronted their first set back, which hinged on the term of the contracts for the Indian workers they proposed to bring to their Demerara estates. In February Gladstone received from Sir George Grey at the Colonial Office a copy of a labor ordinance enacted in British Guiana on June 22, 1836 and awaiting approval of the Home Government, which limited contracts to three years. Gladstone wrote to Grey on March 13, complaining that while the ordinances did not "appear to apply directly to the measures contemplated for drawing a supply of labourers from Bengal to British Guiana, yet they contain conditions and stipulations of a general character which appear to be such as may materially interfere with, if not wholly prevent, the accomplishment of that object." He also asked for a meeting for himself, John Moss, and other interested associates with Grey and Lord Glenelg, Secretary of State for the Colonies, "at as early a period as may be convenient, for the purpose of stating the impressions we are under in connexion with this subject, which appear to us to be of the greatest importance in reference to the future welfare of the West India C ~ l o n i e s . " ~ ~ Glenelg apparently was in no hurry either to meet with Gladstone and h s allies or to amend the British Guiana ordinance restricting labor contracts to three years; two weeks later Gladstone was still approaching the Colonial Secretary through Grey and still asking for a meeting, "to explain our views to his lordship." Gladstone, for hls part, was unwilling to accept three-year contracts for the Indian workers he proposed introducing in British Guiana, arguing that the obligation to repatriate them at the end of their contracts could only be borne if they engaged to work for a minimum of five years. Gladstone once again explained that the "habits and disposiI



Very Particularly Situated


tions" of the "Hill Coolies from Bengal" currently being imported by his rivals in Mauritius made them ideal for meeting labor needs on Demerara sugar plantations. He added that apparently, "founded on the experience of those taken to the Mauritius," the "Dhangurs" themselves were anxious to engage for Demerara.26Finally, he resorted to the last, best defense contrived by the West India sugar interests over the course of a decade. Gladstone warned the Colonial Secretary that after the end of apprenticeship, "Unless a system of regular continuous labour is then adopted, the cultivation of the sugar-cane cannot then be carried on with a productive result." He described the situation he and his fellow-proprietors envisioned for themselves after 1840. "It is apprehended that the female labourers who now work in the field, will not continue to do so, and that the men are very likely to form combinations for the purpose of restricting the ordnary and necessary periods of labour, as well as to compel the planters to pay them wages, at rates much above their means or ability to comply with," especially given the stiff competition West India sugar now faced from Mauritius and India.27To make matters worse, "the labourers would be in a great measure exempt from pressure, as vegetable food, particularly plantains, are abundant in the colony; their other wants, few in number, are easilv supplied." Gladstone concluded: Under these circumstances, and with such prospects, we are impressed with the belief that it is only by a supply being obtained of other free labourers, to such an extent as may excite competition, and induce our present apprentices to believe that it may become practicable to carry forward the culti\ration on a moderate scale independent of their aid, that they are likely to be influenced for such terms of remuneration as the planters may be enabled to give them. . . . We cannot doubt but that Lord Glenelg, as well as the other members of his Majesty's Government, will see and admit the great importance of these suggestions to the future preservation and prosperin of not only British Guiana, but also of most of our other West India c0lonies.~8

In the end, Gladstone and his associates got the five-year indentures they wanted. Through April and May, however, Gladstone was mired in correspondence with Glenelg. As Secretary of State for the Colonies, the latter had both information about and experience of the Mauritius planters' labor importing scheme, and what he had learned did not help the Demerara merchant-planters in their suit. In November 1835 the Governor of Mauritius, Sir William Nicolay, had recommended that the colonial assembly adopt two ordinances for the better management of both apprentices and the growing body of Indan


Chapter I

contract laborers. Before they had arrived at the Colonial Office for review, Glenelg had learned, "on the authority of the public journals of Mauritius," that these ordinances were so heavy-handed "as nearly to revive, under a new name, the former semile condtion of the great body of the people." In January he informed Nicolay that he could not "feel entirely exempt from anxiety on the subject," and reminded him that he did not have the authority either to make or to approve laws governing relations between free laborers and e r n p l o y e r ~ . ~ ~ By May Glenelg had received the two ordnances, discovered that the journals' reports were not exaggerated, disallowed the laws, and communicated this action and his displeasure to Nicolay. In his despatch to the Governor, he noted that the preamble to one of the ordinances was "wanting not only in perspicuity, but in adaptation to the enactments which follow. The design of the law might more accurately have been described as the substitution of some new coercion for that of slavery, which has been abolished; the effect of it, at least, is to establish a compulsory system, scarcely less rigid, and in some material respects even less equitable, than that of slavery itself."30As a result, when Gladstone and his associates approached the Colonial Office with their proposals for transporting Indian contract workers to work on sugar plantations even farther away from home than Mauritius, they found a wary Colonial S e ~ r e t a r p . ~ ~ Glenelg was not hostile to them or unwilling to allow the traffic in free Indan laborers to proceed, his response to the Mauritius ordnances notwithstanding. Rather, he was determined that the migration, if it d d continue, would not be a liability for either his office or his govern~nent.~~ In the end, Glenelg reluctantly and provisionally conceded five-year contracts to Gladstone in exchange for guarantees that return passage to India would be provided to workers who wanted to go back. On July 12, the Colonial Office issued an Order in Council sanctioning the introduction of Indian laborers into British Guiana under five-year contracts, malung a special exception to the law it had approved for that colony only a few months earlier (March I). Gladstone's final instructions to Gillanders and Arbuthnot were sent from Liverpool on the Hesperus. He drected the firm to make any alterations to the shlp necessary for the health and comfort of the workers it would be transporting to Demerara (the shlp was going to Inda via Mauritius where it would deliver a cargo of horses). In addtion, Gladstone drected that the ship carry rice to Demerara along with the passengers. He wrote:

Very Particularly Situated


You will fill her lower hold with rice, as much as she can take and stow without interfering with the necessary accommodation of the coolies. Let there be as much put on board of the kind of rice as they are accustomed to, and of such other grain or pulse as they are in the habit of using, as will be sufficient for two years' consumption, with such other articles as they require. The rest of the rice we intend to be sold in the colony; . . . You are acquainted with the kind of clothing these people are accustomed to: let a supply be sent of it by the ship, sufficient to last them for two years also; and if there is anything else to which they are accustomed, let a sufficient supply of it be sent, for we are desirous their comforts should be promoted, so as to ensure their arrival in good health.33

Having thus arranged to provide prospective immigrants with familiar food and clothing for the first two years of their indentures, a benefit generally not provided for enslaved Africans in earlier years, Gladstone saw the Hesperus off from Liverpool on June 10, 1 8 3 7 . ~ ~ Meanwhile, in Calcutta, the Governments of Bengal and Inda had been busy coping with the new and expandng traffic in Indan laborers to Mauritius. On May 15, 1836 (just as Glenelg was disallowing the o r d nances devised by Nicolay and the colonial legislature to govern relations between that colony's workers-including Indian indentured workersand employers), the Government of Inda asked the Indan Law Commission to comment on the advisability of introducing legislation for further protecting "Danghur Coolies, or other natives of Inda, who emigrate to Mauritius, and other places not under the Company's Government, in pursuance of engagements to serve as labourers on sugar plantation^."^^ By mid-September, the Commission had reached the conclusion that further legislation was unnecessary, although magistrates in dstricts where recruitment was taking place and in ports of embarkation might be empowered to examine people believed to be coerced into emigrating, to invalidate their contracts if this was found to be the case, and to withhold clearance for shlps suspected of holdng such people or of being inadequately equipped for the voyage to the colonies. Beyond this, it advised, there was nothing "more which the Government of this country can reasonably be expected to do for the protection of that class of persons."36 The emigration to Mauritius continued, although it provoked considerable unease among officials of the government of Inda. In January 1837, the government wrote to the Court of Directors of the East Inda Company in London for advice on the matter. The letter explained that the government were reluctant to impede the migration overseas of free laborers in search of better opportunities; they also felt that it was their


Chapter I

duty to prevent abuse of those laborer^.^' In the meantime, the limited recommendations of the Indian Law Commission were adopted, in Acts V (for Bengal Presidency, effective May I ) and XXXII (extending provisions of the earlier Act to all presidencies as of November 20). In December, the Superintendent of Police at Calcutta (who had jurisdiction under Act XXXII over ships carrying indentured workers to Mauritius) informed the Government of India of the applications made on behalf of John Gladstone et al. to grant licenses for the export of Indian labourers to Demerara. As these applications were peculiar, the Superintendent solicited from the Government of Bengal specific instructions how he should act, and forwarded some original papers produced by the applicants, shewing that the importation of Indian labourers into Demerara had been specifically sanctioned by the Colonial Office in England, and that an Order in Council had been passed to make provision for their reception and treatment in that colony.

The Deputy Governor of Bengal advised Lieutenant Birch that he "had no discretion to refuse a license, if he was satisfied that the labourers had entered voluntarily into the engagement, and were acquainted with the condtions, and also that the arrangements for their accommodation on board ship were sati~factory."~~ Permits were granted accordingly, and in January 1838 the Whitby and Gladstone's Hesperus, carrying in total 437 contract workers, sailed for British Guiana.

Opposition to the Experiment Just as the two shlps were preparing to leave Calcutta, opposition to the entire scheme burst open in London, as the British Emancipator published an article denouncing the executive order of July 12,1837 (sanctioningfiveyear terms for Indnn laborers introduced into British Guiana) in an article published in January 1838. A month later, Gladstone received a letter from G. C. Arbuthnot informing him that he had come across a circular written by an abolitionist charging that the Order in Council of the previous July was "tantamount to a revival of the Slave Trade."39 On March 6, Lord Brougham delivered a speech in the House of Lords "On the Eastern Slave Trade: which charged that Glenelg's Order in Council allowed indentured migration from India to British Guiana, in violation of British The correspondence belaws regardng operation of passenger ~hips.4~

Very Particularly Situated


tween the Colonial Office and John Gladstone was ordered to be collected and laid before the House of Lords in preparation for debate on the traffic of Indian laborers, and was published accordingly in March 1838. Under attack from anti-slavery groups in Parliament and out, Glenelg sent a despatch to Governor Light of British Guiana in May asking for information on "the present State of the Health and Condition of all of them; the Special Magistrates under whom they have been placed; and how far each has been apprised of the fights secured to him by the Order in C ~ u n c i l . " ~ ~ On July 12, exactly one year after it had been issued, Gladstone's Order in Council was rescinded and the export of Indian workers to the sugar colonies suspended. At the end of August, Light reported that he had toured the colony and inspected the new arrivals and their condition. "Some few in Berbice" he wrote, "suffered so much from the Insects, which attack every new comer, that they expressed a wish to return to their C0unt1-y."~~ However, he continued, through the Sheriff of Berbice, Mr. Whinfield, "who speaks their language:' he had been able to explain to the workers that thev would get used to the insects, and that it would anyway be hard to get them home. At the end of the report Light observed, "I have Reason to believe they abandoned the Idea of Return. From the Reports I have received, and from my personal Observation, the Coolies appear satisfied with their Position, and have not disappointed their employer^."^^ Glenelg, however, was dissatisfied with this report. In November, he admonished Light and the Special Magistrates responsible for overseeing indentured workers' affairs, reminding them, "it is of great Importance that I should be in possession of such detailed Information with regard to the Condition of these Persons as may enable me satisfactorily to meet any Inquiries which may be made about them in Parlia~nent."~~ On November 19, just as (unbeknownst to him) he was being chastised by Glenelg in London, Light forwarded to Glenelg a "Summary Return of Labourers, Domestic Servants, and Artificers who have emigrated to British Guiana since August, 1834, compiled from the official Returns of the Special Justices, made in the Month of S e ~ t e m b e r . He " ~ ~also reported that to date fifteen In&an workers had died, noting, "It must be recollected that many of these People had suffered dreadfully from Dysentery during the Voyage, the Effects of whlch have not been entirely removed," and reassuring Glenelg that "the general good Health of the Emigrants from India is equal to that of any other Labourer in this Unfortunately for Light, by the time the lengthy and detailed return


Chapter I

arrived in England a new furor over the traffic in Indian workers was being unleashed by another article in the British Emancipator. Its author, John Scoble of the British Anti-Slavery Society, had gone to the colony to report on post-emancipation conditions. Scoble reported that Indian workers on plantation Bellevue (owned by Andrew Colvile) had "made Tm7o Attempts to escape, as they say to Calcutta," and that nvo workers had escaped from one of Gladstone's estates, and been r e c a p t ~ r e dScoble .~~ wrote that accordng to the teacher at Bellevue, Mr. Berkeley, the Indian workers got sufficient rice and "fat," but that more than ten Indian workers had died since May, and that Mr. Russell, the manager, refused "to give a Rag of Clothes to bury them in.'' Scoble added that a rags-clad Indian worker who had come to his lodgings had said that "Russell no good"; and that he and his companions were sick. Finally, Scoble charged that Indian workers were paid in East India Company rupees, for which "they have been offered by the Merchants Two Bits a piece." He observed, "Surely these Thngs are far from being 'well,' " and concluded by quoting the mournful immigrant he had spoken with earlier, who had confided to hlm, "Calcutta better."48 Scoble's article was calculated to outrage some and embarrass other readers of the British Emancipator, both of which objects it achieved. It also flatly contradicted Light's reports to the Colonial Office. In mid-January (only a few days after the British Emancipator article hit the streets), Light blithely informed the Colonial Secretary that: The Coolies on Mr. Gladstone's Property are a fine healthy Body of Men; they are beginning to marry or cohabit with the Negresses, and to take pride in their Dress; the few words of English they know, added to Signs common to all, prove that 'Sahib' was good to them. The magnificent Features of the Men, their wellshaped, though slender Limbs, promise well for the Mixture of the Negress with the Indian.49

Meanwhile, developments on the British Guiana plantations importing Indan laborers confirmed the worst fears of the system's detractors. Once again, John Gladstone was the focus of the anti-slavery movement's indignation and avenging wrath. In April Light wrote to inform the Colonial Secretary of charges of abuse on Vreed-en-hoop, another of Gladstone's estates. He reported that at the beginning of September 1838, Henry Jacobs (an interpreter for the estate's new Indian work force) allegedly used a cat-o'nine-tails to beat several Indian laborers who had left the plantation without permission (these were the immigrants whose flight and recapture Scoble had reported in his British Emancipator article). Light

Very Particularly Situated


wrote, "It is said they were flogged severely by Monobud, the Driver, until their Backs bled, after which they were taken to the Sick House, and had their Backs washed with Salt and Water."jOA few days later, one of these men apparently again ran away, allegedly because Jacobs beat him in the fields. Light reported that witnesses to these incidents included a number of people "who were in the Negro Yard at the Time the Punishment took place:' and added that two more workers alleged to have disappeared from the plantation had subsequently been found dead. In response to these allegations, Light had directed that two Special Justices and the Assistant Secretary to the Government to investigate the matter, and he forwarded with his letter the minutes of evidence they heard in the course of their inquiries, along with correspondence between the Government Secretary and James Stuart, Gladstone's attorney in Georgetown.jl Significantly, John Scoble accompanied the investigating justices and participated in their interrogations; he would later use this valuable experience to write further exposts of what he would call the "Gladstone slave-trade."52 Neither Sanderson, the manager of Vreed-en-hoop, nor Jacobs recognized the legality of the hearings, and they refused in writing to participate in the proceedings. The Secretary to the colonial government forwarded an account of the inquirv to Stuart, along with a recommendation that both Sanderson and Jacobs be dismissed. Stuart declined to fire them. He admitted that Jacobs (who had assaulted another man in full view of the visiting investigating team) had probably ill-treated some workers, although he also disputed an African-Caribbean woman's incriminating testimony regarding the alleged beatings and dsappearances. However, Stuart claimed that Jacob's indenture could not be terminated (on the evidence of abuse so far presented) unless Jacobs himself agreed; and as far as Stuart was concerned, there was not enough evidence of willful negligence or wrongdoing to warrant dismissal.53 While Gladstone's attorney refused to take any action on the matter, the government continued to prosecute. On May 21, Jacobs pleaded guilty to charges of "Assaulting, beating and otherwise maltreating . . . Maddon, Mohun, Lobin, Thoothoor, and Khatto, by illegally impriso~lingand confining them in the Sick House of Plantation Vreed-en-hoop from Saturday the first to Monday the third September 1838, and then taking them out, tying them up, and then flogging them with a Cat or misted Rope at Plantation Vreed-en-hoop."j4 He was sentenced in a legally constituted Court to a fine of L2o plus one month in George Town Gaol, with provision for further imprisonment if the fine was not paid. Jacobs (described by one


Chapter I

witness as a whlte man), aged twenty-five, had been indentured on January 26, 1838, and had dsembarked from the Hesperus a little over one year earlier, when he was sent to plantation Vreed-en-hoop, where he received Rs 16 a month in wages, and where, unusually, he ate at the Manager's table.55Upon sentencing, he threw himself on the mercy of the Court in a letter pleading ignorance of local customs, and claiming that corporal punishment was not illegal in India, of which place he hmself was a "Native." Reporting this news to Normanby, Light observed: I am grieved to think that the Investigations which have taken place will strengthen the Arguments of those who are hostile to the Introduction of Coolies into this

Province, being convinced that under proper Regulations, as to Sex and Location, the Natives of India might safely be introduced here to the great Amelioration of their own Condition, and the undoubted Benefit of the Province, which only requires Labourers to make it a second to India.56 The documents collected in Parliamentary Papers, records of court proceedngs, journals, and other archives do not give more insight into these migrants' lives and perspectives than can be gleaned from references made by interested parties in the course of defending or discrediting the system, or aspects of it. Not surprisingly, the voices of the men and women who were the subject of controversies and political maneuvering that generated thousands of pages of description, analysis and legislation are elusive and ambiguous. The Colonial Office was sufficiently alarmed by the situation in British Guiana to commission James Spedding to investigate the high mortality among the Indian migrants, examine their general condtion, and comment on the sources of any abuses from which they may have been suffering. Accordng to Spedding, twenty-three people d e d on the way to British Guiana, twenty-one by sickness, two by accident. Spedding attributed this to "the sudden change from the meagre d e t which the Coolies had been used to, to the ample allowance secured by their indentures:' and to the poor condition of twenty-six workers illegally boarded on the Whitby by the captain against the advice of the surgeon, Mr. Whinfield, on whose testimony this theory is based.57 William Gladstone made the same suggestion when he wrote to Normanby on behalf of his father, to account for the high mortality among migrants of the Hesperus. William wrote that his father had always had Reason to believe, from the Evidence given him and the Reports made by the Captain and Surgeon, that these people, previous to Embarkation, had been

Very Particularly Situated


subjected to much Privation, a Case ulell known to be too common with them in Bengal; that when they came to receive as much Food as they could consume, Repletion ensued, which, added to other Causes connected with their general Health, occasioned the Death of Eleven of their Number. several of them Children."58 Adopting and extending the same logic, Speddng used Whinfield's evidence to imply that the high mortality suffered by the Indian migrants was the fault of Gillanders and Arbuthnot and their recruiting agents. He claimed that seven of the eight people who died on the Whitby were among the illegally boarded contingent of twenty-six; further, ten of those who died at Bellevue and two who were chronically confined to the sick-house were from the same batch of uninspected or officially-rejected, illegal migrants. Spedding acknowledged, however, that mortality among the newlylanded Indians was still extremely high, and observed that, of the remaining 412,53 more had died by May I, 1839, "that is to say, rather more than one in eght!" Speddng was convinced that these deaths were theoretically avoidable, although the precautions required for this effect would be virtually impossible to implement. He explained that mortality and sickness would be considerably diminished if prudence were observed in exposing the long-deprived migrants to an abundant diet, and if they could be persuaded to follow proven treatments for chiggers and other parasites from which they were suffering i n ~ r d i n a t e l y However, .~~ he warned that this would not be easy, noting that the migrants were reportedly "filthy in their habits; averse from taking medcines not made by themselves; and generally unwilling to submit to the proper remedies."60 In this way, responsibility for high mortality and frequent illness among the Indan workers was assigned to the migrants themselves. Spedding's report, which was published in late 1839, was significant for vigorously and explicitly rejecting the idea that "any fault can be justly imputed to the Government, or to any of its officers, or to the proprietors in England, by whom the Coolies were transported." Spedding continued, "Everything appears to have been done which could be done by instructions from a distance, to secure them against ill-treatment and neglect"; and added, "the whole transaction wears to me a character precisely the reverse of that which has been popularly ascribed to it."61 Spedding was mildly critical of the means for detecting abuse in the system, noting that, given the class of people involved as both workers and managers, its successful operation "trusted too much" to complaints of "persons injured." Turning to Scoble, Speddlng observed that he and his


Chapter I

associates "went to British Guiana solely, I believe, for the purpose of discovering grounds of complaint," on behalf of the indentured Indians. He rebuked them for stirring up trouble where it d d not exist and for talung their complaints "not to Governor Light, but to the Edtor of the British Emancipator; which caused a delay of several months in redressing them." He noted however, that the inquiries ordered by Governor Light had had a salutary effect on the managerial staff and condtions on the plantations he visited in the course of his own investigati0n.6~ Finally, Spedding noted that Jacobs's case was investigated, tried, and despatched speedily, responsibly, and efficiently. He took the opportunity to add that, while the floggings had been illegal, they "were in no respect cruel; indeed they were no more than the Coolies had been used [to] in their own country to submit to from the superintendents." He concluded his report by declaring, "In this respect it cannot be even plausibly maintained that they have been left without protection, or that they are worse off than they were."63

A New Debate: Free Labor, Free Trade, and Indenture While debate over Indian indentured workers had been raging in Britain and events in British Guiana had been unfolding, separate but equally heated controversy was brewing in Inda. In May 1838 the LieutenantGovernor of Bengal directed Captain Birch, Superintendent of Calcutta Police, to withhold permits to ships intending to carry Indian contract laborers to the West Indies, and referred the entire matter to the Government of IndiaP4By this time, "the echo of the agitation in England against the deportation" of Indian laborers to the sugar colonies appears to have reached India, "and the allegations on which that movement was based deeply stirred the minds both of Lord Auckland and the Members of his Council, and indeed, of the public generally. Independently, and almost simultaneously, the Governor General at Sirnla and Mr. Bird at Calcutta recorded minutes on the subject."65 In the letter he sent to the Court of Directors along with hls minute, Auckland revealed his ambivalence on the ~ubject.6~ Consistent with earlier positions taken by his government, and indeed with those taken by the Colonial Office, Auckland's concerns centered on the tension between a conviction that the InQan workers were vulnerable to abuse and a commitment to enforcing those workers' right to sell their labor at the most

Very Particularly Situated


favorable terms available, even if it meant migrating overseas. He wrote that, because the scale of emigration had expanded far beyond his expectations, the Home Government should be consulted. Revealing the vagueness of his own notions of where in the world Indan indentured workers were being sought and sent, or that Demerara and Berbice, along with Essequibo, were parts of the newly constituted colony of British Guiana, he added: I understand that engagements have been made with the Indian labourers for embarking them to Demerara, to Berbice, to Sydney, and to British Guiana, places far removed from the cognizance of this Government; and to arrangements of this description I should be strongly opposed, unless fully satisfied respecting the measures of precaution and protection in force at each settlement, and adopted by the Colonial Office of Her Majesty's Government.67

Meanwhile, in Calcutta, Mr. Bird was recordng his own minute. He noted that, the regulatory Acts of 1837 notwithstanding, prospective emigrant workers were still being kidnapped and misled about the condtions under which they were to work and the distance of the colonies they were to travel to. He observed that, even if these abuses could be averted or even reduced (which he doubted), neither the government of Inda nor the workers themselves had the means for enforcing the terms of the contracts, "for which the Government, in fact, or at least in the eyes of the labourers, had become the guarantee." Bird added that the workers would be at the mercy of their employers "in the remoter colonies, with which the Government of India had no communication, and where every thing was unknown even to ourselves (except that the negro apprentices, whose place the labourers in question were intended to supply, continued to be inhumanly treated)."68Eight days later, pressures from the streets came to a head, obliging Bird to take decisive action. In May Calcutta newspapers reported on the "infamous conduct" of "chokedurs who are put on guard over the Coolies, shipped for Demerara on board the Hesperus:' and alleging that a man had died on the way, "in consequence of his having been kept below," The report also charged that the indentured workers had to pay the "chokedurs to be allowed on deck," and claimed that "the agent for shipping these poor unfortunate people has stated that he is authorized to ship ten thousand !"69 On July s, the AsiaticJournal in Calcutta published an account of kidnapping and coercion by recruiters for Mauritius, including "authenticated" reports from a Sergeant Floyd of the Calcutta Police to the local m a g i ~ t r a t eOn . ~ ~July 10,a


Chapter I

Town Meeting was called to consider these and other allegations of abuse in the traffic, and a petition to the Government requesting that the emigration be stopped immedately was approved by those assembled and duly forwarded. The petitioners observed that, despite the honorable efforts of the Governor and his Council to regulate recruitment for overseas contract laborers, they had come regretfully to the conclusion that "the system was radically bad and contained in itself the elements of a new species of slavery."71 They went on to say that their concern had been deepened by Lord Brougham's contention in the House of Lords debate on the subject, that the "slave trade, which has cost the British people twenty millions to suppress commenced with as professedly benevolent intentions as this trade." They added that their opposition to the system was sealed by evidence of the "inhumanizing views" of parties involved in the traffic. The petitioners charged that these parties, "both in private and confidential communications" had stated that the people they planned to recruit for overseas indentured labor belonged "to the race of the monkey rather than the man, that they are ignorant of their destination, care not for their wives and families, and other arguments equally at variance with good policy, equity and humanity."72Clearly, the petitioners were referring to the correspondence between Gladstone and Gillanders and Arbuthnot, and between the latter and Andrew Colvile, all of which (as indcated earlier) ~ ~ petitioners had been laid before the House of Lords in March 1 8 3 8 . The misrepresented the correspondents when they charged that Gillanders and Arbuthnot had compared prospective emigrants to monkeys; as we have seen, the letter in question, from Arbuthnot to Gladstone, had reported that Indians from the plains described people from the hills in that way.74 However, more significant than the misrepresentation is the fact that this private commercial correspondence was accessible to its critics in Calcutta. The ability to insert selected correspondence and documents in Parliamentary Papers gave Gladstone and his associates a valuable opportunity to shape the opinion of imperial policy makers and legislators, and of the readng public as well. Of course, while they may have had considerable discretion over what was included in these published archives, they did not always have control over how the material was used.75 Finally, the petitioners emphatically denied that they had "even the remotest idea of interfering with the free agency and civil rights of the emigrant^."^^ They assured the Council that, if the prospective emigrants "were capable of understandng the loss they sustain in separation from their families and country, and the nature of the contract into which they

Very Particularly Situated


enter," they themselves "would consider it both improper and superfluous" to interfere. They concluded by aslung the Council to suspend further shipments "until it is proved that the emigration is fraught with as great advantage to the Indian emigrants as to the exporters and employers themselves.'' '' The following day (and just one day before Parliament rescinded Glenelg's ill-fated Order in Council of the previous year), Bird ordered that permits be denied ships carrying Indian indentured workers to British colonie~.'~ He also directed the governors of all three presidencies to appoint committees to inquire into allegations of abuse in recruitment, forwarded requests to the governors of all importing colonies that they appoint committees to investigate the condition of already-resident Indian laborers, and wrote to the Court of Directors in London informing them of his actions and asking for further instruction^.'^ The anti-slavery strategies that had been deployed in the successful struggle against African slavery in British colonies were now mobilized against Indian indentured migration. Paternalism toward vulnerable and ignorant Indian natives, hostile familiarity (spawned in the struggles over abolition) with sugar-planters' reputations, and free-trade liberalism were crucial elements of the debate on the export of Indian indentured laborers to British colonies overseas, as contexts but also as weapons. However, opponents of the system did not have a monopoly on these resources. Proindenture parties could invoke the helpless native and the call for liberty for their own purposes, and they were not reluctant to do so. On July 23, representatives of mlelve Calcutta firms "connected with the trade of the Mauritius" sent a counter-petition to the government of BengaLS0They summarily rejected the comparison made in the July 10 Public Meeting between the export of Indian workers and the slave trade. They protested that "nothing can be more unjust in assertion, or more forced in argument, than the analogy said to subsist between the now abolished slave trade, and the free labour market established between those we represent and the natives of this country." The petitioners questioned the wisdom of suspending operation of this free market in order to arrest frauds allegedly perpetrated bv recruiters, and argued that the question raised by indentured migration rested "on a much broader basis than it is allowed to do bv those who insist not only on abolitionary, but of prejudicative abolitionary measures being adopted in regard to it." They continued: It is a question involving the rights of British subjects (in principle, of all British subjects) to carry their manual labour to the most productive market. . . . Any


Chapter I

other political doctrine, though practically extended for the present to only a particular class of men, must obviously be extensible to all classes alike; and to assert it, therefore, in this case, would be to establish a precedent of the most perilous nature to constitutional liberty. The counter-petitioners added that their enterprise benefited Indian workers by giving them access to a flourishing foreign market for their labor where they could earn higher wages and live better than they could at home, "and whence they may return, after no very protracted absence:' to inspire their neighbors to follou~their example and improve their material condition, "and thus draw comparative affluence to their homes, as well as expand their minds beyond the narrow circle of their various local prejud i c e ~ . "These ~ ~ petitioners concluded by asking for a full and impartial investigation into the traffic, fullv confident that they would be vindicated, and emigration again allowed. These Calcutta merchants' 1838 arguments in defense of indentured migration would be echoed in subsequent debates over whether the restrictions imposed in that year by the Government of India and by Parliament ought to be rescinded, relaxed, or upheld. They would also surface regularly through the century as scandals and crises provoked sporadic but ferocious debate over the migration of Indan indentured laborers to overseas colonies. In the meantime, John Gladstone's labor reallocation scheme was a failure and a scandal. In September 1839, Gladstone started to withdraw from the British Caribbean sugar business and was out completely by 1845, when the scheme was resurrected and expanded. To the end, however, his activities in the British Caribbean brought him unwelcome notoriety, at least in the anti-slavery press. His associate Andrew Colvile also got bad press. A news item inserted at the end of a March 1840 issue of the Anti-Slavery Reporter informed readers of personnel changes on his Plantation Bellew e , Demerara, "of Coolie notoriety." The attorney, manager, doctor and driver who had figured prominently in Scoble's expost, and who had subsequently been investigated by colonial magistrates in 1839, had finally been dismissed-an achievement attributed to Scoble's investigative rep0rting.8~Still, Gladstone was a favorite target with the editors of the Reporter, and with John Scoble in particular. In March 1841, under the title "THE GLADSTONE SLAVE TRADE:' the Anti-Slavery Reporter (successor to the British Emancipator) reprinted a letter from John Scoble to the edtors calling their attention

Very Particularly Situated


to the speech by H. G. Young, government secretary in British Guiana, reprinted in an earlier issue of the newspaperF3 Scoble noted that, in the process of trying to show that property values in the colonies were undiminished since emancipation, Young referred to the sale of Gladstone's Vreed-en-hoop for L35,ooo, "with L2,ooo MORE FOR THE SERVICES OF THE COOLIES FOR TWO YEARS!!" He continued: Now, when we recollect the circumstances under which these wretched creatures were brought to This estate, and their horrible treatment whilst I was in the colony . . . their sale, for a period of two years, though in keeping with previous transactions, appears almost too monstrous to be believed.84 Scoble concluded by promising to follow up on this sale of the indentured workers' labor, whch he insisted was illegal under the terms of their contracts and under the terms of the British Guiana ordinance voiding labor contracts made outside the colonyF5 In another letter to the edtors, in July 1841, Scoble noted with satisfaction that Gladstone's intriguing transactions had also piqued the curiosity of Governor Russell and Young, his Colonial Secretary. However, he added, "their notice of it has been without advantage to the poor The material on which Scoble based this report was culled from papers recently laid before both houses of Parliament at the Queen's command. Among these was a November 1840 despatch from Light to Russell, detailing the terms under which Gladstone's properties were reportedly being sold to Dr. Smith (the colonial surgeon for British Guiana) and h s London-based brother, and recording the governor's ambivalence about them. Suspecting that "it would neither be advantageous to their health or comfort, if this transfer were to be enforced without the consent of the Coolies," Light had asked Crown lawyers in British Guiana for their opinHe had directed their attention to two ion on the legality of the tran~fer.~' points: whether transfer of the Indian workers on Vreed-en-hoop could only be to another of Gladstone's estates in Demerara; and whether, in the event of such a transfer, Gladstone would first have to get the workers' consent. The Crown lawyers had concluded that an indentured worker's consent was "indispensably necessary to his transfer," and that Gladstone's transfer of his properties to his sons canceled the indentured migrants' contracts with himF8 Russell referred the matter to Her Majesty's attorney and solicitor-general,who early in 1841 noted that Gladstone's trans-


Chapter I

actions regarding the indentured migrants "certainly have very much the aspect of a sale of the services of the Coolies, as if they were slaves for a limited time, and must be liable to great abuse." He added, "I have to observe that such a transaction as the one in question will make her Majesty's government insist more strongly on the maintenance of the order in council, whlch forbids contracts of service for more than one year." In short, the Indian workers' contracts were voided the day Gladstone transferred hls properties to his sons. "Yet these sons," Scoble observed, "and William Ewart Gladstone (who would give the state a conscience) among them, have enjoyed the fruit of their labour up to the period of the sale of the property . . . without compunction. Like father, like sons!"89 Apparently the Smith brothers were anxious about the legal implications of the deal; they decided against contracting for the services of the indentured migrants on Vreed-en-hoop. In March 1841, Light reported to Russell that Dr. Smith, "on examining the condition of the Coolies, did not find them in the effective condtion represented; and, moreover, the lawfulness of the transfer, without the consent of the Coolies being doubtful, he would not confirm the contract." Light also wrote that according to Dr. Smith the deal had been negotiated "with the intimation of an intention on the part of Mr. Gladstone, to offer the Coolies for public competition by sale, if the terms were not agreed So dubious a move was not likely to win friends and influence enemies, and Scoble made the most of this evidence of Gladstone's indifference to law and the condition and rights of his indentured employees. In the meantime, Light was left with the legal problems created by Gladstone's unchallenged sale of other estates. As far as Light and the Crown lawyers were concerned, sale of plantation Vreedenstein had nullified the contracts of the indentured migrants located there. Light was concerned that Gladstone could use this to get out of his obligation to repatriate them to Inda, and asked the Crown lawyers for their opinion. He reported that, according to them, "Mr. Gladstone having sold his estates, the Coolies were so far relieved from their indentures that they could claim an immediate passage back to Calcutta:' and that, if Gladstone refused to do so, they would "have recourse upon him by actions of law." However, the Crown lawyers also felt that if the indentured migrants stayed in British Guiana but left Gladstone's employment, "their claim to free passage from Mr. Gladstone would be Scoble reported that, when the deal with the Smiths regarding the

Very Particularly Situated


Indian migrants' services fell through, Gladstone had "transferred" them to Stuart, his attorney in British Guiana. He also reported that early in 1840 (before Light sought the Crown lawyers' opinion for the second time) Stuart had decided to "bring the matter to an issue: by moving the Indian migrants from Vreed-en-hoop to Vreedenstein or Wales, former Gladstone properties that he had apparently bought himself. Stuart wrote to Stipendiary Magistrate Mure in February 1841, to inform him of the proposed move and to invite him to address the Indian migrants and inform them of their options, of which they were still ignorant. In March Mure reported to Light that he had told the Indian workers that their contracts were "vitiated" by the transfer of Vreed-en-hoop from Gladstone to his sons, and that they now had to decide what to do. He explained their legal situation as determined by the Crown lawyers, and advised them not to claim their free passage, explaining that if Gladstone refused to oblige, their only hope would be to sue him, as the government was not prepared to assume responsibility for their repatriation. Mr. Stuart, who accompanied Mure, then informed the assembled indentured migrants that he would guarantee return passage to India to anyone who "might continue to work for the benefit of Mr. Gladstone till the termination of the indentures," but that he would not extend this benefit to anyone who would not fulfill his or her indenture, or refuse to go to the other e~tates.9~ Scoble observed, "Thus the only alternatives left these poor creatures were starvation, or the abandonment of the hope of ever regaining their native land, or submission to the will of Mr. Gladstone. Slaves they urere, and slaves they remain."93 The critique of chattel slavery developed in the course of the struggle to end the slave trade, to ameliorate the worst abuses under slavery, and finally to abolish slavery altogether, rested on a radical opposition between slave and free labor in which the former was vilified as the threatening absence of liberty, while the latter was celebrated as one of its fundamental g~arantors.9~ In this framework, liberty meant the right to sell one's labor to the highest bidder; the formulations conceded little significance (if any) to the relative power of the parties concerned, or to the conditions under which the transactions took place. From the mid-1830s and for the next seventy-odd years, opponents of the trade in Indian indentured labor were largely confined to making their various cases either by resurrecting the specter of slavery or by representing the Indian workers in question as


Chapter I

peculiarly vulnerable to abuse by recruiters and employers anxious to lure them into signing contracts they could not understand: starving, destitute, abandoned women and men with little hope, few prospects, and no friends save the Government of India, Parliament, and the occasional Protector of Immigrants in the importing colonies. Supporters of the system would use the same images to their own ends. Indentured labor in the colonies promised work, wages, housing, medical attention, and a chance to get ahead to men and women to whom India offered only hunger, poverty, and stagnation: a last, best hope. Governor Light, the stipendary magistrates, and even the managers and overseers accused of abusing Indan workers were doing neither more nor less than they or their predecessors had done under slavery, or than their counterparts were doing in mines and factories everywhere, including Britain and India?5 The condition of the dwindling contingent of four hundred Indian men, women, and children in British Guiana was shared by men, women, and children in Lancashre and elsewhere in industrializing Britain who received inadequate wages for debilitating work performed for extended periods in dangerous en~ironments.9~ T h s common condition represented a dilemma for the anti-slavery activists who also opposed the traffic in Indian workers and, finally, defined the limitations of their critique, tactics, and movement. In the short term, the dichotomy drawn between slave and free labor was successful in stopping the traffic in Indian workers to overseas colonial sugar plantations. In the longer term, however, it could be and was used to reopen the trade, which resumed in 1842 for Mauritius and in 1845 for British Guiana, Jamaica, and Trinidad. The next chapter focuses on the debates attendant on this process. The story of Gladstone's pursuit of indentured labor also illustrates both the extent to which the Indian indentured labor migration was an imperial enterprise and the contingency of the specific factors that combined to send the Hesperus and the Whitby ("wooden missions of imperialist design:' as Das's poem puts it) from Liverpool to Calcutta to British Guiana in order to carry about four hundred Indian laborers to the plantations of a handful of absentee, metropolitan capitalists. Gladstone turned to Inda because he had heard that Mauritius planters had been successful with Indian workers since the Act of Abolition was passed; he had himself recruited workers from other Caribbean colonies, Madeira, even Hanover, and Andrew Colvile had explored possibilities of recruiting black workers from the United States. They were able to experiment with Indian workers

Very Particuiarly Situated


because they had access to contacts and resources in I n d a as well as in Britain and in the Caribbean. Indians seemed ideal to these men because they were from overseas and would be dependent and coercible, and because they were accessible-"free" to be used to discipline the black laboring population, nearly-emancipated from slavery.

Capitalists in the Neighborhood

The British Legislature had not satisfied itself with deliberating, and deciding; it had also inquired; and inquiring, it had called for evidence. This call, by the fortunate publicity of parliamentary proceedings, brought forth the records of the councils in India, and their correspondence, with one another, with their servants, and with the constituted authorities in England: a portion of materials, inestimable in its value; but so appalling by its magnitude, that many years appeared to be inadequate to render the mind familiar with it. Such is a short and very imperfect description of the state of the materials. The operations necessary to draw from them a useful history, formed the second subject of consideration. -James Mill, The Histmy ofBritish India, pp. 5-6

WHILEGLADSTONE'SSCHEME was unsuccessful, sugar estate operators undertook other, more successful strategies for regaining ascendancy over workers after emancipation. This chapter places these efforts in a larger post-emancipation context of labor reallocation, and focuses on the role of sugar estate operators in establishing a new orthodoxy about labor shortage. This orthodoxy stated that, in the aftermath of abolition, sugar production in the British Caribbean in general and certain colonies in particular was suffering due to acute shortages of labor, that former apprentices were responsible for the shortages, and that only imperial loans facilitating a prompt and large-scaleinfusion of laborers from overseas could avert the economic catastrophe and moral decline that threatened this part of the British empire.

Capitalists in the Neighborhood


Background After abolition of the slave trade, planters explored the possibility of importing laborers from India and China to both augment and control the labor of slaves.' In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, developments in North America, Europe, and Asia had combined to present British governments, their colonial counterparts in the West Indies, metropolitan merchants, and colonial sugar planters with new and perplexing challenges and problems. In 1783 an escalating nventy-five-year struggle between thirteen North American colonies and metropolitan Britain had ended in a treaty recognizing the independence of the former and the establishment of the United States. This was a problem for West India planters and merchants. Their trade and markets had long been limited by the same metropolitan policies that had alienated their counterparts in the north.2 Now, however, while their sugar continued to be admitted to Britain at lower rates than sugar produced elsewhere, they were denied access to the American grain, meat, dairy products, and lumber on which their profitable colonial sugar industry had come to depend.3 Early in 1775 absentee planters and merchants in London were sufficiently alarmed by deteriorating relations benveen the American colonists and the British to overcome their own internecine rivalries and pool resources. On January 18, the British West India Society of planters and the association of West India Merchants convened their first joint meeting to monitor and consider developments in North America? Three years later, the two bodies further formalized their relationship by forming a joint standing committee, which was to play an important role in subsequent battles on behalf of British Caribbean sugar interests. The emergence of this standing committee in this period suggests the extent to which the influence of the Caribbean sugar magnates had declined: they could no longer assume support and protection from Parliament and government Ministries, and needed a permanent lobby to represent them and further their intere~ts.~ As the American colonies moved toward secession and independence, British sugar's virtual monopoly on the world market was challenged by the expansion of sugar production in French Saint Domingue. By the early 189os, Prime Minister Pitt was proposing abolition of the Britishdominated slave trade in a radical effort to arrest French Saint Domingue's surging production by cutting off that colony's access to new slaves. In


Chapter 2

addition, he recommended that, in order to challenge France's command of the world sugar market, sugar cultivation be aggressively pursued in India, where labor was reportedly plentiful. Conditions in the sugar industry and in Britain's empire had changed so much that the once paramount Caribbean colonies were now considered expendable. Fortunately for themselves, however, the sugar interests' influence in London was still considerable. The India threat conjured up by Pitt was effectively neutralized when Lord Hawkesbury refused to allow alteration of existing sugar duties, "in favour of a monopolising company." The more immediate threat of Saint Domingue was also eventually solved, although not as easily.6 The French revolution precipitated a slaves' revolt in Saint Domingue. Although the French and British both tried to suppress the revolt and reassert the ancien regime of a colonial slavocracy, the uprising resulted in abolition of slavery and proclamation of the Republic of Haiti in 1804. Revolution and reaction together effectively undermined the area's slave, plantation-based sugar industry.' This threat to British Caribbean sugar thus eliminated, British sugar interests may have hoped to return to the cultivation of their own sugar industry and enjoy the rise in prices that greeted the demise of Saint Domingue. However, the French revolution also precipitated war between Britain and first republican, then imperial France. The wars disrupted trade and, more important, introduced into the family of British Caribbean colonies some relatively unexploited territories with sugar-producing potential: Trinidad, captured in 1797 from the Spanish, and Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice (later known collectively as British Guiana), captured from the Dutch. In contrast to older British Caribbean colonies, these new acquisitions, made into British colonies early in the nineteenth century, were ruled directly by the Crown, with the advice of local consultative bodies made up of both elected representatives and members appointed by the Governor. In these captured colonies, with their non-British European planter elites, legislative initiative was reserved to the Crown. Generally Crown Colony Governors submitted legislative proposals (known as Ordinances) derived in consultation with colonial Councils to the Colonial Office for approval. The latter could dsallow them either entirely or in part, or approve them through an Order in Council. Alternatively, the Colonial Secretary could legislate for Crown Colonies on his own initiative by issuing an Order in Council drectly from Londom8 Landed interests in Trinidad and British Guiana were both well-represented in the consultative coun-

Capitalists in the Neighborhood


cils and influential in their own right, as it was up to them to facilitate or impede implementation of imperial policies? Nonetheless, this innovation in government ensured that imperial authorities had more influence over juridcal and other developments in Crown Colonies than they had over legislative activities in self-governing colonies. Further, because it muted resident colonials' influence on legislation and policy, Crown Colony rule also represented a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs based in Britain, who had better access to the policymakers at the Colonial Office than did even such privileged Trinidadians and British Guianans as the members of those Crown Colonies' consultative councils. Interested parties in Britain could more significantly influence imperial policies for Crown Colonies than they could hope to do in the case of the self-governing colonies, where local interests had considerably more voice. Indeed, its status as a Crown Colony was probably an influential if not necessarily a determining factor in Gladstone's decision to seek Indian laborers for his Demerara estates rather than for the ones he owned in Jamaica.lo Some planters and their associates with investments in the older sugar colonies (Jamaica or Barbados, for example) viewed these fertile new acquisitions with suspicion, while abolitionists, who had been encouraged by Pitt's earlier calls for an end to the slave trade, viewed the annexations with deep concern. Although motivated by different impulses, elements in both camps recommended that the importation of African slaves into the new colonies be prohibited. In 1804 Pitt recommended that the West India interests generally accept this compromise." Two years later, in the context of a Europe controlled by Napoleon and made inaccessible to British colonial products by the British navy's Continental blockade, Parliament abolished the slave trade in all British colonies.12 Abolition of the slave trade d d not result in either immediate disaster or recovery for the British sugar interests. Planters who could afford it used the advance notice to stock up on slaves;13 thereafter, planters (especially those in Trinidad and what would become British Guiana) evaded the prohibition through a loophole that allowed for the introduction of slaves into British colonies provided they were personal attendants of the traveling owner.14Planters also apparently retained their slave-holdings by granting fewer manumissions; in general, they seem to have tried everything short of improving slaves' living and worlung condtions to weather the loss of the labor supply line from


Chapter 2

The end of the French wars compounded problems in the British Caribbean sugar industry. Collapse in the price of sugar and the emergence of new investment opportunities in India limited the credit once available to West InQan sugar producers, and many estates were either seized by merchant-creditors or abandoned outright.16 In addtion, economic depression in the 1820s was accompanied by growing agitation in Britain itself for political reforms, ranging from franchise extension and elimination of "rotten" boroughs to abridgement of privileges in trade and industrial relations. Conditions in the colonies were considered even more incendiary. The establishment of Haiti and abolition of the slave trade apparently buoyed British-owned slaves' hopes for emancipation, and repeated disappointment gave rise to increasingly frequent rebellion." One of the most notorious of these outbreaks occurred in 1823 in Demerara, where antislavery activist and Congregational minister John Smith had been preaching in slave communities and supplying his associates in Britain with Qstressing eyewitness accounts of British slavery. The uprising involved some 13,000 slaves. Forty-nine of them, including Quamina and Jack Gladstone, were executed, and Smith was tried and condemned to death for his part in the uprising.18 News of these events helped turn British public and parliamentary opinion further against the planters. The Tory Home government was obliged to advise self-governing colonies immediately to adopt ameliorating measures for preventing abuse of slaves, and they implemented such laws directly in the Crown Colonies, Demerara and Trinidad.19However, despite warnings from London-based West Indian lobbyists that resistance would only antagonize an already hostile public and fuel support for demands for complete emancipation, colonial assemblies were uncooperative. In the Crown colonies, the measures were enforced indifferentlyFOOn the commercial front, the situation was equally bleak for the British Caribbean sugar interests. In 1825 the highly privileged position of their sugar in the British home market was finally breached with adrnission of Mauritius-grown muscovado (a relatively unrefined grade of sugar that dominated West India production) into Britain at the rates hitherto reserved for West Indian muscovado. By 1829 the standing committee of West India merchants and planters was lobbying earnestly against cheap sugar, Reform and emancipation, not only in Parliament and in the British press but also with their own members in secondary port cities like Liverpool and Glasgow and in the colonial assembliesF1 However weakened, the influence of the West India merchant-

Capitalists in the Neighborhood


creditors remained considerable. The Act of Abolition, passed in 1833 by the reformed Parliament elected in 1832, reflected planters' and West I n d a merchant-creditors' success in shieldng their investments from hostile abolitionist sentiment. The Act provided that slaveowners be compensated for the loss of their human property through a combination of money grant (a sum of A20 million was approved for the purpose) and deferral of adult slaves' full emancipation for six years. It also provided that compensation be paid in London, rather than in the colonies, which enabled merchant-credtors, who often held power of attorney for their clients, to recuperate some or all of the loans they had made to planters over the years. During this period former slaves were to continue to work as "apprentices" for their former masters for six days of the week in exchange for continued provision of customary allowances (food, clothing, housing). Apprenticeship was skipped entirely in some affected colonies and ended early (summer, 1838) elsewhere, subverted by the actions and interactions of both apprentices and planters.22 Elsewhere, planters resorted to intimidation and coercion to maintain the privileged position in labor relations that slavery had given them. Their efforts included physical abuse, intimidation, and eviction of intractable workers from their dwellings and provision grounds on the plantations; over-appraisingthe value of apprentices who sought to buy their freedom early; and approval by colonial assemblies of legislation designed to limit the former slaves' mobility and command of their own labor.23While these coercive tactics were not altogether unsuccessful, the zeal with which they were implemented exacerbated apprentices' impatience, excited concerns among imperial administrators, abolitionists, and legislators in Britain and the Caribbean colonies alike, and contributed to the early termination of apprenticeship and the granting of full emancipation to the apprentices on ~ ~ is the context in which Gladstone sought to import August I, 1 8 3 8 .This indentured laborers from Inda for his plantations in British Guiana. His experimental labor transfer may have failed, but the concerns that fueled his pursuit of workers from overseas continued to inspire others interested in British Caribbean sugar to try again. Furthermore, his recourse to indentured laborers from Inda during apprenticeship indicates the synthetic, strategic dimensions of the planters' post-apprenticeship claim that emancipation had precipitated labor shortages so acute as to require massive infusions of laborers from abroad.25


Chapter 2

Immigration and Naturalization In 1836, a parliamentary Select Committee was formed to consider what should be done with land in British colonies, and about migration to and settlement of those lands. Among those invited to testify before the committee was Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who had been writing extensively and persuasively on the value of the colonies in relieving the Malthusian demographic and social pressures from which, he warned, Britain was beginning to Wakefield's theories about land (prices and units of distribution), labor (age and sex lstribution of migrants) and the relationship between the two had made a considerable impression on another witness, the American-born William H. Burnley, who owned sugar plantations in Trinidad, and who was to emerge as well as the colony's most ardent booster and a most tireless promoter of immigration to the British Caribbean colonies. Burnley argued that sugar cultivation could be profitably expanded in Trinidad, where it had only relatively recently been introduced, but that without guarantee of a reliable and affordable source of labor nobody would be willing to invest any more capital in the colony. Burnley testified that, two years into the Apprenticeship period, he was "under great alarm and anxiety with respect to the results of emancipation: adding "I see no certain mode of carrying on the cultivation of our West I n l a colonies, unless the plan now proposed by Mr. Wakefield is carried into execution." He explained that his experience of Apprenticeship convinced him that freedpeople after "full emancipation" would not work "steally," and he added that in certain cases, "It would probably not be advantageous that they should. The women may occasionally be better employed at home."27In linking emancipation and women's labor in this way, Burnley was echoing Gladstone's analysis, and tracing what would become a well-worn path. Burnley told the Committee that the availability of fertile land in the colony would enable the Apprentices, once freed, to live without tvorking for wages, and that under the circumstances the imperial government should set both a high price and a large minimum acreage (he proposed 600 acres) for each unit of Crown lands sold in Trinidad. In addition, he felt that relatively high land prices would be necessary to lscourage freedpeople from buying small units of land that would meet only their own subsistence needs. Burnley explained that compared to the free landless whites about whom Wakefield theorized, Trinidad's freedpeople would be

Capitalists in the Neighborhood


more inclined t o settle for subsistence farming than t o develop the economic potential of the island. Free white laborers, h e argued, had a great ambition to possess large estates, being anxious to place themselves in the same situation as to power and influence which they have invariably observed men of large landed property to possess in [Britain] but I do not think that the African has any feeling of that description. In the colonies in which he is settled, he sees only white proprietors of large estates; but looking to his recollections and associations in Africa (and at the present moment one-third of the apprenticed labourers in Trinidad are Africans), I think that his present ambition would be limited to a small garden, and a small and miserable house, something that he could build in three or four days out of the forest in his neighbourhood, which he could remove and replace whenever he require it, and which, as far as regards taste an habit, probably affords to him a pleasanter residence than a house built in the European style.28 Burnley argued that, left t o themselves, free blacks would n o t work unless compelled t o do so, as their natural wants were simple and easily met; that without adequate supplies of reliable labor the sugar industry would die o u t and the colony's white population dwindle; that under these circumstances Trinidad's black population would lose their access t o the civilizing values and example of European culture and enterprise and become entirely dependent o n the imperial government for survival. Burnley conceded, under questioning, that it was possible that a colony populated exclusively by "cottagers, w h o as long as they had the means of subsistence, would be a very happy people, just working when they found it agreeable." However, he warned, such a colony would be a burden t o the "British nation," which would have to bear the costs of its government, as there would be n o surplus produce from the colony for the purpose. H e added that, probably in our West India colonies, which are particularly subject to hurricanes and droughts, the negro population could less depend upon their own exertions than in any other part of the world. Whenever a hurricane has occurred in any of our islands, the proprietors were obliged to draw upon their capital to supply their labourers with food, so that I do not think they could exist as cultivators on their own account, unless there were always capitalists in the neighbourhood to supply employment and food in time of need, and those capitalists will not and cannot exist unless they are sure of commanding labour for the cultivation of their estates at all times. When asked if he thought that immigration would benefit laborers as well as capitalists, Burnley replied, "I certainly think that it would be most conducive t o the benefit of the labouring population, being satisfied that


Chapter z

you cannot have a comfortable and well employed race of labourers in any country unless the proprietors around them are also p r o s p e r ~ u s . " ~ ~ Burnley's understandng of class was clearly inflected by notions of race forged in Caribbean slavery. In the post-emancipation Trinidad he envisioned and tried to sell to the Committee, explicitly black laborers worked for and were dependent on implicitly whlte capitalists. When the Chairman of the Committee observed that Burnley seemed "only to contemplate the establishment of a race of negro labourers in the West Indan islands," Burnley agreed that, to his mind, "the cultivation of the exportable produce of the West Indies can only be carried on advantageously by people of the African or other southern races." He did not think that English immigrants would serve Trinidad's needs, or that Trinidad would serve the needs of England's surplus population as well as Australia d d . Burnley at this point appeared to know little or nothing about John Gladstone's efforts to import indentured Indans for his British Guiana plantations, and when asked by William Gladstone if he knew of Mauritius planters' initiatives in that regard, did not seem much interested, saying that they might be good workers, but that the expense involved in transporting them to the Caribbean from Asia appeared to him prohibitive. Asserting that he thought "the negroes in every point of view preferable," Burnlep went on to include among acceptable alternatives people from the Azores, Canaries, and Cape Verde, "who probably have all of them some African blood in their veins.'' Most suitable of all, he made clear, were free blacks from the United States, who were well-socialized into the role he had in mind for them, and who, "in the uncomfortable state in which they find themselves placed at present in that country, would be very well disposed to emigrate if they were sure of findng their circumstances improved by their removal."30 Burnley suggested not only that such a strategy would save and encourage British capital already invested in Trinidad's sugar industry by supplying a steady source of reliable labor, but that it would also contribute to improving the condition of the free black population of the United States and accelerate manumissions in states where slavery was becoming obsolete. Referring to the effortsof the American Colonization Society to settle free blacks in Liberia, Burnley noted that They are very anxious at the present moment to get rid of their free coloured population. . . . I think therefore that the inhabitants of the United States would be glad to see some foreign colony opened, where at no expense, the free popula-

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tion could be removed, and find themselves comfortable. I am convinced that the Americans in the northern slave states are not attached to slavery, and that many would liberate their slaves to-morrow if they knew how to dispose of them safely afterwards . . . if it were a known and established fact that our colonies in the West Indies presented a sure asylum where free negro labourers could be comfortably located, and furnished with profitable employment, I think that a very large number would voluntarily emigrate from the United States of America and give additional encouragement to further manumissions.31

A few years later, Burnley would himself g o to the United States to raise interest in immigration to Trinidad among free blacks in cities from Boston to Baltimore. A general meeting of the free blacks of Baltimore held in November 1839 deputed Nathaniel Peck and Thomas S. Price to investigate conditions there and in British Guiana, which had sent its own agent, Edward Carberr!; to the United States, also with assurances of work, good wages, and social conditions untainted by racial prejudices. At the expense of the two colonies' immigration committees, Peck and Price toured Trinidad and British Guiana early in 1840, "for the purpose of ascertaining the advantages to be derived by colored people migrating to those places." They reported that they had been cordially and respectfully received by planters in both colonies, and observed that "Agriculturists are in great demand. Every plantation that we were upon (which were many) wanted from 40 to 50 hands, to carry on the cultivation already in o ~ e r a t i o n . " ~ ~ While in Berbice, in British Guiana, they were taken up the river to Plantation Highbury, "in a boat belonging to the sheriff, by invitation from him, to see the Hill-Coolies, natives of the East Indies," whom Peck and Price described as "a hardy race, but yet in a state of ignorance, as they cannot be prevailed upon to quit their idols." They noted that "Trinidad is a fine and beautiful island, and possesses many advantages to the agriculturist, over the United States, but is in want of but few, if any mechanics," and concluded that prospects for free black emigrants from the United States were better in British Guiana.j3 Some emigration from the United States d ~ proceed d to both colonies, but far short of what Burnley, Carberry, and others apparently anticipated. Burnley concluded his testimony by arguing that without government-assisted immigration for British Caribbean colonies like Trinidad, the world's demand for sugar would be met by further exploitation of slave labor in Brazil and Cuba, which would stimulate the slave trade between these regions and Africa, already accelerated since British abolition in 1833. He argued:


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If we have any hope of ever putting an end to the slave trade, it can only be effected by promoting a system of cultivation in our colonies by which we shall be enabled successfully to continue the export of sugar, coffee and cocoa, by the means of free labour alone; and from the attention I have given to this subject, and greatly interested as I am in its results, I do now firmly believe that if the principle developed by Mr. Wakefield is fully, fairly, and without unnecessary delay carried into execution, that those great staple articles of West India produce will ultimately be raised cheaper by free than by slave labor.34

The scope of Burnley's scheme for developing Trinidad in the aftermath of emancipation was comprehensive, but it was also tightly integrated. It was predcated on racialized and gendered images (of the childlike and irresponsible but teachable African) and assumptions that he may have shared and which in any event he deployed to appeal to a diverse audence animated by a range of interests and concerns.35 Burnley's testimony, like John Gladstone's correspondence and schemes about I n d m labor, indicates that abolition enabled some colonial and metropolitan entrepreneurs to articulate, to their own ends, the financial, labor, and material resources of empire with reformist and civilizational ones. Burnley used the language of civilization and uplift, of abolition and reform to argue that the imperial government should give him a loan-and he was, in the long term, entirely successful in achieving this end, although the laborers were to come primarily from British India rather than from Boston, Philadelphia, or Baltimore. Further, such strategic refittings of abolitionist rhetoric to sugar industrialists' ends would critically complicate British abolitionists' subsequent efforts to eradcate slavery and the slave trade worldwide, as the fractious proceedngs of World Conventions of abolitionists in 1840 and 1843 abundantly attest.

Retooling for Free Labor Planters in colonies like British Guiana and Trinidad tried to recruit workers from other British colonies in the region (such as Barbados). However, arguing that freedpeople needed protection from unscrupulous employers and recruiters from other islands, assemblies in colonies vulnerable to such efforts proposed legislation that would restrict freedpeople's ability to emigrate in pursuit of the higher wages offered elsewhere in the region.36In addtion, many colonial assemblies, including those in British Guiana and

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Trinidad, moved to restrict emancipated people's mobility withln colonies as well as between them. They passed rigorous laws to discourage what they called trespassing and vagrancy and to encourage emancipated populations to stay on the plantations they had worked under s1ave1-y.37 Through the 183os, the Colonial Office uias generally unreceptive to such strategies, disallowing proposed colonial legislation when it appeared to give excessive power to lstrict authorities, who invariably were also either plantation owners or managers and attorneys.38 Meanwhile, planters continued to complain that labor was scarce or unreliable, and they continued to demand and plead that the imperial government help them get more suitable laborers from abroad. Early in 1839, the colonial assemblies in both British Guiana and Trinidad proposed that the colonies take out substantial loans to facilitate recruitment and transportation of workers from abroad, most notably from Sierra Leone and the United States. The imperial government disallowed these immigration ordinances along with the coercive colonial labor regulations assemblies submitted for approval.39In conveying the Government's disapproval of one such scheme, the Marquis of Normanby (Glenelg's successor at the Colonial Office, and as Lord Musgrave Governor of Jamaica from 1832 to 1833) noted that regardless of the source from which laborers were to be recruited under the proposal, "more than enough has already passed to render her Majesty's government decidedly hostile to every such project."40 He added that as far as proposals for relaxing restrictions against recruiting workers in India were concerned, "the laws now in force in different presidencies u~ouldeffectually prevent the execution of this part of the scheme."41 In February 1838,John Gladstone, Andrew Colvile, and Henry Davidson wrote to the Duke of Wellington (former Tory Prime Minister) to express their concern over Lord Brougham's plan to demand Parliamentary debate on Glenelg's ill-fated Order in Council of July 1837.4~The trio warned that unless laborers could be secured, the produce of the British Caribbean colonies would be "lost to the Mother Country." They concluded by noting, "We lament to observe that the most unjust and unfounded representations are now resorted to by those who are opposed to the West India interests, in order to inflame the public mind on this subject." They also enclosed documentary evidence of these tactics (including a letter from Arbuthnot to Gladstone informing him that an inflammatory letter on the latter's involvement in the scheme was circulating through town)?3


Chapter 2

Late in 1839, Andrew Colvile wrote to Gladstone that, for the present, the political climate in Britain was unfavorable to further efforts to get immigrant labor for sugar plantations in the British Caribbean. I am to have a meeting on Monday with some of the Guiana folks with the view to our seeing the Colonial Office-I am afraid there is too much activity at present among the West Indians &I wish the question of procuring Labourers may not be pressed farther than we are likely to succeed in obtaining the concurrence of "public opinion" to carry into practice-for the ministers will do nothing that will put a single vote to risk.44

Viscount Howick, eldest son of the second Earl Grey and between 1830 and 1833 Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in Grey's Ministry, was also pessimistic about British Caribbean planters' prospects for getting government's approval for their immigration schemes. Howick had proposed an Abolition Bill in 1833 that called for immediate emancipation. However, his proposal had also intended to curb prospective freedpeople's mobility and ability to buy or occupy undeveloped land in the interest of stimulating productivity in the sugar industry through rationalization of production, and was defeated by Lord Brougham and other Parliamentary abolitionists. He became the third Earl Grey in 1845, and was Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1846 to 1852. In this capacity, he pursued the lunds of economic objectives and labor policies he had proposed for the region in 1833, which would include facilitating indentured labor migration to the British Caribbean from India and el~ewhere.4~ Writing to John Gladstone in 1839 to report on a meeting between a group of "West In&ansn and Lord John Russell (Normanby's successor at the Colonial Office), Howick noted anti-slaveryactivists' influence over colonial policies regarding the British Caribbean. Identifying himself with Gladstone's interests, he wrote that Russell had admitted the urgency of our wants and expressed himself disposed to do any thing that the Government had the power of doing consistently -but this in truth is next to nothing-and unless we can get the anti-slavery party to suggest something or at least pledge themselves not to oppose it I fear nothing will be done.46

However, Howick continued on a more encouraging note, Russell had also shown himself to be flexible on the question of sanctioning immigration from India, banned by this time for nearly eighteen months. He reported that, although Russell

Capitalists in the Neighborhood


at first said that after what had passed in parliament respecting Coolies they could not be allowed yet I went into a discussion respecting them with the view of shewing that the introduction of Coolies might be placed on a principle system that would obviate all the objections that had been stated against them-on the whole tho, he said nothing to commit himself yet I think we made a favourable impression upon him.47

Howick added that Russell had also seemed prepared to allow British Caribbean estate operators to employ Africans captured in slave ships seized bv British cruisers, although he added that the numbers of workers this concession might yield would be ~mal1.4~ Nonetheless, colonial planters' and British entrepreneurs' zeal for immigration continued virtually unabated. And glum as these sugar magnates and their allies were, their lobbying efforts had been effective. As members of the West India association were calling on Russell, the British Guiana Council of Government was preparing for the Colonial Office's inspection a second proposal for public funding of extensive immigration of laborers from other British Caribbean colonies, the United States, Africa, and Asia. In contrast to its response to the scheme proposed earlier in the year, the Colonial Office was sympathetic t o this proposal-and this despite Governor Light's recommendation that it be di~allowed.4~

If at First You Don't Succeed . . In December 1839, 773 "Clergy, Planters, Merchants, and other Inhabitants" of British Guiana signed a petition imploring the Queen and her Ministers to give them the means to recuperate from a debilitating labor shortage precipitated by emancipation the previous year. It was intended to convince the imperial authorities that British Guiana had boundless potential and that for this reason, as well as for reasons of imperial security and prosperity, the British government ought to help the colony's sugar estate proprietors out of the difficulties that Parliament's Act of Abolition had inflicted on them. Extolling the colony's enormous untapped natural resources and enormous economic potential, they warned that prevailing conditions were "not onlv pregnant with ruin to the landed interest of this colony, but prejudicial to the moral condition of the labourers themselves, as idleness tends to increase, and is almost universally the originator and companion of crime." In terms evocative of Gladstone's representations to


Chapter 2

Glenelg, the petitioners claimed that abolition of slavery in 1833 and emancipation in 1838 had so diminished the number of agricultural labourers, that not only are vast tracts of fertile soil lying in this colony unproductive (tracts which, if cultivated, would give support to many thousands of Your Majesty's subjects, and add large sums to Your Majesty's revenue), but that, of the estates in cultivation, some are already deeply injured by the abstraction of labour from the production of [sugar],while other estates must inevitably be abandoned, unless the supply of labour to British Guiana be speedily and largely increased beyond its present extent.SO The petitioners argued that a loan mias essential because the colony did not at the time have the resources it needed to carry out an immigration scheme sufficiently extensive to enable it to recover from the blows delivered by emancipation. However, they assured the imperial government, they were confident that, once underway, the scheme itself would quickly generate profits, investments, and revenues sufficient to pay off not only interest on the proposed loan, but also principal. Extendng their arguments for reform beyond the Caribbean and Africa to Asia, the petitioners urged Her Majesty's government to support their immigration scheme on the grounds of good imperial economic and social policy. They warned that if it did not, "the capital sunk in buildngs, machinery, &c. will be thrown away; and the labouring population, for whose moral advancement such sacrifices have been made by Great Britain and this colony, will speedily degenerate into a state of barbarism." The petitioners also argued that, by stimulating further investment in British Guiana's boundless potential, the immigration loan scheme would give "many thousands" an invaluable opportunity to exchange for the low wages and depressed circumstances to whlch they were condemned at home, the prospect of higher wages, steadier employment, and less onerous work in British Guiana. The petitioners urged that their colony had "substantial advantages to offer to a portion of the vast population of India, as well as to immigrants from other quarters."51 Finally, the petition addressed the objections of their critics in the anti-slavery movement. The petitioners explicitly denied that wages would be depressed through immigration, maintaining that, once equipped with adequate labor, proprietors and new investors would proceed so enthusiastically with clearing land and expandng sugar production that work and adequate wages would be ensured to immigrants and already-resident workers alike. They deplored their anti-slavery adversaries' efforts to dis-

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credit the motives and activities of those connected with British Caribbean sugar industries, and charged that the misrepresentations "industriously circulated in the mother country" by such parties threatened to damage British Guiana's "prospects of improvement and commercial prosperity," and thereby adversely affect imperial revenues and status. Like Gladstone and his associates, the 773 petitioners took the opportunity to "earnestly desire" close and careful scrutiny of the colony's "physical capabilities and moral condition" by impartial observers. Confident that their analyses and actions would be vindicated, the petitioners concluded by entreating the Government to revoke the restriction on emigration from India to British Guiana, and to replace it with an ordinance regulating labor migration in a manner acceptable to and protective of all parties concerned.52 In a letter written to Colonial Secretary John Russell at the same time, the London West India Merchants' Association made the same case. Among the signers were Andrew Colvile, Henry Davidson, and George Robertson, whose estates in British Guiana had received and employed some of the Indian migrants recruited and despatched by Gillanders and Arbuthnot on John Gladstone's initiative. They elaborated on the framework of labor shortage, British Guiana's potential for investment and profit, social crisis and imperial noblesse oblig-e. The Merchants' Association argued that estates in the colony were suffering from an absolute decline in the number of laborers available to them after emancipation, "many of the emancipated labourers having, since the 1st of August 1838, betaken themselves to petty trading, and other employments in preference to the cultivation of the soil, most of the women having altogether withdrawn, and the children affording scarcely any assistance.'' They warned that wages currently being offered in the colony were so high that many good workers would "gradually become independent, purchase land, and cultivate provisions for their own account. and consequently withdraw themsel\~esfrom the cultivation of exportable produce." The Merchants' Association complained that not only were emancipated men and women unreliable laborers, but they were also, in their capacity as parents, unreliable in reproducing labor. They lamented that, "unfortunately for themselves," emancipated youth were not being "trained up by their parents to industrious habits, and consequently, no assistance [could] be expected from them in the cultivation of produce at a future period."53 Like their counterparts in British Guiana, the London Merchants' Association urged the Government to allow interested employers in British Caribbean colonies to recruit workers from Africa and Asia, "those densely


Chapter 2

populated countries whose inhabitants, from climate and other circurnstances, are best adapted for tropical labour." Such a scheme would be mutually beneficial to the Caribbean colonies and India, where "hundreds of thousands of the natives . . . were starved to death in 1838, in various parts of that over-populated country, which is well known to be d i c t e d with a frightful dearth at times." They concluded: it would, therefore, be an act of humanity, on the part of the British Government, to give the inhabitants of those regions access to a country capable of affording profitable employment to industrious labourers for ages to come, and where such dreadful calamities as that just adverted to are utterly unknown; a country where they would also have the means of obtaining religious instruction.54

The religious education was an added benefit, that not only improved the condtion of Indian migrants, but also put to use the churches constructed and maintained through taxation of colonial residents. Labor migration would address the shortage of labor in the British Caribbean, underemployment in India, and the not unrelated problems of immorality and the challenges of upliftment at both ends of the empire. Confronting an anticipated criticism head-on, the association denied that the great distance between Indla and the British Caribbean colonies or the length of the journey from one to the other was sufficient reason for prohibiting Indans from seeking better opportunities in the West, pointing out that the distance between England and South Australia and New Zealand was greater and had not carried great risks to emigrants. They further argued that properly outfitted ships could make the voyage with minimal risk and dscomfort to passengers. Referring to the record of the Whitby and the Hesperus, the committee noted that "no excessive mortality, during the voyage," had troubled passengers, and added that, "by the report of the medical persons appointed by the Government of [British Guiana], it appears that their constitutions are well adapted to that climate." 55 Finally, the Merchants' Association argued that the Government should support colonial immigration schemes and rescind prohibitions on emigration from India in the name of free labor.56They explained: The promoting and encouraging of free emigration to the British West India colonies, would tend materially to the successful working of the free labour system; and would in time render Great Britain independent of foreign slave countries for all tropical productions, and ultimately be the means of putting down the slave trade, and abolishing slavery throughout the world.

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Unless British Caribbean employers were to be assisted with labor immigration on a sufficiently "extensive and comprehensive scale: Britain's wealth and power would be increasingly held hostage by the interests and .policiesof foreign, slave countrie~.~' A Liverpool firm involved since 1818 in trade with British Guiana, and owner of estates in Berbice since mid-1836, told the same story when it reported to the Colonial Office that "the negroes continue to do but little work, and what they perform one day is lost by the idleness of the next."58 The author of the letter added, property is becoming daily of less value; every colonist is alarmed and anxious to get rid of his estates, but there are no purchasers; those who have the means are emigrating with any little capital they h&e left to foreign slave colonies, where they can command labour, and others will soon follow with such stock, stores and machinery as they can remove; thus fresh impetus will be given to slavery and the slave trade, and whilst the colonies of Great Britain will be suffered to decay, foreign slave colonies mill be enriched by the acquisition of British planters of enterprize, industr!; and capital."s9

Such accounts were not only common but increasingly institutionalized as the idiom in which sugar entrepreneurs negotiated concessions-subsides, immigration, and labor legislation- from free trade reformers and imperialists. British Caribbean (and Mauritian) sugar planters and their allies both in the colonies and in Britain inundated the Colonial Office and, through pan~phletsand sympathetic newspapers, the public consciousness with alarming reports of imminent colonial decline and imperial peril. Dire predctions of this kind did not Qsappear after immigration of Indans was resumed and routinized, but were, rather, adapted to prevailing c o n d t i ~ n s . ~ ~ Appeals to Britain's self-proclaimed civilizing imperial mission were important dmensions of immigration enthusiasts' labor projects, which depended on access to labor throughout the empire. In making their arguments for immigration, colonial and metropolitan sugar planters capitalized on an emergent imperial Qscourse regarding social and economic conditions for the majority of people in Asia and Africa, and for free blacks in the United States.6l Their knowledge of social conditions in India, China, and Sierra Leone was derived from justifications for British military, commercial, and missionary incursions into these regions, and was shared by their critics as well as by the imperial administrators whose opinions they were trying to s ~ a y . 6Parliamentary ~ Papers were widely accessible and, together with pamphlets, journals, and learned monographs, were used by people on both sides of the immigration question.63In contributing to


Chapter 2

this archive, colonial planters and imperial entrepreneurs based in Britain were contributing both to emergent imperial hierarchies of race, class and gender and to articulation of imperial policies regardng the colonies. Increasingly, immigration enthusiasts argued that for the degraded classes of native society in other parts of the empire, or in other spheres of British influence, migration to British Guiana or Trinidad represented a valuable opportunity not only to improve their wage-earning potential, but also to improve their moral standng. In addtion, they argued, this was an opportunity that the Afro-Caribbean populations already resident in the colonies were squandering, even undermining altogether. They implied, or charged, that by failing to recognize and seize the opportunities that hard work and wage labor on sugar estates afforded, these freedpeople were jeopardzing other, less privileged people's chances to improve their own condition. By refusing to allow these imperial subjects-and othersto take advantage of these valuable opportunities, imperial administrators and critics of immigration were not only interfering with their liberty, but also denying them those very opportunities for self-improvementthat the British were supposed to be extending to

"Labor Shortage" For the most part, hstorians of emancipation and its aftermath have modfied thls story, elaborating on or contesting the racially charged themes of moral, social, and material crisis, either in these same civilizational terms or through the framework of "plantation economy," its needs and logic-and sometimes b0th.6~However, there are other ways of reading the records than those that are most often repeated. Research (sometimes these very historians') suggests that there was not as much consensus among colonial planters, freedpeople, and officials or among metropolitan abolitionists, entrepreneurs, and bureaucrats as the standard narrative implies. For example, several historians have noted the progressive consolidation of Trinidad's sugar industry after emancipation. According to historian Donald Wood, in 1838 there were 206 sugar plantations in Trinidad. Of these, two-thirds were owned by resident proprietors. In 1866, there were 142 estates in the colony. In 1872, the Colonial Company set up the usine St. Madeleine, one of the largest central sugar processing plants in the world, followed by two others, in Northern Plain and in Naparimas, thereby effectively eliminating the production by open-vat methods of in-

Capitalists in the Neighborhood


ferior muscovado sugar, and accelerating the expansion of cane cultivation by smallholders on the peripheries of the sugar estates and the consolidation of industry. In 1896 there were only 52 sugar plantations in Trinidad, and in 1936 that number had dwindled to 32. By 1959 "the sugar industry was in the hands of five ~ o m p a n i e s . "After ~ ~ emancipation, the plantation system seems to have developed in such a way as progressively to displace a large group of small-scale producers (a group that might have been expanded to include the freed population) and consolidate the power and prestige of some plantation owners controlled increasingly by metropolitan capital. In addition, historian Kusha Haraksingh has argued that, far from fleeing the sugar estates in revulsion after emancipation, in Trinidad freedpeople were often pushed off, evicted by rationalizing plantation owners eager to eliminate from their work forces those deemed least productive-women, the elderly, children, the infirm -and to shift some of the costs of reproducing their labor to the laborers and their families.67 Official records indicate that, while Colonial Office personnel eventually accepted claims of labor shortage and helped develop policies predcated on post-emancipation labor shortage in the British Caribbean, they were not always persuaded by planters' representations of their plight and read the data they generated in various ways, at different times, and under different circumstances. Constellations of other variables and agendas intersected to make both labor shortage and indentured immigration respectable in the 1840s. For example, in a letter to Governor Light of British Guiana, John Russell, Colonial Secretary, rejected allegations that recently emancipated men and women had become lawless after emancipation, as suggested in a petition from British Guiana lobbying for both government subsidzed immigration and the reopening of India and Africa for labor recruitment. Russell observed: None of the most inveterate opponents of our recent measures of emancipation allege that the negros have turned robbers, or plunderers, or blood-thirsty insurgents. What appears from their statement is, that they have become shopkeepers, and petty traders, and hucksters, and small freeholders; a blessed change, which providence has enabled us all to accomplish.68

Far from sharing petitioners' alarm at thls turn of events, Russell argued that they indicated that the Act of Abolition had already gone a long way toward fulfilling Britain's civilizing mission. However, he also noted that the moral victory had come at some cost. "It is important, but still a secondary question: he wrote, "to consider how we can maintain the natural


Chapter 2

prosperity of our West India colonies, promote the cultivation of products for which the climate is adapted, and keep up, if not increase, the consumption of British manufactures." Russell observed that if these objectives were to be achleved through continued cultivation and export of sugar, then the imperial government ought to help facilitate private colonial efforts to pursue and expand these established economic activities. In short, he proposed that Parliament ought to give "encouragement to a large emigration of labourers into Guiana, Trinidad, and other colonies, with a view to introduce a large population" so that the ratio of land to labor would approximate that of more densely populated Caribbean colonies like Barbardos, not because there was to his mind a shortage of labor for continued cultivation, but rather because there might be a shortage for its proftable expansion. Labor had to enable accumulation of capital. Other research raises questions about the conviction, evident in both primary data and historical interpretations, that women were particularly averse to field labor specifically and wage labor generally. Taken together, the work of Lucille Mathurin, Barry Higman, Hilary Beckles, Marietta Morrissey, and other Caribbean historians indicates that, since the end of the slave trade early in the nineteenth century, women had formed increasingly significant proportions of field "gangs" on some plantations in some of the British Caribbean colonies, with no appreciable decline in the amount of sugar such estates produced.69In presenting to the Colonial Office his case for importing Indian indentured laborers in 1836-37, Gladstone had professed hmself willing to hire as many Indian women for h s plantations as men-provided they worked in the fields as enslaved women had done, and for lower wages.'O If after emancipation employers offered freedwomen lower wages than men (as Gladstone had proposed in the case of indentured Indian women), freedwomen may have rejected these conditions, taking up food crop cultivation and sales instead-and thus planters may indeed have lost a significant proportion of their pre-emancipation labor force. Whatever its motivations, women's growing -and scrutinized- absence from plantation waged labor forces dovetailed with colonial Baptist missionaries' and metropolitan abolitionists' aspirations for emancipation and freed Afro-Caribbean people. In the years before abolition, anti-slavery activists had condemned colonial slavery for what they saw as its perversion of gender roles: specifically, of conjugal and parental rights and responsibilities among slaveowners and enslaved alike. As the journal of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS) and other such publications

Capitalists in the Neighborhood


indicate, the veterans of abolitionism hoped to see this situation rectified in bustling post-emancipation villages of cottagers, wives and mothers at home, husbands and fathers in the fields and workshops. Wage-earning women field laborers jarred with this vision of domesticity and society grounded in a heterosexual, conjugal household, and sexual division of labor within it. Most metropolitan reformers did not question, indeed applauded the propriety of freedwomen's declining participation in field labor. Like Russell, they interpreted this as a promising sign of progress in the British Caribbean among black men and women "degraded" by slavery.'l Furthermore, at abolition, British Guiana and Trinidad (along with British Honduras) were distinguished among British colonies in the Caribbean for having more enslaved men than enslaved women: ratios of 110112 men per IOO women (in British Honduras the ratio was 162.5: However significant women's removal from plantation labor may have been in other colonies, in these two it may have been less important than contemporaries asserted or assumed. Historian Hilary Beckles has suggested that, "In general, the data suggest that the more developed the colony as a plantation system, the greater the tendency for the normalization of sex ratios, moving from a male predominance under frontier conditions, to female predominance with maturity." 73 In the "frontier" contexts of Trinidad and British Guiana in the 183os, where land would have to be cleared and reclaimed, dikes and canals built and dug before cane cultivation could proceed, employers may have preferred male laborers over women, thus giving added incentive to employers and speculators to seek male laborers wherever they could get them, and push women out of the waged plantation work force. "Labor shortage" was the idiom in which some British Caribbean sugar planters, metropolitan creditors and entrepreneurs with investments throughout the British empire both represented their unhappiness with conditions under which they produced and sold sugar, and negotiated more favorable ones-their commitments to "free trade" (when they pro. ~ ~even as the British Caribbean sugar fessed them) n o t ~ i t h s t a n d i n gFor producers were losing the privileges over labor they had enjoyed under slavery, they were also losing their protected status in the home sugar market. In 1825 Mauritius-grown muscavodo was admitted into Britain at rates previously reserved for British West Indian sugar. In 1836 the rate was extended to sugar produced in India. By the time of emancipation, it was clear that the abolition of duties that protected British colonial sugar-


Chapter 2

against even the cheaper and hgher-quality sugar produced by slave labor in Cuba and Brazil-was imminent. While the labor shortage argument may indeed reflect the anxieties of sugar plantation owners and operators, it also signals both the extent to which these concerns were technologies of plantation sugar production deployed to particular ends, as well as the degree to which their accumulation in the archive was itself a technology, tactically assembled and deployed. The abundance in the two colonies of still-unexploited land suitable for large-scale sugar cultivation inspired some entrepreneurs and planters to invest more political and material resources in Trinidad and British Guiana sugar after the abolition of slavery -investments surely encouraged by the hlgher prices paid for slaves in these turo colonies between 1822 and 1830 than in any other period, and established in the significantly higher rates of compensation paid by the British government to slaveowners there than to those in any other colony. The average compensation awarded former slaveowners in Honduras, British Guiana, and Trinidad was over Eso per slave. The next highest average compensation was paid to former owners of slaves at the Cape of Good Hope and Mauritius (f.34, 11 shillings and 7 pence and E31, 10 shillings and sixpence respectively). In the British Caribbean, those who had owned slaves in the smaller islands of St. Vincent, Grenada, and St. Lucia received the next highest average compensations: approximately f.2~-27,or just over half the average amount awarded former owners of slaves in Trinidad and British Guiana. The average compensation paid for slaves in Barbados, Tobago, Jamaica, and Domi~ L ~ IIn. the ~ ~emergence of Indian indentured nica was between E I and migration as an important imperial response to condtions of free labor and free trade in sugar production, some of the strategies and compromises negotiated under specific and contingent circumstances were written over, while others were privileged, naturalized, and systematized as political economy, labor relations, and history. As Eric Williams noted, "Trinidad's economic potential in comparison with that of the exhausted soil of the older islands made the slave in Trinidad an infinitely more valuable piece of property than the slave in any other West Indan colony except British Guiana." He added that a labor shortage would result from the intention to expand sugar production: The presence of a mere 17,439 slaves in Trinidad and a mere 69,579 in British Guiana changed the whole course of history of these two colonies after emancipation. The labour problem led to the introduction of an entirely new population in Trinidad, which converted the island from a society of small farmers into a typical plantation economy.76 (emphasis added)

Capitalists in the Neighborhood


The ability of some plantation owners in Trinidad and British Guiana to use their imperial connections to propagate the notion that freedpeople would or did handcap colonial development helped to establish these two as leading British Caribbean sugar producers through the nineteenth century." Not all landowners in the two colonies were as enthusiastic about indentured immigration as those in British Guiana who signed the 1839 petition, or members of the West India Merchants' Association in London. Indentured labor was only affordable on fairly large estates, which could provide the housing and medical facilities required by imperial government and colonial regulations. Historian Bridget Brereton has argued that in Trinidad French creole planters were displaced as sugar producers by better-capitalizedBritish-basedor -backed owners during the 1840sand 1870s as a consequence of reductions in protective sugar duties. Cocoa cultivators in Trinidad (among whom numbered French-creoles who had abandoned sugar production to these better-capitalized British-owned estates, as well as Afro-Trinidadians and, as the century progressed, IndoTrinidadians) were unenthusiastic about indentured immigration. Free or unindentured workers and smallholders in Trinidad complained that indentured immigration depressed their wages. They, like some historians, pointed out that even during depressions in the sugar industry Trinidad and British Guiana continued to requisition and get substantial numbers of Indan indentured migrants, who were required to do more work per assigned task than in the past, thereby contributing to deteriorating conditions for In pleadng for imperial help in getting laborers from overseas, planters argued that they were simply responding to conditions created by suddenly empowered former slaves. However, as the precedng pages have demonstrated, proprietors of Trinidad and British Guiana sugar estates made considerable efforts to influence post-emancipation labor conditions even before slavery ended. John Gladstone did not wait to see how former slaves would respond to emancipation before he embarked on his scheme for importing indentured workers from India; he took this initiative after only one full season under apprenticeship. Evidence from planters' own documents as well as from other sources strongly suggests that planters had to negotiate wages, hours, and benefits with their former slaves, and that they objected to their recently dminished a~thority.7~ John Gladstone's correspondence with other planters and their allies was deeply preoccupied with the challenges his estate managers were encountering under free-labor conditions, and he lobbied vigorously for

new laws to replace those that had restricted slaves. In November 1839, Andrew Colvile informed Gladstone that: The accounts generally from Jamaica are better as to the working of the people that they are getting canes planted for crop 1841, but it is to be ascertained yet whether this improvement will continue to the taking off the crops in due season. . . . They write me that they exacted rent where the people did not work for the Estate, which is a beginning-and if we get any proper laws upon that point we may get from rent in diminution of the high money wages, and the abandonment of the poor estates will give Labourers to the others-we have very little income however in the meantime.8O

A month later, Howick wrote to share with Gladstone his suspicions that anti-slavery activists were responsible for emancipated people's unacceptable behavior. "By all accounts," he wrote, "the people are worlung better in Jamaica, planting canes for 1841 and paying rents -this change is so sudden & general that I suspect it arises from Orders from the Missionary Societies here & if so it is a frightful power exercised over us."81 Sir Charles Metcalfe, sent to Jamaica as Governor in mid-1839 with express instructions to cultivate a "better spirit" between planters and freedpeople, soon came to the same conclusion. In October 1839, he reported that Baptist missionaries were exploiting planters' excesses to enhance their own influence with freedpe0ple.8~ Official correspondence between governors and the Colonial Office also testifies to worlung people's efforts to assert their own agendas and expectations after August I, 1838. For example, in January 1839, Governor Light informed the Colonial Office that "Attempts had been made to induce the labourers to take a nine-hours' tariff for wages paid on other estates for seven and a half hours' labour."83However, he continued, freedpeople were not easily victimized by calculating and ill-advised employers. He observed: I have every ground for asserting that where the labourers did not all, or in great part, quit the estates after such proposal, they have borne it in mind, and have shown their feeling by indifference to their employers: the natural result has been a diminished crop. . . . Where tact, judgment, and conciliation have excited a corresponding feeling, steady labour is obtained; and I could mention more than one estate that has made more sugar this year than in the most favourable years of apprenticeship.84

At certain junctures and under certain circumstances, emancipated people were sometimes able to use their resources and position in the labor

Capitalists in the Neighborhood


market to secure more favorable work and living conditions from reluctant employers. However, this does not mean that planters were obliged to make long-term concessions to the changes wrought temporarily by emancipation. Nor does it mean that emancipation left planters and their investments at the mercy of freedpeople. Planters represented freedpeople's post-emancipation activities in ways calculated to persuade the imperial government to continue to protect British Caribbean sugar industries and the British capital long invested in them. Sugar planters' interpretations of freedpeople's actions profoundly influenced imperial administrators' and legislators' assessments of post-emancipation labor condtions, and those of historians as well. Protectionist entrepreneurs argued that abolition had conferred on emancipated people a monopoly on labor that they had been exploiting to the ruin of planters, the rest of British Caribbean society (themselves included), and the British empire as well. Such representations of postemancipation conditions magnified emancipated people's power and re'sponsibility, privileging the "labor question" over the question of profits (for example) in accounts of the condtions under which sugar was produced in Trinidad and British Guianaeg5In the process, they also elided the possibility that conflict among planters itself contributed to the conditions that so alarmed some and, as government concession on immigration attests, so empowered others. In moving to restrict freedpeople's mobility within and among British Caribbean colonies, resident planters may have been trying to protect themselves from labor-poaching rivals based in metropolitan Britain- better-connected and more resourceful men like John Gladstone, for example. Most colonial despatches and other evidence included in Parliamentary Papers on post-emancipation condition strongly suggest that after August I, 1838, freedpeople d d not stay to work on estates, but rather moved about in search of better wages, or into other occupations altogether. However, reports on the subject from observers in the British Caribbean on the subject were not unanimous. For example, in September 1838 Governor Light wrote Glenelg that "a dsposition to remain on the estates where the labourers were located is general; change of location has been commonly confined to those who, in their state of slavery or apprenticeshp, had been removed from their original re~idence."~~ Official despatches and other such sources are more ambiguous about freedpeople's tendency to leave plantation labor than some historians have conceded.87Together with reports from colonial critics of immigration


Chapter 2

and analyses by metropolitan opponents, the hints of dssension on the subject among imperial administrators suggest that all parties' responses to emancipation were far more complex-fragmentary, tactical, and even contradictory-than most observers and historians have recognized. If freedpeople abandoned certain plantations, it does not necessarily follow that they were rejecting plantation labor either in favor of indolence, as planters' writings and testimony claimed, or in favor of self-employment or small-scale cultivation, as hstorians who follow William Green's analysis have assumed. Emancipated people may have left plantations because leaving freed them from planters' threats of eviction and thereby enhanced their ability to win better wages and hours. They may also have left in pursuit of higher wages offered by owners and managers of rival plantations. If this were the case, then laws to limit their mobility framed by planterdominated Trinidad and British Guiana legislative councils may have been directed against some labor-seelung employers, as much as they were drected against freedmen and -women. While planters and others in the colonies were lobbying the Government for immigration loans, their allies in Britain were doing their best to bring about the same end. The West India Association was assiduous in supplying the Colonial Office with statistical evidence and eyewitness reports of declining sugar production and of deteriorating economic and social conditions in the British Caribbean since emancipati~n.~~ Official despatches and returns from colonial governors generally corroborated planters' claims of declining production, although reports from these quarters on the social and long-term economic impact of the decline varied widely. Planters attributed this almost entirely to the effects of emancipation. This strategy was vindicated in the publication of the findings of the Parliamentary Committee appointed in 1842 to examine the condtion of the West India colonies. This document affirmed planters' analysis of conchtions and contributed substantially to authorizing and monumentalizing the labor shortage and the corrective strategy of immigration for which planters like Gladstone had been lobbying.89 Making a colonial labor shortage was a complicated business. It involved mobilization of a battery of dscursive resources, as well as transformative interventions in material conditions (colonial legislation and commodification of customary allowances, employer collusion regarding wages and task sizes, strikes by workers). It also involved the emergence of a new, post-emancipation hierarchy of labor imagined in an imperial framework, and based at this conjuncture on the presumed cultural af-

Capitalists in the Neighborhood


finity and shared history of metropolitan and Caribbean imperial subjects, black and white, and on the absolute alienness of other imperial subjects. There was nothing inevitable about Indan indentured migration to the British Caribbean. If Trinidad, British Guiana, and (to a much lesser extent) Jamaica had not been imagined and represented as they were, there would have been no call for Indian indentured immigration. If the price of sugar had not been made such a pressing issue in the early 184os, British legislators, bureaucrats, and reformers of domestic and colonial labor conditions might not have been persuaded by the labor shortage thesis. If the shortage had not been cast in terms of freedpeople's racial and social inadequacies, Indian indentured migrants and their descendants might not have been cast the ways they were either?O The migration and its representations were scripted in a particular moment of convergences.

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But it was a beautiful piece of writing. The opening paragraph, however, in the light of later information, strikes me now as ominous. He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, "must necessarily appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings-we approach them with the might as of a deity," and so on, and so on. "By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded." etc., etc. From that point he soared and took me with him. The peroration was magnificent, though difficult to remember, you know. It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. It made me tingle with enthusiasm. This was the unbounded power of eloquence-of words-of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases. -Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness1

THIS CHAPTER CONSIDERS two imperial administrators' responses to colonial and metropolitan sugar interests' allegations of post-emancipation labor shortage and pleas for government aid in addressing it. The first is Henry Light, who, after thirteen months' experience in Dominica, became Governor of British Guiana in June 1838 just before abolition of Apprenticeship was to take effect. The second is Lord John Russell, who became Colonial Secretary in 1839.~The chapter focuses on their correspondence regarding the December 1839 immigration loan ordnance passed by British Guiana's Combined Court and endorsed, as we saw in the last chapter, by a petition from a large number of the colony's commercial and planting interest^.^ Russell was receptive to it, in spite of Light's strong recommendation that it be disallou~ed~ and he went to some trouble to explain hls willingness to approve it.5 Thls correspondence between Light and the Colonial Office suggests some of the dfferences in outlook and circumstances that distinguished imperial policy malung in London from administration at the colonial level. These documents also suggest how, in the case of Crown colonies

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like British Guiana and Trinidad, the Colonial Office's legislative prerogatives could enhance the influence that both entrepreneurs and their critics in Britain (in the anti-slavery movement, for example) could have over articulation of imperial policies. The chapter ends by turning to the manner in which the primary body of sources on Indian indentured migration was generated out of such documents as these, and out of the various commissioned reports from the Dickens Report of 1838 to the Sanderson Report of 1911. It hghlights the process whereby some evidence came to be dscredited or written over (generally documents and reports critical of indentured labor migration), ~ v h l eother evidence (generally that justifying the system of labor reallocation) received the stamp of authenticity and objectivity.

What Light Shed On July 30,1838, two days before Apprenticeship was to end, the new governor of British Guiana wrote to inform the Colonial Office of the state of labor relations in the colony. Recently arrived from a tour of duty in Dominica, Henry Light reported that he d d not expect any disturbances on August I, and that employers had proposed a schedule of work, wages, and benefits for governing labor relations after that date. He wrote: Most of the planters and proprietors have proposed terms to the peasantry which, though not bindng to either party, will be generally accepted. As a beginning, seven hours and a half labour as at present; a tariff of work as before, which industrious people finish in three or four hours, and they will receive extra wages as at present for all excess of work. . . . [Tlhe present terms offered are eight dollars a month, with house, medical attendant, and plot of ground, and no supplies from the estate; or a lesser proportion of money, and all the allowances they now have as apprentices; it is generally believed that the former terms will be most a~ceptable.~

Indeed, Light anticipated that emancipation on August I, 1838 would only temporarily disrupt sugar cultivation, and that as far as labor conditions were concerned, emancipation would give British Guiana planters and investors little cause for alarm. A fortnight later, he reported to Glenelg that even "The least sanguine of the proprietors anticipate little bad final result" from emancipation. He added that he had "made it generally known to those," that in Antigua, whch had forgone Apprenticeshp and fully emancipated the colony's slaves on August I, 1834, newly freed workers had not worked the plantations for three weeks after abolition went into e f f e ~ t . ~


Chapter 3

Returning to Georgetown after a tour of Berbice at the end of August 1838, Light reported that, whle "there were partial absences from labour, and perhaps not quite as much diligence as eager planters may wish," on every plantation he had visited he had found that "work had been cheerfully resumed," and that indeed on several, "double work had been done for extra wages." He assured Glenelg that "the confidence of the planters was beginning to gain ground."8 When, in the first few months following the end of apprenticeship, Light occasionally intimated that relations between employers and those they employed were shaky, he always hastened to reassure the Colonial Office that the colony's prospects remained bright, and that he was confident that time and experience would duly resolve any existing conflicts? "Wherever I ride," he wrote Glenelg, I see the chimneys of the boiling-houses smoking; if there are estates under average work, it may be ascribed to local causes. Merchants could not prosper were industry failing; they would not risk expensive buildings in the districts, in which to establish stores, on a scale equal to those of George Town (almost unknown during slavery and the apprenticeship),did they not augur well for the colony. These are facts which speak for themselves.1°

Light explicitly challenged colonial planters' and metropolitan entrepreneurs' representations of colonial labor condtions and economic prospects. Explaining that with emancipation plantations had lost access to the occasional labor of artisans and domestics, who under Apprenticeship and slavery could be sent to the fields when the need arose, Light agreed that there appeared to be a shortage of labor in British Guiana. He also noted that sugar estates had lost access to women's labor, as Gladstone and Burnley had argued. However, Light did not agree that the colony was on the verge of financial ruin, anarchy, and moral bankruptcy." Light categorically rejected planters' attempts to attribute the alleged labor shortage to moral and social backwardness among freedpeople. He also refuted rumors suggesting that they were wandering from estate to estate either randomly or in search of hlgher wages. Citing reports from stipendiary magistrates, Light asserted that to the contrary, "a disposition to remain on the estates where the labourers were located is general," and that "change of location has been commonly confined to those who, in their state of slavery or apprenticeship, had been removed from their original residen~e."'~ In fact, Light suggested, those workers who &d not

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have personal reasons for leaving estates to whlch they had been attached during Apprenticeship and before were leaving because these estates were badly managed.13 He recommended that "managers and overseers must abandon the use of harsh language, imperious commands or unjust demands:' observing that "otherwise the work on the estates will lacke en."'^ Early in 1839, Light reported that on some estates managers had tried to force employees to work nine-hour days for wages that on other plantations were paid for seven-and-a-half hours work. The governor explained that the colony's laboring population were not naive, that they knew the value of their labor to employers, and that they responded in lund when employers tired to impose unfair wages, hours, or other work condtions. "I have every ground for asserting," he wrote, "that where the labourers did not all, or in great part, quit the estates after such proposal, they have borne it in mind, and have shown their feeling by indfference to their employers; the natural result has been diminished crops."15 In April 1839, Light acknowledged that sugar production had been low in the last season. However, he argued, this had been due to unfavorable weather condtions and the peculiarities of British Guiana's topography rather than to inadequacy of labor. He pointed out that plantations depended on canals and trenches for transporting canes from outlying fields to processing mills. While the 1838-39 season had started favorably with heavy rains, it had settled into an extended drought, which led to these arteries drying up. Because canes could not be taken to the works, the Governor explained, they had to be left uncut in the fields, which resulted in loss of those canes and diminished sugar production overall. Light added that parts of Demerara had been ravaged by forest fires which had threatened some sugar estates, and that these had been saved through the efforts of emancipated estate workers.16 In May 1839, he questioned the criteria used by critics of emancipation and other "interested persons," as evidence of economic decline, arguing that while export tonnage had declined in 1838, the decrease had not been "greater than the events of last year rendered probable."17 He insisted that conditions would settle down and imports, exports, wages and hours would all find their proper place. As Light reported in these despatches, emancipation had freed the bulk of his colony's Afro-Caribbean population from the indignity and injustice of coerced labor, although not from the obligation to work, whether for wages or as self-employed and productive farmers or traders. In these documents, freedom carried social, economic, and moral responsibilities,


Chapter 3

best met through hard work and cultivation of Christian virtues espoused and disseminated by the Church (preferably, by the Church of England; non-conformist missionaries had alarmed colonial governments and plantocracies for decades).18 Unlike most of the planters in British Guiana, Light seemed to welcome and approve of freedpeople's entrepreneurial efforts; he expressed no anxiety on this front. Light also acknowledged that prevailing apprehensions and uncertainties about labor conditions could arrest or retard expansion into British Guiana's uncultivated interior, and that under such circumstances even predcted short-term disruptions in cultivation and declines in productivity could take on alarming aspects, and plausibly appear to jeopardze the colony's economic and social development. Light agreed that to minimize any reservations local and metropolitan entrepreneurs might have about investing in British Guiana, its government needed to assure them that the labor they needed to exploit the colony's productive potential was both plentiful and cheap.19 If his government was responsible for safeguarding freedpeople's interests against employers' assaults, it was also responsible for encouraging economic and social development in the colony. As Light explained to Glenelg: although an ardent admirer of true liberty, and an upholder of emancipation, yet no popular outcry against the proprietary bodies in those colonies with which I had official intercourse has prevented me giving them that support which justice required, without abating one iota of watchfulness over the condition and the rights of the labouring classe~.~O

For British Guiana at the end of the 183os, that meant promoting schemes for introducing large numbers of laborers into the colony. By October 1838, Light had felt the need to instruct the "Freed Men and Women of the 1st August:' in proper deportment of working people in a free labor market. In an address delivered on October 8, Light observed that while he had received many satisfactory reports of their industriousness and "peaceable conduct," he had also heard some distressing accounts. He scolded: I am sorry to say, you do not all prove yourselves worthy of the name of free people-nor do you all respond to the expectations I had formed of you, which were, that after a short relaxation, natural and allou~able,in your new state, you would see the necessity of providing a surplus for yourselves and families, by the full labour of your hands, and thence endeavour to raise yourselves in your grades of society by the savings of your wages.21

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Admonishing guilty parties in his audience for working sporadic all!^, Light demanded: Are you aware to what this leads? the abandonment of estates and your own degradation! Can you expect that owners of estates will supply you with houses and other advantages, or be content with the labour you choose to give in return? Can you suppose they will allour you to have your own whims about work, or your own disposal of time? Can they afford to pay the interest on the first cost of their estates, of the buildings, and constant expenditure to keep the buildings and lands in a state to receive you labour, if they are not assured of a fair portion of vour labour?2 2

He concluded by assuring his audience that, while he would continue to do everything he could to ensure that employers did not take advantage of them, he worried that irregular work habits and idleness of some among them had driven employers to seek immigrants to work the plantations. Light warned that if the guilty parties did not shape up and "give a fair portion" of labor to the estates on whlch they lived, their employers would evict them, "for they must have industrious labourers, or they will be ruined, and you along with them." In conclusion, Light encouraged his audience again to work hard to save their positions: Though additional supplies of labourers will soon arrive from other colonies, yet your masters can find work for them as well as for yourselves, but thej7 will not employ you if you do not sholil that you are worthy to be retained on the estates; they will prefer old servants to new ones, but if the old are idle, the new will assume their place.23

A few months later, he returned to this theme in a formal address to the colony's Combined Court. In a speech aimed primarily against rumors that the colony was in deep financial trouble and headed for ruin, Light again denied that emancipation had compromised employers' authority and power. Signaling his unwillingness to sanction any attempt to develop legislative and juridical instruments for coercing laborers, Light suggested that employers mobilize the resources available to employers of free labor everywhere in their encounters with recalcitrant workers. He counselled his planter-dominated audience to unanimously "resolve to abstain from the employment of any man who, under no bodily infirmity, does not perform the usual labour of the estate to the extent customary previous to the first of August."24Affirming his conviction that "idleness" could not be tolerated in the colony, Light tried to reassure his audience that he shared


Chapter 3

their values. He said, "I defy the most enthusiastic, false, or true philanthropist to say that a day's labour, whlch may be completed in five or six hours, or even in less time, is an oppressive demand on the labourer, paid as he is, and favoured as he is, almost universally, with other privileges, which place him far above the condition of the labourer in Europe.'' Explaining his understanding of freedom and his expectations regarding emancipation, Light further explained that, "The freedom which leads to the mere supply of the common calls of hunger will never raise the descendent of Africa in the scale of human beings, which the friends of freedom so much desire. The idle should return to the lands of their forefathers-the woods, the deserts-for which alone they are fit; society does not want them."25In Light's speeches, as in Gladstone's correspondence and Burnley's testimony, prosperity and civilization in the British Caribbean depended on continued association with Britain and on plantationbased production of staple tropical products, primarily sugar. Here individuals or parties, high or low, who succumbed to cupidity and sought to advance their own interests before those of society threatened not only prosperity and harmony but civilization itself, and at this point government was obliged to step in to check the damage and restore balance and the order of things (as it had when it abolished slavery and terminated Apprenti~eship).~~ Light's correspondence with the Colonial Office highlights some of the ideological considerations, assumptions, and biases that, together with human influences like British Guiana's wage-earning people, anti-slavery activists, and British Caribbean emploj7ers, resident and absentee, shaped articulation and implementation of imperial labor policies in the aftermath of emancipation and contributed to resumption of indentured emigration from India. In concludmg his address to the Combined Courts, Light assured its members that once labor relations settled down, long-overdue efforts to modernize production techniques and to improve colonial infrastructures could proceed. Such efforts would improve efficiency, lessen entrepreneurs' dependence on labor, and, restoring the region to its rightful if eclipsed place in the imperial firmament, "lay the foundation of an empire, with sources of wealth to the mother-country inferior only to her India possessions in the Ea~t."~' Light's buoyant reports of British Guiana's post-emancipation prospects were not always corroborated by those of his counterparts in other colonies in the British Caribbean. Some colonial assemblies were able to dampen governors' ardor for the experiment in emancipation. Three days after Sir E. J. M. MacGregor reported favorably on the prospects for the

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colony under free labor, the Tobago Assembly corrected him in writing, assuring him that "the labouring classes are not improving in habits of industry, and that a feeling of great indfference to their employers' interest is very prevalent among them; results which, however plausibly they may be accounted for by the speculative moralists, have sadly disappointed the sanguine expectations of a great majority of this In Trinidad, colonial officialswrote as somberly about the future of the sugar industry and society in the British Caribbean under free labor. In December, Governor Hill of Trinidad sent to the Colonial Office a set of resolutions adopted by the colony's Council of Government to initiate an immigration scheme at public expense to alleviate the difficulties plantation operators had been suffering since August I. In his cover letter, he assured Glenelg that Trinidad planters' experience to date had "indisputably ascertained that a sufficient force of labour was not to be expected from the negroes to take off the ensuing crop, notwithstanding the high rate of wages paid to them."29In March 1839, Trinidad's government informed Glenelg that "the people of this island have no industrious habits," and urged that proposals for making provisions for poor people in the colony were unnecessary and should "be approached with great caution." In fact, the colonial government suggested, "all legislative enactments should be made with a view to create industry, and a spirit of accumulation, to provide against want," virtues all but unknown to Trinidad's emancipated classes.30 In May, Colonel Mein of the colonial government reported that "the negroes on most estates abstain from work for two days at least in the week," addng, "they are well aware that the master is very much at their mercy." Mein's despatch assured the Colonial Office that wages in Trinidad were "exceedingly high:' and that, while "the necessaries of life" were "very expensive:' workers did not suffer from want. Echoing Burnley's testimony before the Parliamentary Select Committee on dsposal of Crown lands three years earlier, he argued that the Afro-Trinidadan working classes were satisfied "to earn just enough for subsistence:' and "therefore, it may fairly be said that there is no labouring population in Europe who are so well paid, and in every respect so thoroughly independent, as the peasantry of this island." In making this argument, Colonel Mein's despatch contributed to further naturalizing the hierarchization of laborers and labor on racial and national grounds that we observed in Gladstone and Burnley. The despatch continued: The natural result of this state of things is, that the proprietor is the principal sufferer, surrounded with difficulties, and shackled in many cases with accumulated


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debt. Many of the evils resulting from slavery seem now f a h g upon him; he cannot get the necessary labour for his estate, and his labourers are as much independent of him as they were before obliged to be submissive. Finally, Mein's despatch warned that the prosperity which had begun to spread in Trinidad since its release from Spanish mismanagement was beginning, in the wake of emancipation to falter.31 Seen against this background, and in light of Governor Light's representations of colonial sugar planters' and merchants' claims regarding emancipation's ill effects, the 1839 petition of British Guiana planters discussed in the previous chapter takes on additional significan~e.3~ It reflected not only the signers' analyses of their conditions, resources. and prospects, but also their growing impatience with Governor Light. It also reflects the determination and ability of some of the colony's "Clergy, Planters, Merchants and other Inhabitants" to bypass the unpredictable and unreliable Governor and deal directly with higher a~thorities.3~ As it turned out, Light's new supervisor at the Colonial Office, Lord John Russell, was disposed toward being receptive to the petition and to the immigration ordinance itself, and toward chastising Light. The efforts of metropolitan entrepreneurs like Gladstone, Colvile, Davidson, and others had not been fruitless.34 Light explained to the Colonial Secretary that while interest in immigration was general among employers in the colony, the proposed L400,ooo loan for facilitating immigration "would be a job in the hands of a few monied men, who would put at least L30,ooo in their pockets, if it were to be allowed." He also assured his superiors at home not only that there would be a surplus in the treasury the following year, but that it could be "doubled by a proper taxation:' if the Colony's Combined court should see fit to levy such, and that, "except for the purposes of emigration, the wants of the ensuing year may be supplied without any burthen on the planters."35However, Light's opposition to the scheme and his generally sanguine analysis of conditions in the colony drew fire from Russell, who dismissed it on the basis of information received from parties interested in the British Caribbean sugar industry, some of which he enclosed for Light's edification. As far as Russell was concerned, the causes of declining production in the colony went beyond a single bad seas0n.3~

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What Russell Saw Even as he indicated his unwillingness to enter into debates over the effects of emancipation, Russell made it clear that he found the planters' position more convincing (or more compatible) than Light's. He categorically stated that "The decline of produce is unquestionable," and for illustration referred to a return Light himself had sent to the Colonial Office in April 1 8 3 9 . ~ This ~ return compared sugar, rum, and coffee output for the period Jul~r6 to October 10,1839 with those from 1831to 1833, and showed that sugar production had declined by 7,259 hogsheads, rum by 2,014 puncheons, and coffee by more than three-fourths of the amount produced in the earlier years.38Russell also referred Light to a calculation made by the Liverpool West India Association that claimed a L930,ooo decline in the Demerara crop of 1 8 3 9 . ~ ~ Russell was prepared to concede that emancipation had precipitated diminished sugar production, and like Light he rejected arguments that blamed freedpeople for the alleged decline. However, in contrast to the Governor, Russell was unwilling to attribute planters' problems to their determination to keep wages low. As far as he was concerned, the problem was more general in nature and arose partly out of slavery itself. Echoing the planters, Russell argued that people who could subsist comfortably without too much exertion could not be expected to work hard: The state of planter and slave left the West India colonies without a middle class; the more careful and intelligent of the emancipated negros became petty traders. A few acres of ground will produce provisions for a family, with some surplus to sell at market, and bring home manufactured goods; the negros who earn high wages buy or hire plots of land, and refuse to let their daily labour for hire.

However, in sharp contrast to estate owners and sugar merchants, Russell admitted that "There is nothing in this singular or culpable." He added, "Nor, let me observe, were the damage to end here, would the British go\?ernment have any cause for d~sappointmentl'~~ Addressing the insinuations of the British Guiana petition drectly, Russell dismissed allegations that emancipated creoles had become lawless and degenerate. Like Light, he enthusiastically affirmed the success of the moral crusade against slavery: Carrying into effect the religious and benevolent views of the nation at large, it was their object to convert slaves into free men; to rescue their brethren of Africa from the lash of compulsory toil, and establish them as christian [sic] men on the


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soil where they had been transported as chattels, or beasts of burden. On this, the principal question of all, there is, I am happy to say, no room for doubt. None of the most inveterate opponents of our recent measures of emancipation allege that the negros have turned robbers, or plunderers, or blood-thirsty insurgents. What appears from their statement is, that they have become shopkeepers, and petty traders, and hucksters, and small freeholders; a blessed change, which providence has enabled us all to accomplish.41

Like the Governor, Russell appears to have been gratified to learn that freedpeople were engaging in commercial activities, rather than alarmed by the news, as hls petitioners from British Guiana and some metropolitan entrepreneurs clearly were. For Russell as for Light, the Act of Abolition had, with the stroke of a pen and a vote of Parliament, fulfilled Britain's civilizing mission. However, he noted, this moral victory had come at some cost, and he felt that the government was obliged to attend to these side-effects of slave emancipation. He wrote to Light: "It is important, but still a secondary question, to consider how we can maintain the natural prosperity of our West India colonies, promote the cultivation of products for which the climate is adapted, and keep up, if not increase, the consumption of British manufactures." Russell observed that if these objectives were to be achieved through continued cultivation and export of sugar, then the imperial government ought to help facilitate private colonial efforts to pursue and expand these established economic activities. In short, he instructed the already persuaded Light, Parliament ought to give "encouragement to a large emigration of labourers into Guiana, Trinidad, and other colonies, with a view to introduce a large population, similar to that now existing in the island of Barbados." However, as far as removing restriction against indentured emigration from Inda to British Guiana was concerned, Russell noted: I confess I should be unwilling to adopt any measure to favour the transfer of labourers from British India to Guiana, after the failure of the former [i.e., Gladstone's experiment]. Admitting that the mortality of the Hill Coolies first sent may have been accidental, I am not prepared to encounter the responsibility of a measure which may lead to a dreadful loss of life on the one hand, or, on the other, to a new system of slavery.

Russell was equally unenthusiastic about encouraging schemes to send Africans liberated from foreign slave-ships to the British Caribbean to work as free wage laborers. He felt that the numbers were negligible and

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not worth the risk of recapture en route from the coast of Africa to the distant colonies of British Guiana and Trinidad. Besides, he added, "if t h s number should increase, and any large addtion be made to our rich colonies from this source, our whole policy in putting down the slave-trade would be exposed to suspicion." Still, he concluded, "I am not determined to exclude this source of supply, I wish only to point out, that it must be either scanty or suspected," and in either case disappointing to prospective empl0yers.4~ Russell was also skeptical about a third "or more legitimate" strategy for increasing British Guiana's laboring population: Recruitment of free blacks from the United States for emigration to the British c0lony.4~The idea behind this scheme, conceived by an "authority" in Trinidad, was to create an imported black middle class, and thereby oblige "the blacks of the island to resort to field labour for sub~istence."~~ Russell was entirely neutral about the proposal. However, implying that all immigration schemes might represent unduly hasty responses to temporary problems, Russell returned again to British emancipation's civilizing mission. He observed: In course of time we may hope to see the black population, which was kept down by legal oppression and licentious morals consequent on a state of slavery, advance in numbers under the institution of marriage, and in the enjoyment of property. Every increase of numbers, if accompanied by education and civilized habits, will lead to increase of industr): and be productive of wealth.45

Russell then proceeded to question the criteria of progress and decline on which sugar-planting interests built their claims of labor shortage, and their predictions of impending economic, social and moral degeneration in Britain's Caribbean colonies. He wrote: But supposing everything to be done, which, by bounties on emigration, locating captured negros, and natural increase of population, can be expected, it will still remain a problem, whether it would be possible to maintain sugar cultivation to its former extent, for this is what is meant by the term 'prosperity;' while, on the other hand, the term "ruin" is used to designate, not the poverty of the people, nor the want of food or raiment, not even the absence of riches or luxury, but simply the decrease of sugar cultivation.

Further underlining the limits to his own commitment to the goals of proprietors of and investors in sugar estates in the British Caribbean, Russell pointed out that some day soon they might find themselves competing with entrepreneurs producing sugar in India or other British colonies


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where labor was cheap, plentiful and locally accessible rather than an expensive import. "Having made these observations," Russell wrote, "I have to add, that I have no indsposition to allow the attempt to be made to recruit extensively the population of Guiana," adding, "Freedom of labour is the general principle, and restriction should be the e ~ c e p t i o n . " ~ ~ Russell had started his letter by rebuking Light for doubting the gravity of the crisis in British Guiana's sugar industry. He then endorsed Light's assertions that freedpeople's behavior had been gratifyingly exemplary, and that they were not to blame for any decline in agricultural production and exports. Russell questioned the advisability of expensive immigration schemes, especially given the sugar-producing potential of other British colonies where labor was readily available on terms attractive to employers. He had even recognized and questioned immigration enthusiasts' conflation of colonial development and their personal prosperity. In the end, he agreed with Light that, in the interests of colonial residents' moral and material progress, foreign laborers should be made more accessible to sugar estate owners and merchants associated with British Guiana. However, Russell carefully concluded his instructions to Light by affirming that, "in whatever degree I might be dlsposed to yield to the representations of the merchants and proprietors, whether in this country or in the colonies," he was obliged to remind his subordinate in British Guiana, that the happiness of the inhabitants of the colony you are appointed to govern is the chief object. Encourage religious instruction, let them partake of the blessings of Christianity, preserve order and internal peace, induce the African race to feel that wherever the British flag flies they have a friend and a protector, check all oppression, and watch over the impartial administration of the law. By such means our colonies in the West Indies will be made to flourish, though in a different form and a different sense from that in which the term has been hitherto used.47

This ambivalent response to colonial and metropolitan sugar interests' demands for help in importing labor from overseas highlights the extent to which, in the aftermath of the Glenelg-Gladstone debacle, Russell had to be careful not to alienate and antagonize anti-slavery activists, who remained vigilant and influential lobbyists, as Scoble's expose of Gladstone's Demerara exploits demonstrated. In addition, its evocation of Britain's imperial mission to uplift and civilize less privileged people throughout the world, predicts and highlights the strategy for opening up India's labor resources that British Caribbean and Mauritius sugar interests would soon

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fully and successfully exploit. Indeed, the twelve Calcutta businessmen who petitioned the Government of India to protest its suspension of indentured emigration in July 1838 had already used it.48 Russell indicated clearly a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the schemes of the planters; he even implied that he was not committed to the same vision of prosperity that they were. However, he also privileged their representations of crop conditions in British Guiana over those of Governor Light, and the authority and reputation this gave to the former were valuable resources in subsequent disputes over the reality and nature of the "West Indian Labour Q ~ e s t i o n . "At~ ~the same time, the argument that indentured migration gave Indians an opportunity to improve their moral and material condition made Indian indentured migration increasingly appealing, even to those like Russell who had once called it "a new system of sla\lery."

Hidden in Plain Sight In 1839 the Government of Bengal published the report prepared by a majority of the committee it had appointed in July 1838 to inquire into abuses alleged in recruitment and treatment of workers from the province by sugar estate operators in Mauritius (known as the Dickens Committee). This majority report, signed by the Chairman (Theodore Dickens), the Reverend Mr. James Charles, and the solitary Indian member of the committee, Russomoy Dutt, condemned indentured labor migration from beginning to end.50T~vodissenting minority reports were also prepared. The three commissioners in the majority questioned the morality of Mauritius planters' use of laborers from India (whom they said were deceived and coerced into restrictive contracts) against the "African free labourer" of the colony, "who was taken to Mauritius as a They wondered whether, under the circumstances, the former slaves "ought not to be protected from any other kind of competition than that which arises from a really free emigration of other labourers, well enough informed to understand, previous to leaving India, what they are about and where they are going, and willing to better their own condition by expatriation." They also wondered "What would be said in England to a combination benveen landlords and farmers to lower the rate of agricultural labour by importing Irish labourers on contract: and observed, "We apprehend that this plan


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would not be approved of by the people of England."52The majority report recommended that the Government continue to ban emigration from India to the sugar colonies. Two years later, Parliament received the dssenting report prepared by J. P. Grant, one of the two remaining commissioners who chose not to sign the majority report. Grant was a member of the Bengal Civil Service; the other remaining commissioner (Major E. Archer had left the committee while it was still interviewing witnesses) was W. Dowson, who was, through his family's firm, deeply involved in recruiting and supplying Indian indentured laborers to Mauritius planters. Grant agreed that the system of indentured labor migration had been deeply flawed, even abusive, and he endorsed the majority's condemnation of the way recruitment and transportation had been handled.53However, Grant believed not only that the abuses he and the others had observed could be minimized through proper regulation by Government, but also that it was imperative that outright prohibition of the traffic be avoided. He felt that the majority had not adequately considered the implications of prohibition for the rights and liberties of Her Majesty's Indan subjects and for the future of Britain's sugar colonies. Observing that the "prosperity or existence of whole Colonies, and the liberty of tens of millions of British subjects are not light matters," he cautioned that some witnesses examined by the Committee had warned that, if indentured labor emigration from India were to be permanently prohibited, "Mauritius must be ruined, and it is not unquestionable that the mass of our Indian fellow subjects are no longer free men as before."54 Significantly, the majority report and the dssenting minutes d d not arrive in Britain for several years, a delay that activists opposed to the migration noted with suspicion and relish.55When the reports were finally circulated in Parliament in 1841, a member of the party in opposition (Whig at the time) attacked Grant's minute during Parliamentary debate on Indan indentured labor migration and used the majority report and attached minutes of evidence to defeat the Government's proposals that restrictions on emigration to Mauritius be relaxed. The following year, however, indentured labor emigration from India to Mauritius was allowed, and two j7ears later, emigration to Jamaica, Trinidad, and British Guiana was also allowed. In the long run, Grant's arguments and recommendations prevailed and those of the majority were rejected.56Subsequently, the majority report was devalued and overlooked by most of those officials

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assigned to investigate and evaluate Indian indentured labor migration, while Grant's dissenting minute was widely and regularly cited and quoted in their reports and in subsequent historical analy~es.~' This inclination was already evident in the debate on June 22, 1840 at the t h r d reading of Russell's Colonial Passengers' Bill, intended to facilitate labor immigration to M a u r i t i u ~ .In~ ~introducing the Bill, Russell "dwelt on the beneficial results of the emancipation of slaves in the high moral conduct of the negros, and the tranquillity of the colonies." Significantly, he then "alluded to the effects he expected from the expedition to Africa." This was the Niger expedition sponsored by abolitionist Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton and undertaken by the British government "to undermine the slave-trade in West Africa by extending 'legitimate' commerce and the outposts of European civilization to the interior states."59 Having thus established his imperial responsibilities and philanthropic orientations, Russell proceeded to explain that a primary objective of the Bill was to extend to Britain's labor-scarce colonies the benefits of labor immigration, "in order that we may see whether free labour can compete successfully with slave labour in the markets of Great Britain."60 Debate on the question of deleting provisions for resuming emigration from India to Mauritius from the Bill proceeded in imperial idioms of hierarchy and duty favored by Russell and Light. The abolitionist Stephen Lushington had introduced the amendment because he felt that, given the "disgraceful scenes that had already taken place" in connection with the traffic, it would be unwise to lift restrictions on indentured emigration of Indians, "who were unable to protect them~elves."~~ Another member, Mr. Elliott, opposed the amendment measure. He said that he had been employed "to inquire into the condition of the labourers in the east, and he found that in Bengal, the remuneration of the labourer was from two to two and a half rupees per month"-much less than what was offered them in the British Caribbean. After laying out his own credentials, Elliott proceeded to invoke the empire's responsibility toward colonial subjects. H e demanded whether the House would: in such circumstances, prevent a man like this from emigrating to a place where he would be much better paid? But this difference in his wages would not be the only advantage. His country was subject to inundations, and the inhabitants to famine. In 1806 he was at iMadras, when the dreadful famine existed. He had seen mothers


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tottering feebly along, scarcely able to carry their infants, and men dying by the road side by thousands, on their way to the coast to obtain some relief from the rice which the government had shipped.Would they, then, prevent men subject to the chance of such misery from emigrating!62 By 1842, when Russell's successor Lord Edward Stanley proposed the Bill again, invocation of the imperial government's responsibilities toward its less civilized and less fortunate subjects had become a standard feature of immigration enthusiasts' arguments for relaxing restrictions against Indian indentured emigration. In language strongly evocative of Gillanders, Arbuthnot and Co.'s 1836 letter to John Gladstone, one of the Bill's supporters argued that the migration, as regulated under Stanley's legislation, "was most beneficial to that race," because if Indians "went to the Mauritius monkeys, experience proved that they returned to India men."63 Citing information from documents generated by the committee of investigation appointed by the Government of Bengal in July 1838 when indentured migration was banned, and printed in Parliamentary Papers in 1841 in anticipation of debate on Stanley's bill, Elliott explained that, "it appeared that the Hill Coolies returned to India much improved, both physically and morally, having acquired habits of prudence, frugality and industry, with sums of money saved from their earnings which to them were little fortunes." 64 Thirty years later, in 1873, J. Geoghegan, Under-Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Agriculture, Revenue, and Commerce prepared a study of the migration in which he noted that the evidence taken by the Dickens Committee was "very voluminous, but not very valuable to us now." Indeed, he continued, "the most valuable document called forth by the enquiry is the minute of the sixth member, Mr. (now Sir) J. P. Grant."65Few, if any, subsequent reports commissioned by the Government of India or by the imperial government mentioned the majority report of the Dickens Committee, let alone acknowledged its authors' concerns regarding the morality of undermining the position of formerly slave "free Africans" with contract-bound Indans who they believed to be deceived and coerced into emigrating. Echoed and re-articulated by men like Grant, planters' arguments that condtions in the sugar colonies had been deteriorating since abolition and that emancipated people were responsible for the decline became routine assumptions among government administrators throughout the empire. This is clearly evident in the widely quoted, multi-volume study of emigration by Surgeon-Major D. W. D. Comins, commissioned by the

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Government of India in the early 1890s. In his introduction to the volume on emigration to Trinidad, Comins briefly and approvingly reviewed Governor Lord Harris's (1846-1854) administrative and juridical efforts on the "labor question." Comins noted that Harris's correspondence with the Colonial Office (under the third Lord Grey, formerly Lord Howick) showed him to have been "an independent character and an unprejudiced man, always ready to plead the cause of the much-abused colonist^."^^ Comins explained that Harris had "resolutely and candidly exposed the difficulties resulting, not only from the depressed condtion of the market and the poverty of the people, but mainly from the wandering disposition of the emancipated class." Fortunately, he continued, Harris had "clearly perceived the dangers of the situation, but knew where to look for a remedy; that remedy he found in Asiatic immigration, which to all unprejudced minds appeared as the only means of relieving the colony." As far as Comins was concerned, there was no doubt that Trinidad was in crisis, that the crisis derived from the inadequacies and ill-discipline of the "emancipated class," and that indentured migraiton from Asia was the rational s~lution.~' This inclination is again reproduced in the influential report prepared in 1910 bv the Parliamentary committee (known as the Sanderson Committee, after its Chairman) appointed to inquire into the advisability and possibility of expanding indentured labor migration from Inda to parts of the empire that had still not participated in the system. It dealt with the Dickens committee's reports, prepared seventy years earlier, somewhat differently but to similar effect. Noting at the outset that their "chief source of information for this retrospect" to 1870 was Geoghegan's "Note on Emigration from India," the authors of the Report's historical overview followed thls earlier authority in marginalizing the report submitted by Dickens, Charles, and Dutt, and focusing instead on Grant's. "Three of the members of the [Dickens] Committee were altogether opposed to further emigration," the 1910 Report of the Sanderson committee conceded, "but a fourth member, Sir. J. P. Grant, wrote an exhaustive study" of the question of indentured labor e m i g r a t i ~ nIn . ~ this ~ way, the Sanderson Committee's report sidestepped several significant factors. These included the fact that the "three members" included the committee's chairman and that they constituted a majority of the committee. Also erased were the differences of opinion that not only had led to suspension of indentured labor migration in 1838, but had also kept it illegal for three tumultuous years (seven in the case of Jamaica, Trinidad, and British Guiana). The Sanderson committee itself was clearly dsposed to report favor-


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ably on the experiment in imperial labor reallocation. European businessmen and imperial administrators past and present predominated among the eighty-three witnesses whose evidence was reproduced in the minutes attached to the committee's report.69Only three non-Europeans were questioned. None were or ever had been indentured laborers: George Fitzpatrick and Francis Evelyn Mohammad Hosein, barristers, were descended from successful indentured immigrants from Inda, and Alfred Richards, President of the Trinidad Worhngmen's Association, was an Afro-Caribbean proprietor of a cocoa estate that employed thirty to forty non-indentured laborers. The committee's demeanor toward witnesses who objected to emigration of indentured Indans (either on the grounds that emigrants suffered unconscionable abuse and exploitation, or on the grounds that introduction of government-subsidized Indian workers depressed wages for all workers in importing colonies), was hostile and, in the case of hchards, contemptuous and severe. Alfred Rtchards was recommended to the Committee by Thomas Summerbell, M. P., who had appeared before the Committee to represent the position of the Trinidad Workingmen's Party, with which he corresp0nded.7~Brought to England from Trinidad expressly for the purpose of appearing before the committee, hchards was questioned twice. During his first marathon interview of June 24, 1909, which took up a record eleven pages in the printed minutes, Richards alleged that indentured labor immigration to Trinidad depressed wages, that worlung people and proprietors who did not benefit from the immigration were paying an unduly hlgh proportion of the costs associated with it, and that the condition of the immigrants was often substandard or worse.'l Implicitly dismissing the views of those he represented, committee members ignored the substance of Richards's testimony, focusing instead on the form in which it was presented. Specifically, committee members, led by Lord Sanderson, spent the bulk of their time with hchards trying to ascertain whether or not h s allegations could be substantiated by data from sources they deemed appropriate: the report and minutes of the 1897 Royal Commission investigating labor conditions in the British Caribbean, for example, or reports by Protectors of immigrant^.^^ During the second interview, they aggressively pressed hchards on inconsistencies they had discerned between h s testimony and evidence given by reliable witnesses (planters and imperial administrators) and corroborated by several decades worth of official reports, in which they put considerable stock.

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In the cover letter sent to Lord Crewe along with their report, the commissioners noted that, "To supplement the oral testimony which we have thus had the opportunity of eliciting, we have been supplied with a large amount of documentary evidence, comprising returns and correspondence laid before Parliament, and reports (some of them exceedingly \~oluminous)of Commissions appointed to examine the defects and abuses which have from time to time been brought to light in the working of the s ~ s t e m . The " ~ ~commissioners were also supplied with statistical tables compiled for their use, and memoranda from governors of colonies currently importing indentured workers from India regarding laws for governing them. The standards of evidence maintained bv the committee were such as to eliminate perspectives and representations that disagreed with imperial policies. As far as the committee members were concerned, newspaper reports and hearsay were inadmissible evidence, and unfortunately for kchards, h s testimony was based largely on Afro-Caribbean journalists', smallholders' and wage earners' analyses of labor conditions in Trinidad-just the kind of evidence that had not found their way into earlier official reports, and that Sanderson and his colleagues made every effort to keep out of their own report. kchards was obliged to recant some of his earlier testimony as mere rumor.74 Sternly reprimanded by the chairman at the end of the second interview for wasting the members' time and taxpayers' money, hchards threw himself on the mercy of Sanderson's self-appointed court. "YOUmust make an allowance," he pleaded, and explained: V17hen I left Trinidad to come over I had a bad attack of malaria-there is correspondence with the Government, and the correspondence is in the Office-and I was taken off to come over, so much so that I had to bring someone to accompany me on board. I was sick on board and treated on board by the medical man, and I landed here in the rainy season, and coming here right off, at the moment of examination, I was not in possession of all my nerves. That may account for that part of my statement [which was unacceptable to the committee1.75

As the experience of Alfred Richards illustrates, inclusion of unpalatable positions in official archives could be not only limited, but also, once admitted, delegitimized by standards of evidence that required corroboration by documents or individuals valorized positively precisely because they did not contest official policies and the analyses that justified them. When Stanley took over the Colonial Office in 1841, Russell's ambivalence was supplanted by confident and unflinching certainty. Stanley


Chapter 3

himself largely endorsed planters' analysis of post-emancipation conditions, and in November 1842 he proposed that the House of Commons appoint a "select committee to inquire into the state of the different West India colonies, in reference to the existing relations between employers and labourers, the rate of wages, the supply of labour, the system and expense of cultivation, and the general state of their rural and agricultural economy."76 Under his care, the Colonial Passengers' Bill was twice extended to indentured emigration from India- to Mauritius in 1842, and to Trinidad, British Guiana, and Jamaica in 1844-and this, despite the East India Company Directors' and the Government of India's persistent reservations and rel~ctance.7~ Both (and especially the latter) had been central to getting indentured emigration suspended in 1838, and in 1839 the Government of India had introduced Act XIV to ban indentured emigration from In&a?8 However, Stanley effectively bypassed the Indian government in his efforts to give Mauritian and British Caribbean employers access to Indian laborers, sacrificing the relative and troubling autonomy of the former to imperial ends enunciated by the latter. As had been the case in 1838, when Glenelg issued the Order in Council that enabled Gladstone to launch the first experiment in indentured migration from India to the British Caribbean, Stanley resurrected the controversial scheme in imperial labor reallocation largely by executive fiat. In March 1842 (just as Stanley was preparing to introduce his Bill in Parliament) the Court of Directors wrote to the Government of Inda to inform them that, although they had forwarded the results of the 1838 inquiry to the Colonial Office and Parliament, the imperial government was determined to re-open indentured emigration from India. They explained that, "Her Majesty's Government do not deem it necessary to apply for any legislative enactment in the country, with a view to such modification of Act XIV of 1839 as may be found advisable."79 They explained that all measures to protect the interests of prospective emigrants urere to be "mainly left" to the Government of India's "judgment and discretion," adding that the latter were free to "prevent the contemplated change of the law," if it "should consider it hostile to the real welfare of India." The Directors concluded: The primary consideration with us, as well as with you, in this matter is that a project intended to promote the advantage of certain classes of the people of India, by allowing them free command of their labour, shall not be perverted to their injury; and we feel perfect confidence in committing to you the duty of establishing proper safeguards for that purpose.80

Just a Minute


The Government of India was given little real choice but to comply. It passed Acts XV of 1842, XXI of 1843 to repeal Act XIV of 1839 for Mauritius, and Act XXI of 1844 to open indentured emigration to Jamaica, Trinidad, and British Guiana. From this point on, the role of the Government of Inda in indentured emigration was to implement the above recommendations by regulating recruitment in India and transportation of Indan migrants to overseas colonies, and by occasionally investigating the condition of indentured Indians overseas.81 Regardless of the politics of the administrations in which they served, leaders and other authorities at the Colonial Office did not object in principle to the proposition implicit in immigration schemes (and immigration loan schemes) that employers could use their superior economic, social, and political resources to bypass negotiating with Caribbean working people in the free labor market created by emancipation, and impose conditions of their own creation, namely, lower labor costs precipitated by the introduction of laborers from abroad.82Immigration enthusiasts' superior access to and influence over imperial policy makers and opinionforming media (from Parliamentary Papers to the London Times)were not their only resources in the battle over indentured emigration from India. 1nconsis;encies in the free labor ideology espoused by their opponents dissipated the latter's strength and unity of purpose on questions concerning imperial labor policies. Indeed, free labor was such a plastic concept that it could be used to almost equal effect by parties on both sides of such questions, as the next two chapters suggest.

Where Are These Records?

The difficulty . . . is to get accounts written in any detail. The British send out their punitive expeditions against revolting tribes and do not necessarily mention them in the annual colonial reports. But if the revolt awakens public interest, a comrnission will investigate and make a report. This report will frequently clash violently with the accounts of participants, eye-witnesses, correspondents of newspapers, native and European, and persons living in the colony at the time. -C. L. R. James and George Padmore, "Revolts in Africa"

ALTHOUGH SUPPORTERS O F EMIGRATION from Inda were eventually successfulin reinstating thls imperial labor reallocation strategy, their progress was significantly impeded by the vigorous opposition and lobbying of the anti-slavery movement. Thls chapter examines some of the efforts of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS) against sugar planting interests' representations of post-emancipation conditions in Trinidad and British Guiana, and against indentured emigration. Through its official paper, the Anti-Slavery Repmter, the Society vigorously and publicly contested planters' versions of colonial conhtions and their imperial implication~.~ The chapter focuses on the Reporter's contentious use and alternative readngs of the Parliamentary Papers and documents included in them-instances of whlch (tactical deployment of Gillander and Arbuthnot's letter to John Gladstone, for example) we have already seen in preceding chapters. The Repmter's editors took great pains to solicit and disseminate information on condtions in the emancipated colonies from their own correspondents in the British Caribbean, from colonial newspapers, and from respectable colonials not connected with sugar (or cocoa) industries. They used thls information to challenge planters' and merchants' claims that the sugar colonies were in the grip of debilitating labor shortages, and to refute their claims that these shortages resulted from the laziness and back-

Where Are These Records? wardness of the emancipated population. They were also quick to detect and publicize ambivalence in reports prepared by official committees of inq~iry.~ Anti-slavery readngs of Parliamentary Papers and other collections of documents and data provided in the course of colonial and imperial government indcate points where objectives of imperial policy makers, colonial administrators, and investors in British Caribbean sugar articulated with each other as well as with those of anti-slavery activists who capitalized on these intersections and confluences to make their own interventions in the civilizing mission of empire. These anti-slavery readings suggest that imperial policy makers chose to base policies regarding the post-emancipation British Caribbean primarily on information and analyses generated and promoted by people involved in its sugar industries, and that in the process imperial administrators sanctioned and authorized particularly situated accounts of post-emancipation labor conditions in Britain's sugar colonies. They also devalued and excluded alternative perspectives from the Parliamentary Papers and returns, colonial despatches, and department minutes that comprised the official archive on imperial policies regardng Trinidad and British Guiana, and indentured emigration from India. Historians and others who have relied primarily on these lunds of sources have accepted and perpetuated the privileged narrative generated when the interests of investors in the colonies' sugar industries intersected with those of imperial administrators increasingly committed to the rhetoric of free trade and imperial mission. Despite their marginalization in official histories, anti-slavery activists and analyses contributed in important ways to articulations of places for indentured labor withln emerging dscourses on slavery and free labor, metropole and colony, colonizer and colonized. This chapter shows how specific political considerations and struggles influenced inclusion or exclusion of evidence and its interpretation, and how by extension these historically contingent conditions influenced not only concrete policies (in this case, those of British imperial governments) but also crystallization of categories of race, labor and gender that have informed idioms and representations of political struggles ever since.


Chapter 4

British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society: Goals and Strategies The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (hereafter BFASS) was formed by veterans of the anti-slavery campaigns, primarily by members of the British Anti-Slavery Society associated with the radcal Quaker abolitionist Joseph Sturge, at a meeting of "Delegates and Friends to the Cause," April 17-18,1839, in Londom4 The Constitution pledged the new society's dedcation to "the universal extinction of Slavery and the Slave-trade, and the protection of the rights and interests of the enfranchsed population in the British possessions, and of all persons captured as slave^."^ The Constitution also affirmed the BFASS's commitment to using "means of a moral, religious, and pacific character" to achieve its stated objectives. Foremost among these was To circulate, both at home and abroad, accurate information on the enormities of the Slave-trade and Slavery; to furnish evidence to the inhabitants of Slaveholding countries not only of the practicability, but of the pecuniary advantage of free labour; to diffuse authentic intelligence respecting the results of emancipation in Hayti [sic], the British Colonies, and elsewhere.

The Constitution also pledged the BFASS's support to "the use of freegrown produce, as far as practicable, in preference to Slave-grown, and to promote the adoption of fiscal regulations in favour of free labour." An annually elected standng Committee, together with the bi-weekly Reporter, were to be the primary vehicles for this effort, the latter in the capacity of "official organ" of the ~ociety.~ The goals adopted at the meeting; and the centrality of information gathering and dissemination to the strategies approved to acheve them, indicate that the concerns that motivated these abolitionists were not limited to the abolition of slavery in non-British parts of the world. These activists were also anxious to see abolitionists' free labor critiques of slavery vindicated by superior productivity of uncoerced labor in the former slave colonies, and in improved morals and habits among freedpeople. In addition, the Constitution implicitly suggested that the BFASS's founders recognized the limits of their own and the extent of their opponents' influence over imperial policy makers. It indcated that these reformers shared with their opponents and Government officials analytical assumptions and expository strategies that privileged certain forms of argument and standards of evidence. They also recognized that access to and inclusion in pub-

Where Are These Records?


lic records, especially officially sanctioned ones, were important to their causes. They continually presented Colonial Secretaries with petitions and memoranda, and whlle some of these certainly made it into Colonial Office records, there is evidence that by 1838 Permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies, James Stephen was declining to accept them, thereby shutting at least some of these out of government archives alt~gether.~ The reformers who met in London on April 17 and 18 suspected that, unless they secured and circulated "accurate" information about social, economic, and political conditions in the newly emancipated sugargrowing colonies, these could revert to what had been before Abolition. They were determined to ensure that evidence unpalatable to their opponents comprise part of the public record, even if it was excluded from the Parliamentary Papers printed and used for legislative purposes, or from the growing collection of official documents that reportedly were propping up the unstable walls of the Colonial Office. In keeping with this commitment to contesting planters' and merchants' representations of colonial conditions, the Reporter's editors filled the journal with accounts and data that flatly contradicted reports supplied by parties interested in British Caribbean and Mauritian sugar industries, with alternative interpretations of those reports of colonial and imperial committees of inquiry, or correspondence between colonial governors and Colonial Office included in published Parliamentary paper^.^ The Reporter's editorials also frequently challenged government officials to justify their policy recommendations.

"What have they reported? and what is their authority?" When R. Vernon-Smith, Russell's Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies, brought his motion for reopening indentured labor migration from India to Mauritius in the House of Commons in February 1840, denunciations appeared immediately in the Reporter. The journal charged that the Government's professed determination to limit the migration to Mauritius was unfeasible and dsingenuous, and questioned the Government's motivations for adopting a new position on the subject. The author of a lengthy article on the topic argued that Mauritian planters' complaints of labor scarcity were belied by the latest returns recording the island's produce. According to him, production had not declined. Indeed, it had increased since emancipation. "Yet they cry out for more labour," the author complained. He added, referring to a recent meeting between the


Chapter 4

BFASS committee and the Colonial Office, "we fear they are to have it, from what passed between Lord John Russell and the deputation, though he evidently could not assign sufficient rea~on."~ Implying that Russell was withholdng from public scrutiny the information on which he had based his decision to support re-opening of indentured labor migration from India to Mauritius, the author observed that the Colonial Secretary spoke indeed of some gentlemen who had been through Mauritius, and had brought him viva voce accounts of the happiness of the Coolies; but surely it is not worthy of an enlightened statesman to legislate on such a ground as this. Who are these gentlemen? What have they reported? And what is their authority? If all this is to be withheld from the public, Lord John Russell cannot complain of us if we suspect it to be a trick of interested parties to delude him.

The author insinuated that Russell had allowed himself to be persuaded not by empirical evidence or argument, but rather by blandishments and incentives that the anti-slavery movement could not, indeed would not offer: We have heard of certain gentlemen deeply interested in the trade with the Mauritius, whose dinners are splendid and their wines delicious; and although we entirely acquit the present colonial secretary of being thus influenced, we have reason to know that colonial secretaries have dined with them before now, and that their magnificent hospitality has been in no remote connexion with the legislation for the island at former periods. In Lord John Russell's own judgment and sense of justice we have much confidence; but we fear this is a case in which he has not exercised his own judgment, but has suffered himself to be led on by others whom he is willing to oblige.10

As this article illustrates, the Repmter's correspondents and editors mined and mobilized suspicions that wealthy and powerful lobbyists unduly and illicitly influenced the policies drawn up by imperial administrators. Indeed, their mission on behalf of the emancipated people of the British Caribbean and Mauritius derived some of its urgency from broader reformist conviction~that "Old Corruption" needed constant surveillance and restraint." The Reporter article also charged that information hostile to the cause of Mauritius planters and their allies in the Home Government had been suppressed. The author noted that both Parliament and the GovernorGeneral of Inda had suspended indentured emigration from India, independently of one another. He observed that for the Governor-General to

Where Are These Records?


prohibit the trade strongly suggested that "the atrocities of the Cooliehunters and kidnappers must have become the subject not only of public notoriety, but of official report."12 He reasoned that, "there must be somewhere minutes and records of the facts on which this measure was founded, and of the investigations by which those facts were ascertained," and demanded: Where are these records? They have never been laid on the tables of parliament; and we are fully justified in asking, why not? They have certainly more title to that distinction, and are of much greater importance to the British public, than much of the trash which Messrs. Burge, Gladstone and Co. have been permitted to deposit there.

The author went on to suggest that it was inconceivable that Russell would recommend resumption of indentured labor migration from Inda without "letting parliament and the public know what the reasons were which induced the governor-general of India, on his own responsibility, to stop it."13 The investigation to which he referred was of course that of the Dickens Committee, and the documents those majority reports and minority minutes discussed in Chapter 3. The author asked "whether the colonial secretary has himself seen the documents to which we have referred; and whether the home government even, has ever been favoured with a copy of them.'' He added, "Strange rumors we have heard that the official papers in question have never been sent to Downing Street at all; which, if the case be so, is a circumstance altogether unaccountable, and surpassing our humble comprehension." The author suggested that some Member of Parliament might be inspired to call for their immedate production, that the documents might have arrived in London, even if they had not yet been seen in Downing Street, and that they could be summoned by a vote of Parliament. He asserted: To us it seems that there can at all events be no further legislation on this matter till they are forthcoming. It would be infatuation to proceed in such a business in the dark. Things frankly told may be bad enough; but, when they are so carefully concealed, nre have full right to suspect that they are frightful beyond endurance. What has taken place in India the public has a right to know, and must know, before any further I'acili~be given for the exportation of the Coolies.14

In keeping with this concern with documentation, the Reporter combed published government documents for evidence that planters' claims of impending disaster were exaggerated and dsingenuous, and printed such


Chapter 4

evidence as it found. Governor Light's communications to the Colonial Office in 1839 and 1840, visited in Chapter 3, were particularly useful in this regard.

The Reporter and Official Documents: Accentuating the Positive More than once, the Repmter reprinted and referred to the same handful of Light's despatches to the Colonial Office: one explaining that the decreased sugar production in the 1838-39 season was due to healy rain followed by drought, another that praised emancipated workers' heroic efforts to bring a destructive forest fire under contr01,'~ and others that generally testified that they were deporting themselves most satisfactorily in their new condition, buying land, and raising and selling produce, despite the obstructiveness of some recalcitrant planters. Similarly, in another issue the Repmter informed readers that sixty-three emancipated laborers in British Guiana had jointly. -purchased a five-hundred-acreestate "called North Brook, for the sum of ~o,ooodollars, or L2,ooo sterling-something more than L3o each, and all saved since emancipationl'16~ h e s new e landowners had petitioned L?ght to "intercede with her Majesty, that [they] m,ay call the estate Victoria." The Repmter edltors added, approvingly, "They ask also for the help of the crown surveyor, to prevent all lsputes in dividng land into equal allotments, on which they say they mean to build cottages, and they promise to work on estates as before. They will be freeholders of about nine acres each." l7 In 1842, the Repmter reprinted a despatch Light sent to Russell to discount disparaging accounts of emancipated classes included in a recently published report on British Guiana written by Sir Robert Hermann ~ c h o m b u r an ~ , observer whose work is often cited in nineteenth-century histories of the region. Light had explained that estates' outputs had declined not "in consequence of the indolence of the black labourer," as Schomburg was claiming, but rather because people who used to be tied to the estates were now buying and cultivating their own land. In fact, Light had continued, a recent case of such purchase had "added greatly to the labour of the neighbouring estates, by congregating persons together who are enabled to share their labour with those estates, a n d d l carry on the cultivation on that which has been purchased." Light had attached a table that showed that sugar, molasses, and coffee production in 1840

Where Are These Records? was greater than it had been in 1839 (by 1,874 hogsheads, 3,865 cases, and 1,772,100 pounds respectively). Pointing out that the increase had occurred in the last two quarters of 1840, Light had then concluded, "the season was extremely unfavourable in the two preceding ones; the predictions of greater decrease in this year than in 1839 have proved false-predictions have ceased." ls In deploying the correspondence between Governor Light and the Colonial Office in this way, the Reporter was implicitly affirming the weight and gravity of those eyewitness accounts, opinions and analyses found therein. Furthermore, such deployments by extension also affirmed the authority of the other data (covering topics ranging from crop yields, acreage under cultivation, wages, availability of labor, exports and imports to mortality, and birth rates by region and race) generated in the course of colonial governance and published in Blue Books and Parliamentary Papers, that made up the official government archive on post-emancipation conditions in the British Caribbean colonie~.'~ At the same time, and deliberately, the Reporter's columnists and editors used some selections from this archive against other select portions which they sought to discredit as corrupted by the influence of planters and their sympathizers. For example, the journal noted in 1842 that the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to investigate the condtion of the British Caribbean colonies had generally stuck t o the representations and analyses advanced by sugar planters and merchants.20The Reporter noted that the Parliamentary Committee's report had affirmed that "distress" arising from "diminished production" existed in the entire region, but especially in Jamaica, Trinidad, and British Guiana. The BFASS journal reported that the Committee had agreed-with planters-that the causes were "the difficulty of obtaining steady and continuous labour, and the high rate of wages paid for such labour as can be obtained,'! and that this was attributable to emancipated people's having abandoned plantation work for other work, to the "ease with which they can live in comfort and acquire wealth, to the competition for labour among the planters: and to the "easy terms" on which they were able to buy and cultivate their own land.21The Reporter added that the Parliamentary Committee had recommended that Parliament and the Colonial Ofice approve the very remedies that colonial sugar planters and their allies had lobbied for since at least emancipation: immigration and revision of codes governing terms under w h c h labor contracts could be made. Having noted the similarities in the Parliamentary Committee's conclusions and planting interests' propaganda, the Reporter article went on to


Chapter 4

point out that, "Though not included in the resolutions, it is admitted in the report, that the evidence taken before the committee, both as to the extent and the causes of the dstress which is said to exist in the West Indies, was ~onflicting."~~ The article observed that the Parliamentary Committee's report had itself conceded that some of the witnesses interviewed had testified that, others' testimony to the contrary, "'the great advantages which have resulted from emancipation have been unchecked and unalloyed by consequent evils,' and the distress, such as it is, is temporary in its character." Finally, the Repmter pointed out that the Parliamentary Committee had concluded its report with the following observation: "In recommending those resolutions and evidence to the attention of the house, your committee feel bound to state, in conclusion, that they cannot regard the present state of the West Indian colonies, unsatisfactory as it is, with any feeling of despair."23In drawing attention to the Parliamentary Committee's lukewarm endorsement of planters' development plans for post-emancipation Trinidad, British Guiana, and Jamaica, the Reporter article rallied BFASS members against themselves despairing over the Parliamentary Committee's report, and around the possibilities for continued, effective intervention on behalf of emancipated people that the Committee's ambivalence represented.

Challenging Planters' Claims of Labor Shortage The Reporter d d not stop at noting and using for its own purposes such instances of ambivalence in official documents. The edtors also tried to dscredt sugar interests' representations of post-emancipation conditions. Early in the Reporter's career, the editors wrote, "the immigration scheme, as now proposed by the planters, is one to which we cannot declare our adhesion. On the contrary, after the most careful and dispassionate consideration we have been able to give to the subject, we are constrained to pronounce our decided and unequivocal disapprobation of it." Indeed, they added, "we do not admit the allegations on which it is founded."24 Regarding planters' allegations of declining agricultural outputs following emancipation, the author noted, "first, that although there is a deficiency, as every body expected there would be, yet upon the whole it is not large, but much smaller than might have been anticipated. And secondly, that the deficiency is by no means universal, or even general."25The Reporter sought to demonstrate that planters d d not lack labor for maintaining

Where Are These Records? existing estates and production levels, but rather that complaints of labor shortage were most insistent in colonies like British Guiana and Trinidad, where it was possible to expand cultivation into still-uncleared areas, and where there was considerable interest in doing so. One contributor to the journal approached this task by dssecting articles recentlv published in the Colonial Gazette, the Morning. Ch~onicle,2~ and "Reflections of West India Affairs," an influential pro-planter, proimmigration pamphlet bv Sir Edward Cust. All of them, he assured his audience, were "sources of authentic information as to the views of the planters on this subject" (emphasis added).27The Reporter author noted that, "There is a loud cry of a deficiency of labour consequent on emancipation, and immigrants are wanted to compensate this. Then we are told that cultivation may be much extended-that some of the colonies are only cultivated in patches, and that one of them by itself (Guiana) could furnish sugar, cotton, coffee, and spices sufficient for the whole empire; and immigrants enough are wanted to do all this." He continued: A writer in the Colonial Gazette tells us, that large supplies of labourers may be had from the American continent: "from fifty points between Rio de Janeiro and Boston they would flock to the British colonies, if invited by the call of justice to the negro"; but this, he adds, "would still be inadequate to the demand for labour."

The Reporter correspondent concluded, "It is not a few hundreds nor a few thousands that can satisfy the planters' demand for immigration; they are calling for hundreds of thousand^."^^ The logic of this line of the AntiSlavery Committee's and Reporter's reasoning was to call into question British Caribbean planters' predictions of economic collapse in the colonies, and the analyses that attributed this alleged decline and imminent fall to labor shortages, themselves a result either of emancipated people's withdrawal from field work, or of their monopoly on colonial labor markets. If planters in British Guiana and Trinidad envisioned investing in expanding sugar production, the anti-slavery activists reasoned, the rhetoric they were deploying in their attempts to secure immigration needed to be read with care and some skepticism. A January 1842 article in the Reporter submitted to just such close scrutiny a report entitled "A Cry from British Guiana for help," recently printed in the Colonial Gazette and written by someone the Gazette's edtors called "an intelligent inhabitant of the colony."29The Reporter asserted that the "broad facts" on which the Gazette's correspondent based his analysis were "far indeed from sustaining his conclusion" that the colony was on


Chapter 4

the verge of ruin. The Reporter asked readers to imagine what these facts might be. "So many bankruptcies? So many estates to be sold? So many acres going out of cultivation?Nothing of the lund." The article continued: The "broad facts" stated are, that there are so many rivers and creeks, with so many miles of navigable water, so many square miles on the margins of them, and so many acres "available for sugar"; that there are so many miles of drainage, by navigable canals and small trenches, so many miles of sea-dam, so many brick sluices and iron tunnels, so many bridges, and so many sets of sugar

The Reporter explained that for the Gazette and its colonial informant, the misfortune lurking in all this was low population density-or, in the informative correspondent's words: One hundred thousand persons, placed in the midst of six million acres of available land-among the richest in the world, and most accessible-more water frontage, and amid four millions of h e d capital! The readers of the Colonial Gazetre scarcely need to be told the consequences.

"Alas for British Guiana!" the Reporter observed. "Verily her desolation has come."31 The journal suggested that if colonial demands for massive labor immigration derived from such optimistic assessments of prospects for expanded investment in sugar cultivation in certain colonies, then simultaneous assertions that these colonies would be ruined without immediate imperial assistance-in the form of loans-in securing immigrant labor were not only inconsistent but deliberately misleading. Recalling that "Guiana planters complain that they cannot carry on the existing cultivation at a profit," theReporter wondered why they wanted to grow more. "Do they want to lose more money, for the very disinterested purpose of supplying the whole British consumption of sugar, and demonstrating the superior cheapness of free labour?" the journal puzzled. It continued: It seems to us, that the eagerness to cultivate waste lands is a proof-and all the more convincing, because it is a proof undesignedly furnished by themselves- that the present culture is profitable, and that it is so to such an extent as to excite the cupidity of the planters to turn more "earth to gold." If we are wrong in this interpretation, will the planters furnish us with one more natural and just?

The Reporter denied, as it consistently l d in thls period, the inference that planters were producing sugar at a loss. The article then turned to "proceelngs more public and weighty" than the perceptions of the Gazette's

Where Are These Records?


colonial informant: a meeting held by estate owners and managers in Georgetown, British Guiana on December I, 1842 to ascertain the fact that sugar producers were losing money, and to explore the reasons for their losses.32 At the meeting, production costs had been calculated on the assumption that the price of sugar in England was twenty-four shillings per cwt. The Reporter claimed that this figure was wrong, as a back issue of the Gazette itself would corroborate. On December I, 1841, the price of sugar had been "ex duty:' thirnl-nine shillings per cwt, or 15 shillings per cwt more than the Georgetown committee had admitted. "It is possible," the Reporter allowed, that "they mav have intended to name the price of sugar : fifteen shillings per c ~ r ~being t. a t Demerara, and not 'in ~ n ~ l a n dthe charges of freight, commission, &c." However, it observed, "the error is important, and if otherwise, it is destructive of their whole calculation,'' Turning planters' claims that production costs were insupportably high to its own advantage, the journal continued, "But let us admit (what, nevertheless, there is much to call into suspicion) h a t the Guiana planters are making sugar at a cost greater than the price it sells for; what does this prove? Perhaps nothing, but that they are a wasteful and extravagant set, clinging to large salaries and expensive processes.33The Reporter denied that workers were to blame for the high production costs, and decried the strategies the Georgetown meeting had agreed to adopt to lessen those costs. The journal noted that the Georgetown meeting did not recommend immigration as a remedy, and disingenuously confessed, "we cannot explain this, otherwise than by supposing-what we have no doubt is the truth-that the cry for immigration is rather artful than sincere." As for the remedies that were proposed, the Reporter observed that these "resolved themselves into a simple plan for coercing the labourers:' and consisted in reduction of ordnary wages by a thlrd, suspension of task work and bonuses for extra work performed, renting of estate housing at a dollar a week and eviction of tenants who worked on others' estates. "We scarcely know whether the folly or the wickedness of the scheme is the more conspicuous," the Reporter stated. "It is nothing less than a violent interference with the market for labour, and can never succeed."j4 As anti-slavery activists well knew, sugar estate operators' access to critical resources (from the right to vote, legislate, implement, and enforce laws in the colonies, to metropolitan connections, money, and skills sufficient for recruiting imperial support for their labor objectives) was superior


Chapter 4

to that of the emancipated classes of the British empire. The BFASS Committee was committed to exposing this imbalance and thereby winning protection and concessions for the men and women for whose emancipation the society took credt, and for whose successful vindication of free labor's material as well as moral superiority over slave labor they felt responsible. To thls end, the Reporter publicized detailed dssections of some of the evidence from whch official reports and conclusions were purportedly derived, and scrutinized the processes by whch they were generated.

Discrediting the Evidence On February 22, 1840, John Scoble wrote to the editors of the Repmter, bringing to their attention some correspondence surrounding the inquiry into the condtion of Indian indentured workers in Mauritius appointed in 1838 at the request of the Government of India.35As indicated earlier, the Government of Inda had requested this inquiry of the Governments of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay Presidencies and of the Mauritius and British Guiana governments when it suspended indentured emigration in July 1838. Only the Government of Bengal, among the Presidencies, complied, by appointing the Dickens Committee to the "Coolie Export Enquiry." The government of British Guiana did not respond. Scoble stressed the urgency of the situation for abolitionists and their allies. He explained that the papers had been printed "for the purpose of justifying the colonial minister, Lord John Russell, in his application to parliament to sanction an appeal to the Queen in council to relax the restrictions" recently imposed against "the export of Hill Coolies from Hindostan to any of the British emancipated colonies."36 He warned that, "The noble lord intends to favour Mauritius in the first instance; British Guiana and Trinidad will, of course, in turn, enjoy the same advantage." "Thus," he added, "'the Gladstone slave-trade' will be revived, and British phlanthropists be again compelled to remonstrate and petition against the monstrous iniquitylY3' This was more than just the thin edge of the wedge, Scoble continued, for Mauritius planters were notorious for their dsregard of the laws of god and man.38Indeed, "The history of Mauritius is one of the blackest and foulest in the colonial annals of this country," he noted. Scoble charged that "whether with the connivance, or in defiance of the authority of the executive," Mauritian planters had been deeply involved in the slave trade even after it was made illegal, and that when slavery was abolished, they

Where Are These Records?


had "had the audacity to put in their claim for compensation for upwards of 30,000 slaves who had been feloniously introduced by them into the island, and were paid the full amount of their demand without observation or remonstrance on the part of the government at home." These planters, he continued, have been, during the whole of their connexion with this country, entirely opposed to British laws and to British rule, and have managed by intrigue or by violence to get rid of almost every upright and honest functionary, and to secure to themselves and their creatures almost every office of importance and trust; and yet these men are to be favoured with an unlimited supply of labourers from Hindostan, and the noble lord [Russell] supposes that he will be able to secure the wretched creatures who may become their pre!l from fraud and o p p r e ~ s i o n . ~ ~

Like most of his anti-slavery associates and many of hls contemporaries in Britain, Scoble assumed that life in the colonies promoted decadence, corruption, and vice in otherwise respectable Europeans-especially those tainted by experience with sla~ery.4~ While officials and elites in the British Caribbean colonies (and Inda) came in for their share of denunciations from reformers and anti-slavery activists, their counterparts in Mauritius were regarded with especial disfavor and distrust. Exposing the machinations of Mauritius planters made the most of this dscursive resource because these colonials were also creolized resident planters and French.41 Scoble's selection of documents from the Parliamentary Papers in question and his annotations were presented in such a way as to suggest that colonial and Home government officials were complicit in perpetrating the fraud and abuse that they claimed had characterized indentured ~ doculabor migration from India to Mauritius and British G ~ i a n a . 4The ments from Parliamentary Papers that Scoble examined in this expost consisted primarily of correspondence between the Colonial Secretary of Mauritius, G. F. Dick, and five members of a committee assigned to investigate the condtion of Indian immigrants in the colony. Two of the five, J. Hugon and Captain J. Villiers Forbes, were "servants of the East India Cornpan);" of whose presence in Mauritius the Colonial Secretary happened to be aware. The other three, W. Bury, C. M. Campbell, and C. Anderson, were colonial magistrates in Mauritius. The letters revealed that, while four of the magistrates had agreed that the condtion of the Indian immigrants was satisfactory, the fifth, C. Anderson, had been disturbed by the neglect and abuse he had observed. He refused to sign the cover letter that accompanied an abstract of the minutes of evidence col-


Chapter 4

lected by the committee of inquiry, thereby obliging the Government of Mauritius to investigate the course of the investigation itself.43 Dick directed Anderson to explain why he had declined to sign the abstract of the evidence gathered by the committee. Anderson explained that, whlle he had no objection to the principle of condensing the voluminous evidence gathered, the abstract in question had been compiled in a manner which not only did not express the opinions which I had formed on the evidence which had been received by the committee, but which appeared to me to be at variance with that evidence, and calculated to mislead any person who might have recourse to the abstract for the purpose of forming a judgment on the question at issue.44 Noting that the committee had been empowered to undertake "minute investigations, with the assistance of interpreters," Anderson reported that while he had observed that Indian immigrants had been "fed, clothed and paid with but little deviation from their agreements," he had also noted that, "with a few exceptions," they were "treated with great and unjust severity, by overwork, and by personal ~hastisement."~~ He charged that "their lodging accommodation is either too confined and disgustingly filthy, or none is provided for them," and that little or no provision was made for those immigrants who became ill. Conceding that the staggered arrivals of immigrants from India made reliable calculations of mortality rates complicated and time-consuming, Anderson asserted that he was "inclined to believe" that deaths "would be found to amount to nine or ten percent.'' The special magistrate rejected the notion that immigrants' condition should be judged in terms of their probable condition had they stayed in Inda. H e wrote: Their deplorable state of destitution in their own country is always advanced as an argument in fa\7our of their improved condition here, without any reference to the change which takes place by their emigration, from comparative idleness and indolence, with the full enjoyment of all their natural prejudices, to sever and unremitting labour under many painful restrictions."46 Anderson concluded by denouncing the system of indentured labor migration as decisively as Scoble hlmself was wont to do. Dick requested Anderson to substantiate his allegations with details, which the Special Magistrate supplied and which hls associates disputed.47 Among other details, Anderson had noted an incident relating to the other commissioners' approach to their investigation. Accordng to Anderson,

Where Are These Records?


the commissioners had seen evidence that immigrants were subject to illegal corporal punishment (allegedly practiced on several plantations) on estates owned by a Mr. Berger, a Mr. Worthington, and Messrs. Tyack & Co, a fact that apparently they had not noted in the abstract of evidence he had refused to endorse. Anderson explained that indentured immigrants' complaints against Berger and Tyack & Co. had been "loud and strong:' and that in the case of the former, "convincing marks of most severe stripes were exhibited to the committee by several individuals." Mr. Berger responded "by threatening the complainants in the presence of the committee."48 Anderson also reported that on another estate where beatings were allegedly common, the committee had expressed "some surprise" that the rumored abuse "had not been alluded to by the Indians." H e explained that he himself had "attributed their silence td intimidation:' and had accordingly proposed that in future immigrants should be interviewed "when free from that restraint which, in the case of apprentices, is always felt in the presence of their master." However, Anderson's associates did not agree, and as a result "the only means of producing in the written evidence the full extent of the information which the committee was employed to search for, was consequently a b a n d ~ n e d . "The ~ ~ Governor requested Campbell, Villiers Forbes, Hugon, and Burv to explain the "discrepancies" benveen their original abstract and the evidence submitted by Anderson. Regarding Anderson's suggestion that the committee undermined itself by refusing to require managers to leave when immigrants were being interviewed, the four protested that Dick's original instructions to the committee50 "would have precluded the adoption of Mr. Anderson's suggestion," and that, besides, "the other members of the committee (from their practical knowledge of the natives of India)" had "been convinced that such a course would have been not only invidious in itself, but totally ~nnecessary."~~ They rejected Anderson's contention that, as apprentices had been, immigrants from India might have been afraid to complain about their employers in the latter's presence. They argued, "There is no similitude in the position of the Indian and that of the apprentice; the latter cannot but feel restraint in the presence of the individual whose property he was but yesterday" while the absence of such concerns among immigrants from India "was amply illustrated by the complaints made in presence of the employers." They concluded, "The mutual recriminations which took place benveen Mr. Berger and his men, ought to have been sufficient to have convinced an unbiased mind, that the presence of the


Chapter 4

employer did not place the Indan under any restraint in the expression of hls feelings." The remainder of the commissioners' defense consisted in challenging Anderson's unfavorable conclusions about the condition of indentured laborers from India by arguing that he had generalized unfairly on the basis of a handful of complaints and instances of demonstrated abuse or neglect. Questioning the authority of his observations, the commissioners noted that "as he did visit with the committee only 12 out of 31 establishments (other duties requiring his presence elsewhere), his opinion cannot in any way be said to result from the whole of the evidence obtained by the committee, but from other sources of i n f ~ r m a t i o n . " ~ ~ The Mauritius government responded to this defense with some ambivalence. It appears to have agreed with Anderson that the four had not pursued their inquiries as vigorously as they ought to have done. The governor deplored the commissioners' failure to take special care to investigate the situation on an estate on which corporal punishment "was a matter of public notoriety, and known to three members of the ~omrnittee."~~ Relaying this displeasure, Dick wrote, "the governor trusts that, in your future proceedings, you will perceive the necessity of fully entering into such inquiries, and of eliciting all the facts in similar cases, on order to leave no doubt or question with regard to them." However, having thus reprimanded the commissioners for sloppiness, Dick proceeded to explain that: His excellency is disposed to be satisfied in much of the explanation you have afforded in answer to Mr. Anderson's statements, and to consider that the gentleman may have generalised too much, and may have derived his information from other sources than the evidence given before the committee.

Reverting to reprimand mode, Dick also noted that the governor agreed with Anderson that "the criterion of comfort and convenience for the Indians should be taken from those of their own class in this island, and not from what they may have been used to in their own country."54 Scoble was incensed by the commissioners' response, and indignantly asserted in a footnote that "A careful review of the evidence taken, and the animus of the letter, prove that they limited their inquiries within the narrowest possible range, and were unfitted for the discharge of the duties imposed upon them."55Scoble was also outraged by the reserve shown by the governor in representing to the Colonial Office the controversy simmering between Anderson and the other four commissioners. He wrote in another footnote that the governor had merely observed that "there was a considerable difference of opinion between Special Justice Anderson and

Where Are These Records?


the other members, as to the treatment which the labourers received from their employers, and which does certainly not appear to have been sufficiently noted." Scoble added, "This speaks volumes as to the worthlessness of the reports transmitted to him."56 Commenting on the report itself, Scoble observed that, contrary to Anderson's allegations and the evidence he presented to support them, the commissioners had asserted that immigrants were generally treated well, a claim that he recommended be handled "not only with great caution but with great abatement."57Scoble proceeded to examine the provisions made for food and clothing in the contracts signed by immigrants from India, noting that according to the minutes of evidence, a sizeable number of immigrants had complained that they were insufficient, and that the commissioners had dismissively attributed their complaints to "a general tendency to misunderstanding between the master and labourer, arising out of the great discrepancies which exist in the condtion of the different contracts, principally with regard to food and the hours of labour," which the commissioners believed could be minimized if contracts were standardi~ed.~~ Scoble ended by turning the commissioners' dismissal of immigrants' evidence against their own favorable impressions of the condition of indentured Indian immigrants in Mauritius. Campbell, Villiers Forbes, Hugon, and Bury had concluded their report by stating, "we are strongly impressed with the belief that the condtion of the Indian in the island, is superior to what it is in most parts of India; but the ideas of natives differ so widely from our own on those points, that the true test of their real sentiments can only be expected at the close of their engagement^."^^ Having led readers through a demonstration that the process by which the committee collected information on the condition of Indians in Mauritius was marked by sloppiness and evasiveness, Scoble seized on this comment (made, probably, on the authority of Villiers Forbes's and Hugon's experience with InQans as officers of the East India Company) to discredit the committee's final report and conclusions. Scoble wrote: How valueless does this remark render the whole of the evidence of the Coolies, taken by these gentlemen in the presence of their masters, in which they are represented as saying that they are satisfied with their treatment! But, after all, it is apparent, that, in their estimation, slavery in Mauritius is only to be preferred to famine in India; so that it is quite clear, that the extreme wretchedness and poverty of the Coolie in his own country, arising from bad laws infamously administered, is the point of comparison in the judgment of the commissioners with what they


Chapter 4

found to be their condition in the colony . . . where, whatever might be their sufferings, they would not be exposed quite to the horrors of death by starvation.60 This comment raises three points. First, Scoble noted, indentured migrants' perspectives were routinely and systematically excluded from the official record. In the same way that wives' evidence was deemed inadmissible in a husband's trial, "native" workers' evidence was considered unreliable and therefore irrelevant to the deliberations of a committee of inquiry formed to "ascertain whether they are contented with their lot, and satisfied with the manner in which the contracts with them have in generally been fulfilled by the parties to whom consigned, and for whom their services were engaged."61Second, Scoble did not intend to stop at discrediting the committee's report. He extended his critique of its generation and conclusions to discredit and denounce the entire system of indentured labor migration and any European colonials connected with it. This tactic was not peculiar to him, but representative of the Anti-Slavery Committee's and the Reporter's expository strategies generally.62 Finally, this passage makes clear that Scoble and the editors who printed his letter with all its enclosures in the Repmter shared a conviction that not only were official records valuable resources and powerful tools (for policy makers and lobbyists alike), but they were also in need of public challenge and revision. The edtors l d not necessarily expect that the journal would persuade imperial administrators to review their increasingly sympathetic attitudes towards planters' and merchants' representations of conltions in the sugar colonies. Rather, they viewed the Repmter as an important corrective to what they saw as lstortions in the public record currently being perpetrated by the so-called sugar interests and (gullible or complicit) imperial administrators. If the journal did not continue to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy, the fact of that challenge would be extingui~hed.~~ In 1857,long after indentured labor migration from India had been integrated into British Guiana and Trinidad policies and budgets, the Repmter ran a series featuring letters to the eltors of the London Times on the subject of expanding indentured labor migration from Africa to the British Caribbean sugar colonies. The Repmter charged that the Times printed pro-planter letters to the virtual exclusion of any from the opposing camp (unless it was written by such a luminary as Dr. David Livingstone). They further charged that these letters "contain the outline of the policy of the Times in preparing itself to advocate . . . unlimited immigration from

Where Are These Records?


Africa, or indeed from anywhere, and a system of coerced labour."64 The Reporter's edtors admitted that thls damaged the anti-immigration effort, if only because it steadily and imperceptibly ate away at any reservations that still-uncommitted members of Parliament and imperial administrators might have about such schemes. However, the anti-slavery edltors felt that the Reporter should run the small risk of broadcasting even more widely the views reflected in the letters published by the Times because it was important to document and publicize the biased edtorial practices of this prestigious journal "of record."65 Much the same spirit informed the Reporter's approach to refuting planters' representations of emancipation, the emancipated people of Britain's sugar colonies, and post-emancipation condtions there. Although thev lost the battle over indentured labor migration, the influence of forces and arguments opposed to it were not entirely suppressed, only muted. Anti-slavery activists evoked and stoked the kinds of concerns in imperial administrators, legislators, and sugar interests that had contributed to bringing about abolition of slavery. They had argued that indentured labor migration involved the same lunds of violations of family, humanity, and Christianity that slavery had perpetrated, and that in any case enlightened self-interest was better incentive for industriousness than physical or contractual coercion. And, as noted earlier, they had also invoked established and emerging hierarchical dscourses on gender, race, class, and empire to mobilize support for their on-going critique of the system. The BFASS's interventions on Indlan indentured migration, framed as they were by the success of anti-planter metropolitan abolitionism and emergent liberal bourgeois social, sexual, and "economic" dscourses, anchored or fixed the terms in w h c h subsequent critiques, adjustments, and analyses of the system and its history have been staged. The hstoriography on Indan indentured migration, for example, continues to be animated by debate over whether it represented a new system of slavery perpetrated against some of the most vulnerable imperial subjects, or an opportunity for self-improvement for the same ~ulnerableimperial subjects-as BFASS critics and planter champions of the system had argued at its genesis and throughout its seventy-plus years of operation. Along with the entrepreneurs and colonial planters against whom they arrayed themselves, the BFASS polemicists and activists contributed to establishing around the category of "labor" a constellation of particular and herarchcal moral, sexual, gender, and racial values. Mobilized as variables in contestations over the "condition" of the post-emancipation


Chapter 4

British Caribbean colonies, articulated within emergent dscourses on empire, and retrievable through the archlve (in the records of colonial and imperial government), these contingent, strategic definitions have become not only fixed, as categories, but also, I argue in Chapter 6, as identities projected onto or assumed by people at different times and for specific, contingent ends. The "labor shortage" over which the Repmter and investors in British Caribbean sugar battled was anchored in normative assumptions about the meaning of emancipation and freedom. These were themselves variously deployed by metropolitan and colonial abolitionists and entrepreneurs to transform freedpeople and conditions of production and profit according to their different, but not necessarily irreconcilable imperial visions.


The "Saints" Come Marching In

I am sure that the House will feel the necessity of observing some analogy and proportion in its method of dealing with different questions, and with the several classes of her Majesty's subjects. Compare the child of nine years old-and some say, under-entering your factories to work eight hours a day-and some say more-for a livelihood, with the child of nine years old in British Guiana, supported without labour by the proprietors of the soil. What shall we say of the Irish peasant with his six-pence a day; of the handloom-weeaver [sic] with his four shillings a-week?-what shall those of us who have such poor constituents say to them, when next we go among them, and see their wasted frames stooping to their toil for twelve or fourteen hours in the day to procure a bare subsistence, when we tell them we have no aid to afford them, but that we have been busy in rescuing from his seven-and-a-halfdaily hours the negro of British Guiana, who can employ his extra time at the rate of three shillings and sixpence, or four shillings a-day? -William E. Gladstone, 1838


PREMISES of sugar planters' and investors' arguments for assisted labor immigration were that it was necessary t o continue t o cultivate sugar in the formerly slave colonies of the British Caribbean (and Mauritius), that production could be carried o u t only o n plantations, and that expansion was n o t only possible b u t also necessary if British worlung classes were t o be supplied with affordable sugar.2 The BFASS trained its cannons (and canons) against these bulwarks. T h e BFASS was composed primarily of middle class men (women were associated through auxiliary societies): clergymen, professionals, and a sprinkling of peers. However, as the institutional crisis provoked by debates o n the future of colonial British privileges in metropolitan British markets makes clear, thls did n o t mean that the Society always spoke with one voice, o r that its policies o n the former slave colonies and I n d a n emigration were uncontested and unswerving. British Foreign and Anti-Slavery Society members


Chapter 5

held &verse views on labor relations in manufacturing, agriculture, and the domestic sphere in metropolitan Britain, and on empire. This diversity informed their analyses of sexual, social, and economic conditions in the post-emancipation British colonies, complicating and limiting the Society's articulations of free labor in important and characteristic ways. Furthermore, the implications of these lscursive limits and proliferations affected not only the system under which indentured workers from In&a migrated to other British colonies, but also the hstories written about that imperial labor reallocation strategy (and about British abolitionism) since the 1840s.~T h s chapter examines BFASS's interventions on Indian indentured migration in the frameworks of its stated mission to abolish slavery and the slave trade throughout the world, and its members' multiple and often contradictory understanding of that mission and how best to achieve it both through and despite Britain's empire. The BFASS and its Repmter's eltors were not opposed to labor immigration generally, but rather to the introduction of indentured workers from Asia and Africa. In February, 1840, the Reporter reprinted part of an article from the Trinidad Standard that had reported that some of the free blacks from the United States who had recently immigrated to the colony had been completing an unprecedented three tasks a day. The Repmter noted that the colonial newspaper's editor had "triumphantly" drawn from h s alleged super-productivity the "important inference of the superiority of free over slave labour!" The Trinidad Standard continued: A willing and able free man has here performed three times the quantity of labour formerly extracted from the unwilling slave. Need we a more sufficing proof of the ultimate superiority of the new system-of the immeasurable advantage of the argumentum ad pecunium, over the argumentum a POSTERIORI?

The Repmter took the opportunity to marvel, "To think that the Trinidadians are at last converted to h s d ~ c t r i n e ! " ~ The BFASS's objections rested on two grounds. The first was that local conditions made Asians and Africans uniquely susceptible to unscrupulous recruiters. The second was that introduction of workers so ill-equipped to protect themselves against exploitative contracts misrepresented by recruiters as golden opportunities would undermine the position of newly emancipated populations of the British Caribbean and Mauritius, depress wages, and jeopardize the emergence and establishment of a genuinely free market in labor. In contrast to I n l a n and African recruits,

The "Saints" Come Marching In


Europeans and American free blacks qualified as free agents and their immigration as free immigration, as far as the Reporter was concerned. Still, one colonial paper's condemnation of the condtion of some recentlylanded French immigrants as "a mitigated lund of slavery," and another's observation that British Guiana planters had "soundly rated" Governor Light for having taken the "very proper" step of releasing a shipload of German immigrants from their fraudulent contracts were scrupulously reprinted in the Reporter? Similarly, when hopeful planters in Trinidad and British Guiana, in their efforts to recruit free blacks in Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and other cities in the United States, spent colonial funds and solemnly pledged that the lund of "color prejudice" that marred American society would not find a place in their colonies, Reporter edtors confidently predcted that these recruitment efforts would fail.6 Nonetheless, upon receiving a copy of a favorable report written by a delegation of free blacks from Baltimore who had gone to investigate conditions for emigration in the British Caribbean, the BFASS went to the trouble of addressing a letter to prospective migrants warning them of what they called the true nature of the region's planters and their intention^.^ Free labor ideology itself generated contradictions that limited the Society's abilin to mobilize massively and campaign decisively against indentured labor migration. The central problem here was the extent to which the BFASS was, effectively, interfering with free labor in objecting to and obstructing Asian and African indentured labor migration. The BFASS's strategy in the face of this challenge was to deny that the Asians or Africans slated for recruitment were free agents, by virtue of their ignorance and consequent vulnerability to deceit and fraud. In 1838, Lord Brougham had reminded the House of Lords that Parliament had made laws to ensure that no Briton would be transported out of England against his will and that it was these that Glenelg had circumvented for Gladstone's labor needs in British Guiana. Noting that those for whose protection the laws were framed were "civilized men," indeed, "compared with the Coolies of Bengal, or the Negroes of the Mazambic coast . . . accomplished persons," Brougham argued that even more vigilance would be necessary to protect Indians and Africans from recruiters' deceptions: What hopes can we entertain of ever being able to make a Hindoo, a Coolie from the inland territory of the Companj: a poor native who has never seen the ocean, or any sheet of water larger than the tank of his village, or the stream in which he bathes-comprehend the nature of a ship and a voyage, the discomforts of a crowded hold, the sufferings of four months at sea, the labours of a sugar plan-


Chapter 5

tation, the toils of hoeing, and cutting, and sugar boiling under a tropical suntoils under which even the hardy Negro is known to pine, and which must lay the feeble and effeminate Asiatic prostrate in the scorched dust? Whlle Indians were being cast in this passage as vulnerable, English workers were being cast as "civilized men . . . accomplished persons," suggesting that, however buried the comparison, English worlung men were emerging and being constructed in 1838 in terms of imperial and racial hierarchies. Indentured labor migration from India (and China and Africa), presented as the right of employers to seek and recruit workers wherever they chose (or to buy labor power as cheaply as possible) and as the right of workers to sell their labor power to the highest bidder, presented a dlemma to the free labor champions in the Anti-Slavery Society. Similarly, the alleged withdrawal of emancipated women from field labor created a dilemma that went to the heart of free labor ideology and threw into sharp relief the limits to which its respectable champions, in government and out, would press it. According to anti-slavery and labor reformers and to planters and employers in Britain and in the colonies, the model, ideal laborer was almost always male. The idea of free women laborers represented a contradction in terms. On the one hand, by withdrawing from field labor, women were said to be depriving employers of a portion of the labor force to which they had been accustomed. On the other hand, by withdrawing from field and therefore wage labor, AfroCaribbean women were fulfilling the function of bourgeois womanhood and the best hopes of civilizing missions in Britain and the colonies alike? While anti-slavery activists celebrated this alleged withdrawal of women from the fields as vindcation of emancipation and evidence of freedpeople's ripeness for civilization and upliftment, planters and their allies used the alleged withdrawal to argue for assistance in securing workers from abroad to make up the difference. In June 1840, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society convened the first World Convention on Anti-Slavery in London. It was exactly at this time that Parliament was considering the bill, endorsed by Colonial Secretary Russell, to lift the 1938 ban on Indian indentured migration to Mauritius.lo When Stephen ~ u s h m ~ t oreported n on the last day of the Convention that Russell's bill had been defeated the previous evening, it was proclaimed a victory in the cause that had brought together the scores of delegates from the British empire, France, and the United States. For this success, Lushington told the Convention, "we must all congratulate

The "Saints" Come Marching In


each other, all be thankful to Providence, that for the present, at least, a stop has been put to what I conceive to be little less than the renewal of the traffic in man."" Daniel O'Connell captured what appeared to be the BFASS position on In&an indentured migration when he declared at the Convention, "I am fully persuaded that you might as well proclaim the slave-trade again as proclaim the admission of the Hill Coolies into our West In&a colonies; and I am equally convinced that the planters in the Mauritius are the worst guardians that could be appointed to protect these labourers. I would rather be a part to the total annihilation of that unfortunate race, than to their being subjected to a new species of slavery" (p. 383). The minutes of the 1840 Convention suggest how empire enabled the BFASS to manage some of the contradictions generated by their gendered and race-inflected assumptions about labor, as well as their abolitionist objectives and strategies. The minutes of the Convention suggest that the &visions among British anti-slavery activists over the course the BFASS ought to take in the wake of emancipation in the British Caribbean, Mauritius, and the Cape Colony were informed by competing visions of the custodial obligations and moral and material opportunities afforded by empire. What follows are four fragments from the proceedings of the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention that highlight the crucial significance of empire and capitalism to British anti-slavery thought in the postemancipation period and the ongoing significance of anti-slavery critiques of both to the emergence of an imperial division of labor anchored in notions of racial/national hierarchy and patriarchal domesticity.l2

"With his wife in her proper place and the Bible on the table" A primary objective of the first World Anti-Slavery Convention was to develop strategies and resources for the ongoing campaign to eliminate slavery throughout the world, most particularly in Spanish and French colonies in the Americas, in the United States and in Brazil. In the course of the first day's proceedings, committees were appointed to review the condition and state of knowledge on various issues considered of significance to the problem of slavery and its eradication. On the seventh dav of the Convention, the committee on free labor presented its evaluation of the progress of free labor in the British Caribbean, Mauritius, and Cape Colony; planters' efforts to limit its success (through evictions


Chapter 5

from houses and provision grounds, legislative actions that sought to limit freedpeople's mobility within and between colonies, and so on); and the best means for protecting and further amplifying the advances made. The report argued that, unfettered by restrictions imposed by a reactionary plantocracy, the production of sugar under free labor would bring about an end to slave production of sugar in Cuba and Brazil where it was then flourishmg. The report sought to turn accounts of dminished British Caribbean sugar output since emancipation to the advantage of the anti-slavery cause, arguing that scarcity and hgher prices would accelerate sugar production under free labor in those parts of the world where conditions were suitable and the soil not yet exhausted by years of excessive cultivation, thus increasing supply and lowering prices, and in the longer term undermining sugar industries based on slavery and the slave trade. The committee identified Trinidad, British Guiana, and British India as the crucial sites for such take-off and redemption (pp. 342-61). After the report of the committee on free labor had been read, the Reverend William Knibb, a British Baptist missionary who had lived and worked since the mid-1820s among Jamaican slaves, Apprentices and free blacks, addressed the gathered abolitionists. Bitterly rejecting the defamatory accounts of freedpeople's post-emancipation behavior circulated in the colonial and metropolitan press by planters and their sympathizers, Knibb took this opportunity to, he said, "clear the character of my brethren, the negroes, who cannot speak for themselves, from the aspersions which are continually cast upon them" (p. 364). Knibb noted with concern that the free labor committee's report and the debate it had so far generated had focused on the record and prospects for post-abolition sugar production, and on how best to persuade stubborn planters, who &d not recognize their own best interest, of the abolitionist tenet that free labor was bound to out-perform slave-labor. Under the circumstances, he said, it was left to him to show that, along with plantation-owners, "those most interested in emancipation, the suffering negroes," had also benefited from emancipation, despite the malicious efforts of the very men to whose reason and self-interestthe free labor committee's report had appealed. Knibb argued that the success of emancipation ought to be measured by freedpeople's socialization to the roles and places he and his associates envisioned for and assigned them. Knibb told the Convention that in Jamaica, contrary to planters' claims, "emancipation has produced an increase of morality, social order, and domestic happiness." He reported that the "brethren" with whom he was involved had "since freedom came,

The "Saints" Come Marching In


celebrated nearly six thousand marriages. Many have said, 'Now our wives and children will be our own, and the lash will no more torture them'" (pp. 365-66). He argued, "if we can prove that his morality, his virtue, h s industry, his every comfort has been improved, we prove all that we need in reference to this great object." Knibb's description of the good society is captured in the images of the heterosexual conjugal household in its single-family home (founded in those 6,000 marriages performed since emancipation) and the free village, several of which had been developed under Baptist patronage and guidance and were sometimes named after prominent English abolitionists like Buxton, Sturge, and Wilberforce, or after Queen Victoria. Knibb recalled for his audience one such village he had visited before he left Jamaica, where a handful of houses had been built and where, he told the Convention, "I saw the man there with his wife in her proper place, and the Bible on the table. 'Step in: said they, 'Mr. Knibb, and sit down and see how happy we are' " (p. 368). Knibb insisted that both the moral and the material bases of freedom in the British West Indies lay in the patriarchal peasant household-the very unit that, according to its leading sugar planters, would ruin Trinidad and threaten colonial society if it were allowed to develop.13 Knibb sought to steer the Convention toward h s perspective, invoking the phlanthrop\i of the "Saints" who had worked so long and hard to end the horrors of the slave trade and the per\~ersionsof slavery, and reminding them that "It is not with us a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, but of stern principle, and to t h s we must come, and by this issue we must abide" (p. 364). He argued that "we have in the emancipation of the peasantry in the West Indies, the foundation of that independence which alone can secure permanent prosperity." He invited the gathered abolitionists to Jamaica, where he and h s associates and brethren would take them to "the freeman's cot, to the freeman's house, to the freeman's castle, where the Petty Debt Act cannot reach him for unjust and iniquitous rent [and] where the Ejectment Act cannot take hold of him, because he does not choose to work for less than labour is worth" (p. 370). In thus asserting freedmen's right to participate in establishing the market price of their labor, Knibb enunciated a radcal free labor position that challenged some abolitionists' approach to the wages, condtions, and demands of laborers in their own shops and factories-as William Gladstone had pointed out in his speech against early termination of Apprenticeshp in 1838 (quoted at beginning of the chapter). However, radical as this particular proposition may have been, Knibb (like the rest of the


Chapter 5

delegates to the Convention) remained committed to a social herarchy predicated on particular gender, race, and sexual relations. That he assigned freedmen in Jamaica a role subordinate to his, and freedwomen a role subordinate to theirs, is abundantly clear in his language and assignment of roles, not only to freedpeople but also to himself and his audience. He passionately proclaimed that "there does not exist, under the canopy of heaven, a more industrious, more orderly, more peaceful peasantry than those things whom you have made men" (p. 364: emphasis in original). Knibb concluded his narrative of the ordeal of free labor in Jamaica by once again invohng h s authority to speak for the colony's newly-emancipated people: "In the name of 300,000 negroes in Jamaica, I return you all the thanks whch grateful hearts, whch happy wives and chldren can give, surrounded bv all the domestic comforts whlch their husbands and fathers feel proud to impart" (p. 374).

"Keeping up a supply of sugar" Responding to Knibb, Stephen Lushngton agreed that the Convention should persuade the imperial government to ensure that the laws passed in British Caribbean colonies were just and impartially administered. He worried, however, that it was beyond the power of the BFASS and the Convention to effect the changes in social attitudes and values that would make it possible to successfully implement Knibb's program for postemancipation development in the British Caribbean. He argued that abolitionists' only influence lay in revealing the impediments introduced by the old plantocracy to the operation of free labor, and the successful demonstration of the superiority of this system of labor over slavery. Knowing, he observed, "that the world at large are not impressed with the same convictions that abolitionists entertain," he was most anxious "to find continuous labour throughout our colonies in the production of sugar." Endorsing Knibb's portrait of the positive social effects of emancipation in Jamaica, Lushington warned him to remember the horrors of the slave trade, and begged Knibb to "bend his efforts upon all just and fair principles, to the encouragement of the home growth of sugar." He added that, "considering the enormous demand for sugar in this country compared with the supply, and knowing the feeling which pervades the minds of so many elsewhere," he feared that failure to maintain the level of supply would give further impetus to the Brazilian and Cuban sugar industries, and to the slave trade and slavery on whch they were based (pp. 379-80).


The "Saints" Come Marching In


The response of subsequent speakers to Lushington's plea on behalf of British consumers and victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade overwhelmingly favored the free labor committee's development agenda for the British Caribbean colonies (staple-crop production for a world market) over the kind of peasant subsistence production Knibb envisioned. Sounding remarkably like leading planters and advocates for immigration in Trinidad and British Guiana, this committee of abolitionists had noted that in these nvo Caribbean colonies "there is a vast extent of unoccupied land of almost boundless fertility, sufficient to grow sugar for the whole world. In these colonies, the cultivation is at present immensely profitable, and labour is in such great demand, that there is reason to believe the planters would grant us any concession or securities we can ask, if we will only aid them in obtaining it." The committee added that, while "we deprecate the introduction of ignorant and helpless beings" from India and Africa to these British Caribbean colonies, they felt that "if a sufficient guarantee can be obtained for securing entire freedom, and equal rights to free black immigrants from our other West India colonies, and the United States of America, immense advantage would ensue," and that while getting these would be difficult, it would not be impossible (pp. 360-61). They went on to say that such free immigration, once started, would continue to the benefit of all concerned: immigrants, planters, and benevolent citizens of the empire. "Thanks to the efforts of our missionaries," they continued, free immigrants from other West Indian colonies as well as from the United States "would reach the shores of British Guiana, intelligent, and civilized, and christianized." There, improved cultivation technology and techniques would soon make immigrant labor "productive beyond example." Sugar would be raised in unlimited quantity, and at a price which, after a fair profit to the planter, would still be low enough to undersell in all the markets of Europe, the blood-stained produce of Cuba and the Brazils. Ifthere be any truth in theprinc~leswe have endeavoured to eqlain, the transport of human beings to these charnel houses of death would then cease, as it would no longer repay the risks of the passage. The slavetrade would thus be at an end, and as the competition of free labour held on its course, these nations would ultimately relinquish slavery itself. (361)

Trinidad and British Guiana along with India were central to the drama outlined above: they were at the crux of BFASS agendas for ending slavery worldwide. The settlement negotiated between the internationally minded wing of the BFASS and the Convention, and those more particularly focused


Chapter 5

on the British Caribbean colonies and the condition and prospects of their emancipated populations, is best represented by the Irish MP and crusader on behalf of Irish and Catholic rights in the British empire, Daniel O'Connell. He told the delegates and audience in Exeter Hall that other governments needed to be assured that abolishing slavery was "safe:' and that the only proof that would be sufficiently convincing was the continued, preferably expanded production of sugar in the post-emancipation British Caribbean colonies: Free labour in abundance affords the only chance of the experiment working well; but you cannot have free labour in abundance, because the planters in Jamaica calculate upon the labour of both sexes in the field, while the negroes with great propriety keep their wives at home in their proper province, to attend to the domestic concerns of the family. . . . There is, therefore, naturally a decrease in the quantity of labour there; and how can it be supplied?Only by healthful emigration from North America, where the free negro is treated with unbecoming indignity, and by none treated worse than by my own unhappy countrymen, who having suffered persecution, ought to have learned mercy. The only prospect we have of keeping up a supply of sugar, equal to the consumption of this island, is by encouraging emigration. (p. 382)

Inadvertently echoing John Gladstone and other advocates of indentured immigration, and with a bow to Knibb, O'Connell placed the ordeal of free labor in the British Caribbean squarely in its multiple, overlapping, and mutually constitutive gender, race, national, and imperial contexts. Immigration, even indentured immigration, was not in itself what these British abolitionists objected to. They agreed with planters that immigration could solve problems of underproduction in some British Caribbean sugar colonies- but only if prospective migrants could be trusted to enter the contracts voluntarily and fully understandng the rights and responsibilities these engendered. Scoble's and others' representations of Indian indentured migration called into question Indan recruits' ability to take on these responsibilities-indeed, as will be dscussed in Chapter 7, Scoble argued that the very fact that thousands of Indian men had migrated to Mauritius without their wives and children proved their intrinsic unreliability and irresponsibility. Not only were family and a particular gender division of labor being naturalized, but so too was a hierarchy and division of labor in the imperial family of nations and races, where those with labor power to sell were not equally free to do so-as supporters of Indian indentured migration were quick to point out.14

The "Saints" Come Marching In


"They have retained in chains, those whom they found in chains" On the second day of the Convention, Professor Adam of Cambridge, Massachusetts had given a paper on the condition of slavery in British India. In Adam's account, Hindu and Muslim custom and the British East India Company (EIC) emerged as the prime architects of Indan slavery. H e argued that, while slavery was allowed under both Hindu and Muslim law, the circumstances under which it was considered legal under the latter were limited to conquered infidels and their descendants, and that the bulk of the approximately one million slaves in India did not meet this criterion and were therefore, accordng to Muslim law itself, illegally enslaved. Adam argued that, in effect, slavery had been made legal in British India by a doubtful interpretation of [Muslim] law, the spirit of lvhich is supposed to embrace slaver5 and the letter of which is acknowledged to be wholly silent on the subject. It is by means of this confessedly doubtful, and it is believed wholly erroneous, interpretation, that the entire system of East India slavery has been perpetuated under the British government . . . [and] illegal custom has been invested by the British government of India, with the desecrated forms and sanctions of law and justice. (pp. 80-81)

Adam recommended that the only remedy was immediate abolition of slavery in India, noting that this course would be "safe for the government" of British Inda, "for all experience shows that danger to the government has arisen only from innovations introduced for the increase of revenue, while no danger can be shown to have ever arisen from innovations, such as this would be, plainly tenhng to, and designed for, the welfare of the people." Adam added that Mauritius and Demerara planters' innovations with Indan indentured labor were "merely another form" of the slave trade (p. 86). Familiarlv, Inda emerges in Adam's report as a place to be rescued, cultivated, civilized, itself emancipated from the thralldom of Muslim and Hindu pasts. More interesting than these familiar representations is the context in which Adam enunciates them and their effects in this forum. Adam's report, presented on the second day of this first international Anti-Slavery Convention, laid the groundwork for an anti-slavery vision of imperial obligation and resources that temporarily managed dissension among abolitionists, reflected in the dffering strategies proposed by Knibb, Lushington, and O'Connell. Abolishing slavery in India and ex-


Chapter 5

panding production there of sugar, cotton, and indigo through free labor were seen to solve several problems at once. The blot on British national philanthropy would be removed, while production of sugar and cotton through free labor could be tested without the burdens of planter nostalgia for slavery. Cash crop production in British Indla under conditions of free labor and British imperial administration and the vigilant eyes of British citizenry would not only lift the veil of ignorance, poverty, and despotic custom under which India still languished, but also redeem British enterprise in India and accelerate the end of Cuban, Brazilian, and American slavery by proving once and for all the superior cost-efficiency and productivity of free labor. As Joseph Sams put it, if the British, "as a nation, were to use only free labour produce, it would be one of the severest blows which could possibly be given to slavers. Our fellow-subjects, the natives of British India are exceedingly oppressed; and I think measures might be adopted by the Convention, which, while they went even to destroy slavery, would tend very materially to their benefit" (p. 90). Amplifying Adam's criticism of the Indian and imperial governments, Joseph Pease of Darlington and the India Association told the Convention that slavery was flourishing in India not because British legislators and ministers were unaware of it, but because "the government of this country has profited by the continuance of the system." He added that all could yet be set to right if more land were brought under cultivation, and if the government were to ease the revenue demands it made on Indian cultivators: Sufficient evidence upon the subject was taken in the committee of the House of Commons; it was proved that the land-tax was most oppressive, leading to want and starvation, and compelling millions to become slaves for a long series of years. I have stated these things before the Directors of the East India Company, and now hope that the statements made will go forth to the country, and that abundance of petitions will be sent in to Parliament, praying that one-third of the land, which is now in possession of wild beasts, may be brought into cultivation, that the wants of the human population may meet an adequate supply. (p. 87)

Three further speakers then moved that the committee appointed to make recommendations for action to the convention be authorized to "turn minutely to the state of British Indla" and its government. The chairman of the day's proceedngs summarily rejected this proposal, arguing that the Convention u~ould"gain nothing by mixing up the subjects" (p. 90). However, the next several days of debate and dscussion would prove him wrong. Indan slavery, misgovernment of India by the East Inda Com-

The "Saints" Come Marching In


pany, the ordeal of free labor in the British West Indes, the threat of competition from Cuban and Brazilian slave-producedsugars and increasingly insistent demands from metropolitan British consumers for cheaper sugar, the dilemma posed by the British textile industry's reliance on American slave-produced cotton, the Convention's commitment to ending slavery and slave trade throughout the world, and the imperatives of capital accumulation and colonial administration were inextricably entangled in delegates' understanding of the challenges they faced, and the strategies they proposed for attacking them. When the committee on Indian slavery presented its report a few days later, it accepted and reiterated Adam's argument that EIC had resurrected and legalized a moribund and practically illegal condition in its administration of Indan laws. The committee condemned both the EIC and the imperial government for this. It noted especially that in the very year when slavery had been abolished in Mauritius, the British West Indies, and the Cape Colony, a clause that had been in an early draft of the 1833 bill for renewing the EIC Charter, requiring abolition of slavery in British India by August 12, 1837, was eliminated from the final version that was passed by Parliament and replaced by one calling for amelioration and gradual abolition, "as soon as such extinction shall be practicable and safe," and by the stipulation that a committee would be appointed to determine how the end of slavery in British India could best be pursued. The committee on Indian slavery echoed Adam and Pease in concludng that, under these circumstances, it was "for the British nation to direct their immediate attention to this important subject, and to seek the immediate and entire abolition of personal slavery throughout the whole of British India" (p. 450). As dscussion of Indian slavery proceeded, the British nation was simultaneously distanced from the British imperial state and the special interests that sought to influence it (monopoly and privilege, favorite free trade foes) and assimilated to BFASS and its agendas and assumptions. BFASS emerged in its members' discussions as the active embodiment of civic virtue, the voice and conscience, the nerve center of civil society. The state was corrupt or at least eminently corruptible (and this comes through in most BFASS publications and events), but the virtuous citizenry, animated by spirits of Christian justice and humanity, were not.15The state's corruptibility by privilege was brought home to delegates by the Reverend James Peggs of Bourne, who had been a missionarv in Orissa and had just published The Present state of East India slavery, chiefly derived from the Parliamentary Papers on the subject. He made the Duke of Wellington the in-


Chapter 5

stigator and the House of Lords the site where the slavery abolition clause was removed from the 1833 EIC Charter renewal bill. Peggs charged Wellington with having abused the authority to interpret and represent India that was accorded hlm by Britons on the strength of his years in the subcontinent when he assured his fellow peers that the anti-slavery clause was unnecessary, saying, "I have served in that country, and lived among the people, and I never knew an instance of cruelty being practiced towards the slaves, if slaves they ought to be called" (p. 451). It appears then that in 1833 there was some ambiguity and disagreement about what constituted slavery-and what constituted empire.16 In 1833 Parliament recognized as slavery the perpetually heritable condtion of legal bondage under which large proportions of transported and locally born Africans in the Caribbean, Mauritius, and South Africa lived, and voted to end the legal condition throughout the British empire. Freedom was defined as slavery's opposite: as the absence of the legal condtions that characterized servile status." In the same year, Parliament acceded to not requiring abolition of what appeared to be a similar condition in India, on the authority of an architect of British empire in India and a peer of the realm, who defined slavery by cruelty, whch he associated with the systems of the British Caribbean and not with bondage in India. Wellington recognized and persuaded Parliament to recognize degrees of unfreedom-at least in India, which though governed by Britons was yet ambiguously situated relative to Britain's empire-when abolitionists were insisting there were only the absolute, mutually constitutive conditions and opposite poles of slavery and freedom. In calling attention to the problem of slavery in British India, the British abolitionists who organized 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention joined in the chorus challenging the ambiguous position of British Inda and the privileged position of the East India Company in the British empire. The annexation of India to the British empire performed at the BFASS Convention of 1840 helped to contain the inconsistencies and contradictions that threatened to overwhelm anti-slavery as a free labor ideology palatable to the employers and patriarchal heads of household who formed the bulk of the BFASS membership, and make it an emancipatory political one that also threatened the bases of their authority.18 However, such a strategy had its own contradctions and hazards, and negotiating these further involved BFASS members and other delegates in enunciating and ascribing national as well as racial, class, and gender categories and identities. Respondng to an American delegate's comment, the Reverend

The "Saints" Come Marching In


R. R. R. Moore complained that it was unfair to say the British were not abolitionists "because we cannot get rid of East I n l a slavery." After all, he said, "In order to effect it, we must go to the East India Company, and they must consult Mohammedans and Hindoos." In effect, Moore blamed Indian culture and customs for slavery, downplaying the role the East India Company had been assigned in its perpetuation by Adam, Pease, and others. He added, by way of explanation, that "A slave in the East Indies belongs to a servile caste, and is, therefore, much oppressed. He cannot approach within 50 or 60 yards of a man of a higher caste" (pp. 453-54). Abolishing slavery, some argued, would have little practical effect, and while the Convention and the BFASS should continue to raise the issue of Indian slavery with the public, in Parliament, and with Her Majesnr's Government, they should also attend to the implications of freedom for people with no means of subsistence or support beyond the patronage of their masters. Pease argued that abolition had to be sustainable and that the only way to do that was to bring under cultivation the third of the subcontinent still given over to "wild beasts." He added that, if this arere done, "You would then, by free labour, be able to produce such a supply of cotton and rice, as would put down slavery and the slave-tradethroughout the world" (p. 453). Again, the East Indies would redeem the West.19Another delegate added that climatic and political conltions combined with moral imperatives made India an ideal laboratory for decisively proving the Abolitionist article of faith that free labor was more productive and efficient than slave labor, and thus a site of redemption for both the freedpeople of the British Caribbean and their abolitionist supporters, and an endless source of sugar for English consumers and working classes. Held hostage by the shortsighted machinations of the old plantocracy, free labor would be vindicated through another act of abolition. India uiould rescue the British Caribbean- but not through migration of indentured laborers from one to the other, as had been proposed by Gladstone and his associates in Demerara.

"The whole tide of benevolence . . . stopped by a straw" On the first dav of the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention, Wendell Phillips, an American abolitionist from Massachusetts, had introduced a motion questioning the BFASS's decision not to recognize the credentials of the American women delegated by their anti-slavery societies to represent them at the Convention. Phillips argued that the BFASS's invitation


Chapter 5

had been issued to "friends of anti-slavery" everywhere, and that in the United States t h s had been assumed to include women abolitionists as well as men. Professor Adam, who would present his paper on slavery in British Inda the following day, seconded his motion, noting that, since his own credentials proceeded from the very societies that had appointed the excluded women, he could not proceed as a delegate if theirs were not recognized (p. 24). The gendered assumptions on whlch Adam, Knibb, Lushington, O'Connell, and all other speakers built their cases not only had been challenged on the first day of the convention, but were recognized as having been so challenged by the men who spoke for and against Phllips's motion. These speeches illuminate the ways freedom was being cast at the Convention as a patriarchal virtue and privilege, rooted in bourgeois notions of domesticity and its gendered hierarchies and division of labor. On that opening day, the Reverend J. Burnet warned the assembled abolitionists that "the Convention itself is imperiled in this discussion:' and he pleaded with them to "take a calm and deliberate view of the question-one of the most important that can be dscussed in connexion with the mere forms of this Convention" (p. 26). The motion, along with the calls for recognizing the American women abolitionists' claim to equal representation at this anti-slavery convention, was amended and evaded in the long run, but not before abolitionist men had enunciated the gender and national frameworks with which their variously herarchical, free labor ideologies were articulated. English abolitionists who opposed Phillips's motion implicitly claimed national seniority over-even paternity to- their American counterparts when they insisted that the latter respect local custom and usage. Burnet argued that "our American friends would add another laurel to those they have already reaped in the Anti-Slaver17 field, amid their deep self-denialand great suffering, were they to say at this moment, 'Let us not make shipwreck of our vessel, let us, not even for a moment, put her in a perilous sea. As we are in England let us act as England does; and when English abolitionists come to America, we shall expect the same ready conformity.'" He insisted, presumably calmly and firmly, that while Phillips and other American abolitionists were entitled to interpret the invitation sent by the BFASS according to their own national custom and usage, the British abolitionists were entitled to proceed with the Convention that they had organized as they had intended, without the introduction of American innovations. He told the delegates that it had never occurred to the BFASS invitation committee that "they were inviting ladies from

The "Saints" Come Marching In


any part of the globe, to take an essential part in the proceedings of the Convention. It never was contemplated in the formation of the Society; it never was practised in the doings of the Societv; it never was intended in the resolutions of the Society.'' Burnet further insisted that the BFASS intended no disrespect to the American women whose credentials it refused to recognize, averring that, "We place them on a level with our own lades." He observed, "Our wives and our daughters are in the same position with them. And surely, if they are placed in the same position as the ladies of England, it cannot be said that we have cast indignity upon them" (p. 26). He added, for the benefit of those who might invoke against his arguments the English precedent and present condition of rule by a queen, that, "It is not necessary, because we have a QUEEN, henceforth to clothe all the lades with office in the general management of our social affairs" (p. 27). The Reverend Elon Galusha of New York echoed Burnet's sentiments on this matter, submitting "to the consideration of our American female friends who are so deeply interested in the subject, the example of your noble QUEEN," who had, "by sanctioning her consort," Prince Albert, to chair an Anti-Slavery meeting, "showed her sense of propriety by putting her Head foremost in an assembly of gentlemen." Speaking for himself, Galusha added, "I have no objection to woman's being the neck to turn the head aright, but do not wish to see her assume the place of the head" (p. 28). Supporters of Phillips's amendment were quick to point out that custom was, as George Thompson put it, "flimsy" grounds for abolitionist arguments against includng women in their proceedings. An American delegate, Bradburn, asked the Convention "if it be right to set up the customs and habits, not to say prejudces, of Englishmen, as a standard, for the government, on this occasion, of Americans" and other nationals. He concluded, "I deprecate the principle of this objection. In America it would exclude from our Conr7entions all persons of colour; for thete, customs, habits, tastes, prejudices, would be outraged by their admission" (p. 29). This point was reiterated some time later by Ashurst, the radcal lawyer and Owenite sympathizer, who asked, What would be the result of such an argument employed in Virginia? Would they not say that slavery is the custom here, and therefore you have no right to place yourselves in opposition to the prejudices and customs of society in attempting to put it down? . . . You are convened to influence society upon a subject connected with the kindliest feelings of our nature; and being the first assembly met to shake hands with other nations, and employ your combined efforts to annihilate slavery


Chapter 5

throughout the world, are you to commence by saying, "we will take away the rights of one-half of creation"? (p. 37)

The Reverend A. Harvey of Glasgow rejected this line of reasoning, saying that, as it was for Phillips, it was with him "a question of conscience." He continued, "I have certain views in relation to the teaching of the word of God, and of the particular sphere in which woman is to act. I must say, whether I am right in my interpretation of the word of God or not, that my own decided convictions are, if I were to give a vote in favour of females sitting and deliberating in such an assembly as this, that I should be acting in opposition to the plain teaching of the word of God" (p. 38). So it came to this: one man's conscience against another's, and in the interest of unity and advancing the hgher cause for which they had convened, the apple of discord was to be voted out of sight and mind, even if it could not be banished from their proceedngs. Phillips's motion was dropped, after some further emotional debate and flag-waving. T h s is not surprising perhaps, but read against t h s opening day debate, both Knibb's patriarchal visions of freedom and post-emancipation conditions in Jamaica and their assimilation to other speakers' ends becomes less comfortably conventional than they otherwise might. The "Woman Question" was embedded in strategies and compromises over abolition's implications for sugar industry, empire, and labor relations in ways that are significant for elisions of race and gender and empire in the ways "labor" was cast and has been apprehended since at least 1833.

Free Trade and Worldwide Abolition The expansion of British empire and capitalism constrained and enabled British abolitionists' conflicting strategies for endng slavery, as well as their contradictory enunciations of freedom in the period immedately following emancipation in the British Caribbean, Mauritius, and the Cape Colony. The ways the British empire in India was being acquired and consolidated vexing to British abolitionists, who learned from Professor Adam's paper not only that slavery still throve there, but also that the British East Inda Company's servants had been complicit in legalizing and perpetuating it. However, the possibilities for abolition of slavery worldwide that India might offer were so enthusiastically advertised by boosters like Adam, Pease, Sarns, and other interested parties that even American

The "Saints" Come Marchlng In


delegates seemed to be persuaded. Obliquely reminding British associates that the British textile industry made cotton King, Wendell Phillips announced, "if we are successful in our present East Indian scheme, we shall terminate American slavery." H e added, "It is my conviction that the success of their enterprise in regard to East Indian cotton, has bound up with it the death warrant of slavery, and that [that] is to be signed in Liverpool" (p. 414). The visions of freedom offered by Jamaica-based Knibb lost to those abolitionists who looked to the newer British colonies and to free labor and free trade to achieve their common goal of universal abolition. John Gladstone had tried to get Indian workers to British Guiana, where he already had investments in existing sugar plantations and mills. Some abolitionists agreed with him and others like him that Trinidad and British Guiana had the land to produce sugar in abundance, but lacked adequate supplies of labor. They argued, however (and here they were remarkably close to the position of William Burnley), that this labor could be recruited from among the oppressed, Christianized free black populations of the United States and those Caribbean islands that had more laborers than land on which to employ them. Others proposed that India had both land and labor enough to grow sufficient sugar and cotton not only to meet the demand for both in Britain, but also indeed to prove that free labor was more economical than slavery, and so provoke its speedy demise in Brazil, Cuba, and the U.S. South. It would not be too much of a stretch for such British abolitionists to agree, however reluctantly, that perhaps Indian laborers could be transferred to the Caribbean, where so much had already been invested in sugar production, and where the success of the Great Experiment was a t stake. As Stephen Lushington observed when he announced the defeat of the Bill to allow again Indian indentured migration to Mauritius: Whether the time may come hereafter when it may be of advantage to that large population to emigrate from our territories in Hindostan to other parts of the globe, I will not say; but this I will sa): that I trust the hour will not arrive when permission will be granted by the Government of this countr): for one individual to quit that shore, until there is perfect safety against fraud and kidnapping, until there is security, that upon their passage they shall be supplied with the necessaries and the conveniences of life, and until upon their landmg, they may have justice.

(P' 540)

Along with strategies for eliminating slavery and the slave trade, British national and imperial identity, and citizenship in that nation and empire


Chapter s

were being constructed in this Anti-Slavery Convention. The race, class, and sex hierarchies embodied in the BFASS's membershp and reinforced in the convention's delegates became synonymous with citizenship, while the people absent from both (whether by oversight or design) were affirmed in their ancillary roles, subjects but not citizens. Considered in light of the proceedngs of the first day, such invocations were clearly marked as a male privilege, as well as a white and middle class one.20 The proceedngs of the second World Anti-Slavery Convention, held in 1843, indicate some of the pressures and tensions in British abolitionism between "home" and "the world" that indentured labor migration helped to resolve, reluctantly though it was so deployed, and precarious though thls resolution was. Most significant in this regard is the debate over free trade that erupted on the fourth day of the Convention. Like that over the "woman question" in 1840, this controversy threatened to compromise the credibility of BFASS in particular and the world anti-slavery cause in general. It arrayed those abolitionists who sought to use the resources of the imperial government in the crusade against slaver!^ in other countries and within other empires, and who still dominated the London Committee of the BFASS (Lushington and Scoble, for example) against those from towns and cities in the north of England and in Scotland who were oriented more toward domestic concerns. Some among the latter invoked the "condition" of the laboring poor in Britain and their claims to both cheap sugar and the sympathy of British abolitionists to argue that the BFASS should revise its policy on the movement to repeal the Sugar Acts. The Reverend T. Spencer led the charge, accusing the London Committee of having put other BFASS members in an untenable position when it engineered passage of a resolution supporting this policy on the last day of the 1840 Convention. It was wrong, he argued, to have acted in such a way as to lead "the persons emancipated to suppose, that their dependence for prosperity rested upon any protection we could give them."21Rather, he continued, they should know "that their reliance must be placed on their own good conduct, and on that free commercial intercourse upon whch all nations depend for prosperity." Continuing h s attack on the London Committee of the BFASS, Spencer observed that he would "be exceedngly sorry if the Convention, whle declaring the rights of man to freedom, should declare that trade shall not be free." He argued that "all restrictions whatever on trade are the slavery of merchants, and of all parties concerned; and that when you put restrictions which cause a high price upon sugar or anythng else, you impose a degree of slavery upon the poor

The "Saints" Come Marching In


people who have to pay the price." He concluded by noting, "if there be anything done to secure freedom for one class that imposes a burden upon another class, and causes them to work harder and to work longer than they would otherwise do, then we are only transferring slavery from one part of the earth to another" (1843: 131).2~ George Washngton Anstie endorsed Spencer's intervention, deploring the "impropriety of governments interfering with matters of trade" as the British government did in regulating the free flow of sugar produced outside the empire into the home markets. He added that in engineering the pro-regulation resolution in 1840 the London Committee had "done great injury to the anti-slavery cause in England." Anstie told the assembled delegates and spectators that not only he but also fellow-abolitionists"in the neighborhood of Devizes" regarded the London Committee's position on this matter "mischlevous in their tendency and effects." He explained, "We believe it is not just towards the labourers of t h s country, who are enduring at the present time deep distress, to oblige them to pay, by a restriction upon their employment, and a tax on their labour, for those coercive measures we wish to adopt for the dscouragement of slavery" (p. 124).2~ Other delegates vigorously endorsed the Spencer-Anstie challenge and in the process aligned free trade, alongside free labor, as both peculiarly national and Christian virtues.24Most notable among these was Richard Cobden, prominent member of Parliament, leader of the Anti-Corn Law League and the Manchester school of free traders, who was attending the Convention as a delegate for that city's abolitionists. Referring particularly to the dsastrous Niger Expedition spearheaded by Buxton and supported financially by the British Government, Cobden told those assembled that "everything you have done, or attempted to do, throu& the Government, has retarded your sublime mission more than anythng else that you have done."25Referring to the "numerous treaties" to promote anti-slavery sentiments in other European, African, and American government~:~Cobden asked if these diplomatic interventions had achieved their intended objective, or if they had "done evil, in exasperating other countries? Is not the conduct of the cruisers off the coast of Africa involving our Government in angry altercation with Portugal? and has it not brought us to the brink of a war with the United States, which might have plunged Christendom in carnage? What good have you obtained by going to the Government to put down others not of our opinion?" Implicitly drawing attention to the imperial pretensions to which British anti-slavery had acceded, Cobden urged the BFASS to return to the kind of public effort


Chapter 5

that had brought about an end to slavery in the British empire a decade earlier. "If we are true to our mission, true to our honest conviction, we may effect the object in view by acting on public opinion, without calling in Government interference to help us." He also pointed out that if the BFASS felt that preventing sale of slave-produced sugar in the home markets was an effective strategy for abolishing slavery worldwide, it would have to call for the country's withdrawal from all international commerce and trade, as no imports or exports were entirely untainted by slavery-least of all the domestic refining industry that processed Brazilian and Cuban (slave-produced)sugar for reexport to continental markets, and the textile industry, which (as Wendell Phillips had pointed out at the 1840 Convention) was the single largest consumer of American slave-grown cotton. Cobden argued that such a course would hurt not only British industry but also the cause of antislavery. He told the Convention that, if the British continued to exclude Brazilian sugar from the Home markets, "the Germans are ready to take the sugar direct instead of receiving it through England." Then the Brazilian, slavery-basedsugar industry and the trade in African slaves with which it was linked would continue to flourish, while the traffic proceeded with Germans, who would "have none of your scruples of morality . . . none of that zealous expression of abhorrence against slavery whlch you entertain, and which, if you only trade and mingle with the people involved in it, will put down slavery and other abominations" (pp. 145-46). Stephen Lushington and John Scoble responded to these attacks on their leadership and policies indcating the limits of the pragmatism they had shown with regard to the critique Knibb had enunciated in 1840. Agreeing with Spencer, Anstie, and Cobden that free trade was a good thing, they nevertheless appealed to the delegates' sentiments and morality in defending their stand on the sugar duties-much as Knibb had done three years earlier. As the critics pointed out, the BFASS policy on Brazilian and Cuban sugar put them in the awkward position of seeming to support continued protection of the very privileges and interest groups against which and against whom they had been battling for decades: planters, merchants, and middlemen connected with Britain's colonial sugar industries. Scoble tried to distance himself from this association, rejecting the charge that in supporting the policy he was representing the interests of any class against any other. Rather, he told the 1843 Convention, he acted and spoke to them "as the advocate of the native African ready to be torn

The "Saints" Come Marching In


from his home by the ruthless man-stealer; and I beseech you by your humanity; I beseech you by the religious principles which you advocate; I beseech ~7ouby all that is precious in human liberty, and all that is holy in our great and glorious religion, that you never consent, by any act of yours, to fetter a human being, or to subject a human being to degradation in any part of the world." He concluded by entreating his associates, "before they adopt principles which they suppose are good in themselves, and which are good when righteously applied, to look at the effect they will have upon the destinies of untold millions of the human race" (p. 33). Lushington, for his part, charged his critics with "acting as if the great object to be obtained were the production of sugar at a low price. . . . I wish that it were low, for the gratification and advantage of the poor.'' However, he added, I will not buy it at the expense of African blood. I might be willing to buy it at the loss of property belonging to British subjects; I might be willing, for the sake of the people of England, to say it is their right to enjoy this commodity, so essential to the happiness of themselves and their families, at whatever loss to the West India proprietors . . . but I am not prepared to say, that reduction of price should be attained by the revival of the slave-trade. . . . I will be led by no fear, I will be moved by no intimidation. I will bear the charge of being an advocate of monopol!; if by so doing I can put a stop to the horrors of the slave-trade, and a spell over the desolating of the coast of Africa. (p. 157)

He concluded by telling the Convention that, if they voted for the resolution proposed by Spencer condemning the resolution endorsing BFASS policy on Cuban and Brazilian sugar passed by the 1840 Convention, he would resign from the organization (p. 158). Just as Wendell Phillips's resolution was dropped after heated debate at the 1840 Convention through parliamentary procedure, Spencer's resolution for free trade was amended to the point where, as Stacey put it, the 1843 Convention effectively "expressed no opinion whatever upon the general question,'' He announced, at the end of the debate, that the "resolution of 1840 aflirmed a principle . . . and we have now, by not reversing that resolution, simply left the case where it stood then" (p. 173).Unlike the question of seating women delegates, however, this controversy over free trade pursued the BFASS out of the Convention and into the pages of the Repo~ter.~'In 1844 a special meeting of BFASS members was convened to finally determine whether or not the constitutional commitment to promoting sale and consumption of colonial staples produced by "free"


Chapter 5

labor rather than slave labor should be reconsidered and changed. Once again, and largely as a result of the London Committee's efforts, it was decided that the BFASS should maintain its position on this question. Whlle Indian indentured migration was never popular with the BFASS committee, it came to be accepted, grudgingly by some, as a means toward the end of proving the superiority of free over slave labor in the contexts of post-emancipation British Caribbean colonies and metropolitan agitation for "free" trade and cheap sugar. The BFASS did not merely challenge planters' representations of colonial conditions in the British Caribbean and India, but it also participated in defining the contexts in which migrants from India to the British Caribbean would be viewed and attended to. Its Constitution pledged the BFASS and the Reporter to supporting freedpeople in the British empire (provided they met expectations), and this (qualified) commitment affected the ways in which these anti-slavery activists viewed them, indentured labor migration, and the men and women from Asia and Africa whose presence threatened their position-and abolitionists' expectations. Indeed, the BFASS's interventions involved its members in commenting on and shaping labor relations, working condtions and political developments in England, as well. While the BFASS leadership tried to keep colonial and metropolitan or domestic spheres separate in the pages of the Reporter and in the two Conventions, such separation proved continually untenable and consistently problematical. As the proceedngs of the two World Anti-Slavery Conventions attest, empire and home kept intruding on and complicating each other.

Projecting Identities

Consider the scale of Asia reduced to these fragments: small white exclamations of minarets or the stone balls of temples in cane fields, and one can understand the self-mockeryand embarrassment of those who see these rites as parodic, even degenerate. These purists look on such ceremonies as gramarians look at a dialect, as cities look on provinces and empires on their colonies. Memory that yearns to join the centre, a limb remembering the body from which it has been severed. . . . In other words, the way that the Caribbean is still looked at, illegitimate, rootless, mongrelized. "No people there," to quote Froude, "in the true sense of the word." No people. Fragments and echoes of real people, unoriginal and broken. -Derek T.lialcott,"The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory"


A GROWING BODY of knowledge about I n d a generated by censuses and other surveys, the debates provoked by Gladstone's experiment and subsequent revelations about it shaped the protocols that were developed t o regulate all aspects of the system, from recruitment in India t o arbitration of disputes between employers and I n d a n workers in the colonies. By extension, information about India and debates about free labor shaped the condtions under which distinctive communities and cultures emerged among I n d a n s brought t o work o n colonial sugar plantations. Contemporary accounts, memories, histories, and ethnographies have attested eloquently t o the importance of tradtions, practices, and values deriving from migrants' experiences in India t o the emergence of distinctive Indian communities and cultures in those colonies t o which they migrated.' However, as Walcott's meditation o n the Antilles in history hauntingly suggests, their effects were dffuse and uncontainable. This chapter considers the significance for these processes of nvo related conditions. These are the purposes for which Indian indentured migrants were first introduced, and prevailing moral and political debates around slave and free labor that were both intensified and managed by their intro-


Chapter 6

Exodus In 1839, the report on immigration into British Guiana published in the Parliamentary Papers included tables listing the names of each of the Indian indentured migrants brought to the colony by Gladstone and his associates, along with their sex, age, religion, the estates to which they had been assigned, occupations on the estates, and wages and allowances. Reports compiled by the Office of the Protector of Emigrants in Calcutta (18711910) and Madras listed the emigrants' destinations, the districts in which they were born, those in which they were recruited, their sex, age, and caste. In the British Caribbean, to be Indan was to be first a sugar worker. This relational identity situated Indans, perhaps uncomfortably, withln the hlstory of Caribbean slavery, sugar, and British capitalism. Secondarily, to be Indian was to be a migrant, an alien from a space made known and accessible through the medation of British industry and enterprise. In India, in contrast, to be a laborer invoked other geographic and relational identities, also made known through British industry and enterprise, and sometimes situating laborers within other narratives of bondagc2 The dfference between these sets of data suggest the parameters in which administrators in British Caribbean colonies and British Inda operated, the values and identities they assigned migrants, and the categories and con&tions to which they attached importance. They also indicate the discursive frameworks -overlapping but not coterminous -which migrants themselves had to negotiate and in whlch they had to operate. The majority of Indian indentured migrants who went to Trinidad and British Guiana embarked from Calcutta, as British Caribbean employers came to prefer indentured workers recruited in northern Inda to those recruited in the southern peninsular region who embarked from Madras. After 1862, Trinidad and British Guiana closed their recruiting agencies in Madras, and recruitment for these colonies in the latter region almost ceased. Thanks to a combination of high levels (historically and throughout the indenture period) of seasonal and long-term migration, Indian government policies restricting recruitment by overseas colonial employers to certain areas, and competition from a shifting constellation of recruiters for Assam tea plantations and other industries in the subcontinent, most of those who left for Trinidad and British Guiana from Calcutta were recruited in the following dstricts in the eastern part of the United Provinces and Bihar: Basti, Azarngarh, Ghazipur, Gonda, Fyzabad, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur, Lucknow, Shahabad; Baraich, Partabgarh, Rae

Projecting Identities


Bareli, Sultanpur, Benares, Bara Banki, Kanpur, and Patna. K. 0 . Laurence has estimated that, of the nearly 271,900 recruits registrations recorded in the Calcutta emigration department records, nearly 198,000 (73 percent) were registered in the first ten districts above, and nearly 56,500 (21 percent) in Kanpur, Benares, and Patna.3 Furthermore, the majority of those registered were born in the same districts, although there was also considerable registration of recruits born in Bengal, the Central Provinces, and elsewhere in India. Indentured migrants to the British Caribbean appear to have been drawn from a representative cross-section of these regions' populations, various castes being represented in the migration in proportions commensurate with those of the recruiting regions in general. Families appear not to have emigrated together. In 1838 the Master Pilot at Calcutta testified that, to his mind, the migrants who boarded the British Guiana-bound Whitby ''were generally composed of ignorant creatures from the interior, kidnapped or cajoled away for the benefit of a set of crimps who laugh at humanity for the sake of p r ~ f i t . "Some ~ twenty years later, Jane Swinton, widow of the captain of the Salsette, which had transported migrants to Trinidad wrote, "out of the 324 Coolies who came on board, I do not believe five, at most, either know where they are going, or what is to be their occupation.'' She added, "My heart often yearned over them, in thlnlung of the way they were entrapped, as many of them asked me to recommend them to get a good situation on their arrival at the island."j Of the 324 passengers (274 of whom were adults) who left Calcutta aboard the Salsette on March 17, 1858,120 (more than one third) died en route. These two eyewitness reports fit with and illustrate that strand of the literature, contemporary and historical, that in language reminiscent of abolitionist accounts of the African slave trade has cast indentured migrants as victims of unscrupulous merchants and their procurers. It was accounts such as these that in 1840 disposed Colonial Secretary Russell against allowing resumption of I n d a n indentured migration to Mauritius and British Guiana, the lobbying of their sugar industries notwithstanding, on the grounds that it might "lead to a dreadful loss of life on the one hand, or, on the other, to a new system of ~lavery."~ Subsequently, other critics of the system, contemporaries and historians alike, have elaborated on this theme, arguing that indentured emigrants were victims of simple deception or, more broadly, of British revenue settlement and land tenure policies of the nineteenth century, and baclung their argument with evidence from ethnographic surveys and other such enterprises of colonial rule in Inda.


Chapter 6

Another strand in the literature, however, argues that whatever the reasons for their irnrniserated condition, indentured emigration represented a "Great Escape" for enterprising Indians, an opportunity to turn colonial subordination at home to their own advantage abroad-and that women, in particular, may have seized on it as such? As outlined in Chapter 2 , J. P. Grant, who was later to be appointed Protector of Emigrants at Calcutta, worried that "To confine the laborers of a Province to the soil of that Province, or the laborers of a collection of Provinces, such as our Indian Empire consists of, to the soil of the same, seems to me, but a lower degree of the barbarous system whch attaches a serf to the lord on whose soil he was born, or imposes special restrictions on the movements of free coloured native subjects." Grant had concluded that, if migration were disallowed, "we have opinions before us that Mauritius must be ruined; and it is unquestionable that the mass of our Indian fellow subjects are no longer free men as b e f ~ r e . "Elaborating ~ on Grant's analytical framework, subsequent investigators, supporters, and some historians have argued that Indian indentured emigrants had made the rational choice to take advantage of their imperial subjecthood and that, minor and removable obstacles aside, had been able to maximize opportunities to an extent that in India, paralyzed by tyrannies of caste and tradition, would have been impossible? Represented both as victims and as rational maximizers of opportunity throughout the history of indentured emigration, Indan indentured emigrants probably included fair shares of both. Complicating the picture is evidence that awareness of condtions in overseas colonies grew, not only because recruitment appears to have been concentrated in certain areas, but also because migrants were returning to Inda, either to settle or to visit-and sometimes to act as recruiters them~elves.'~ Recent research indcates that multiple trips benveen Inda and the Caribbean by people who had made the initial voyage under indentures were not uncommon. In 1851, the first year Indians were eligible for repatriation, twelve of those who took the opportunity to return to Inda came back to British Guiana within the year. K. 0. Laurence, whose research is based primarily in colonial immigration and Indian Emigration Department annual reports and other documents, suggests that between 1875 and 1894 3,479 Indians re-migrated to British Guiana, with another 2,347 migrating there after having served out indentures in another colony. Over the same period, 866 Indians re-migrated to Trinidad, with another 1,753 migrating there after having served in another colony. In 1893, 306 Indans returned under indenture to British Guiana, along with 253 who had been indentured in

Projecting Identities


other colonies." Conditions in India, specifically in the areas of primary recruiting for British Guiana and Trinidad, were not unchanging or unchanged by this migration. In 1883 George A. Grierson was assigned to inspect and report on the condtion of recruitment depots through Bengal Presidency. His report and diary suggest that returned migrants were common in some districts from which others were recruited. In Shahabad, for example, in which district a relatively high proportion of recruits were registered (and one of the few districts in which the bulk of those registered also resided), Grierson claimed that there had been "a healthy inflow of returned emigrants, which has made emigration so popular as it is."12 He felt that returned emigrants could make admirable recruiters if they had been successful in the colonies, and puzzled over colonial employers' failure to capitalize on this resource, so effectively exploited by Assam tea estates.13He did, however, encounter one recruiter who had been in an importing colony-although not necessarily as an indentured migrant himself. Ghura Khan, who ran a sub-depot near Baksar, had been born in British Guiana, and after his father's death in 1858 returned to India with his mother to live with h s uncle. He reemigrated to the colony with seven other family members in 1861. On his mother's death in 1872, he returned to India, and had been about to reemigrate again when the Agent for British Guiana persuaded him to stay on as a recruiter. In the course of his inspection tour, Grierson met a number of returned emigrants and recorded in his diary what he remembered of h s conversations with them. For the most part, those he met and reported on (they had gone to Mauritius, Jamaica, or British Guiana) had managed to save money overseas. Some had corresponded with their families and sent remittances home from overseas, and these had all been received. Indeed, he wrote, "In every village to which I went, three or four letters, which were shown to me, had been received, during the past year or two, from one colony or another. To all these, I was told, answers had been despatched."14 Grierson added that ensuring ready means of communication between emigrants and those they left behind would facilitate recruitment and improve the standing of indentured emigration in districts where, unlike Shahabad, it was not already good. Some of the returned emigrants Grierson met had spent all their money and were re-indenturing. Others, like Gobardhan Pathak, Nankhu, Tulsi Bhagat, Sukhiya, and Ghura Khan, had invested it in land or shops on their return, and in "getting back into caste," to which end they had


Chapter 6

apparently spent between Rs. IOO and Rs. 300. Thanks to such cases, Grierson concluded, in districts like Shahabad and Patna, with regard to colonial emigration, the main facts are clearly and universally understood; namely, that a coolie goes out for five years; that if he stays for ten he gets a free passage home; that he is well treated, his caste respected, and comes home rich. The climate of the colonies is delightful, work plentiful and highly paid; and that stories, circulated some years ago, about mimz'ui ka tel (the oil extracted from a coolie's head by hanging him upside down), are all lies. When people are asked how they know all this, the reply always is that so-and-sowent off to the Colonies so many years ago, came back, abused Hindustan and praised the colony and went out again, this time with his wife and children.15 Grierson reported that, "In Shahabad, where emigration is popular, the recruiters have little trouble. Twelve-sixteenths of the recruits search for the recruiters, and voluntarily emigrate. I have known instances of men coming forty miles to look for a sub-depot." However, he continued, "In other districts it is just the reverse. There, there are few returned emigrants, and little is known about the colonies," and recruiters had to beware of zamindurs, anxious not to lose their people, as well as a hostile con~tabulary.~~ While Grierson may not have heard, or chose not to record unfavorable accounts of indentured emigration from returned emigrants or from emigrants' relatives, such information was probably circulating in districts like Shahabad and Patna, along with the rest, and had an equally immeasurable impact on recruitment and migrants' adjustment to life as plantation laborers overseas. Laurence's research and Grierson's notes suggest that by the 1880s repeat migrants were likely to number among those sent out on each ship leaving Calcutta for the British Caribbean colonies. A Colonial Office publication of the same period suggest what this meant to some contemporaries. In 1889 J. M. Laing, a veteran surgeon superintendent aboard ships transporting I n l a n indentured migrants to the British Caribbean, wrote for the edification of unseasoned colleagues a handbook on maintaining discipline and health aboard ships transporting indentured emigrants from India. When problems arose, as they inevitably would, he advised, "look out for some return coolie as the instigator. They will often give themselves airs among the other coolies, who will naturally believe that they know all about it from having been on previous voyages, and they are generally too knowing or too great cowards to complain themselves, but put some other coolie up to doing so." He continued:

Projecting Identities


Sometimes Brahmins and other high caste Hindoos will come up and say that they cannot eat food prepared in the galley, and this, although they have been told before embarking that their food would be thus prepared. Often this man's prejudice (his caste has been broken by the mere fact of his having lived in the depot even up country) can be satisfied by putting him into the galley as a bandharrie, tf the complaznt has not been made for thatpurpose and there is a vacancy. He added, in a footnote: "N.B.: There are a good many pseudo-brahmans about." l 7 Like surgeon superintendent Laing, employers in the colonies were not always pleased about re-indenturing immigrants from India.18 During the mid-188os, sugar prices throughout the world fell as a result of sugar from bounty-fed European sugar beet production, and market wages in Trinidad and British Guiana dropped by as much as a third, to below the minimum stipulated for indentured laborers. Some estates employing indentured labor tried, illegally, to depress indentured workers' wages, or to increase the size of the tasks assigned them, which effected the same ends. Indentured workers who refused or failed to meet the new conditions imposed on them were brought in large numbers before the courts for punishment: fines or imprisonment. In the 1880s, planters' complaints against indentured workers for such transgressions escalated, some employers attributing the unrest to re-indentured veterans among the indentured laborer^.'^ Employers in the British Caribbean shared Laing's suspicions not only of re-indentured returned immigrants but also of high caste, specifically Brahmin immigrants. In 1889, the Government Secretary for British Guiana complained to the Calcutta agent, Robert Mitchell, that "the introduction of priests, high castes, coolies, members of the learned professions, decayed gentry, beggars, dancers, acrobats, vagrant musicians, men of inferior physique or health, persons not previously accustomed to outdoor manual, much less field labour, has been more numerous during the past five years or so." In 1890, the Planters' Association of British Guiana passed a resolution instructing their Emigration Agent in Calcutta to prevent such recruits from indenturing themselves for terms in their colony. Mitchell, for his part, tried to persuade his employers that caste was not a very good indicator of migrants' ability or willingness to perform the kind of labor they required, and in 1896 the Colonial Office rejected British Caribbean employers' claims that the low wages actually earned by Indian indentured workers on their plantations were due to the workers' unsuit-


Chapter 6

ability and poor selection by agents in C a l ~ u t t aNevertheless, .~~ managers in the British Caribbean continued to suspect that pre-migration associations and hierarchical values shared by all migrants from Inda could undermine their own authority as employers or supervisors on the plantations. There is evidence that they tried either to break these "traditional" ties of deference and loyalty, or turn them to their own ad~antage.~' Implicit in all this is an essentialist assumption about the culture and societies that migrants (whether enslaved, indentured, or "free") left behind, and a static conception of culture.22One indcation that the communities from whch indentured emigrants were recruited were not unchanging or unchanged by decades of recruitment for indentured emigration is the emergence of emigration-specific cultural strategies, such as that described by Grierson in 1883. He noted that, "About caste, the people have invented a curious theory regarding ship-board life, which shows the adaptability of native customs." Asked how people from castes (Sonars, for example) whose members would not eat food cooked by Brahmins managed on board ships where most of the coolung was done by Brahmins, Grierson was told that "a man can eat anythng on board-ship. A ship is like the temple of Jagannath, where there are not caste restrictions." He added, I admit that this rather staggered me, but I have since enquired from respectable men, and without doubt this belief is spreading. It is said to have originated with the steamer journey from Calcutta to Orissa, which is one of the incidents of a pilgrimage to Jagannath. O n board these ships the theory was first introduced, as one of the incidents of the pilgrimage, and is now being extended to emigrant ships, to the great benefit of the Colonies.23

Together with the rest of Grierson's report, this story suggests a number of things. One: that, contemporary and scholarly assessments notwithstanding, caste was not a good predictor of people's willingness to emigrate under indenture. Two: that, at least in the Bhojpuri-speaking region of India, rural populations were by no means stationary and cultural forms and practices by no means unchanging. People were on the move, performing pilgrimages, looking for employment on both seasonal and longer terms, migrating to and from agricultural regions, towns, and cities. Three: that familiarity with conditions in overseas colonies was increasing in some recruitment areas. However, the areas in which concentrated recruitment for indentured migration took place changed over time, along with local factors like competition over labor with recruiters for tea estates in Assam

Projecting Identities


and coal mines in Chota Nagpur, as well as railroad construction further afield?4 In the twentieth century, recruiters were allegedly going as far afield as Delhi to fill colonial demand for indentured labor, and meeting with the kinds of hostility Grierson observed in parts of Bengal Presidency in 1883.2~Even if people in some regions were increasingly aware of what indenturing involved, those in or from other regions were not necessarily so situated. In other words, there was not necessarily a steady improvement over time in migrants' preparedness for indentured migration. However glorified Grierson's image of the colonies and plantation labor, his report and dary suggest that, by 1883, condtions of indentured emigraton were not entirely unknown in the districts from which most emigrants were recruited. All these myriad factors had implications for the ways employers of Indian indentured migrants treated them, and for their affiliations and institution-buildng both on and off the plantations. Historians have sought to decode data on caste and regional origins as if they will explain present-day Caribbean-Indan communities and cultures. Regardng Indian women, migrants and settlers alike, the tendency is especially pronounced and casts into stark relief the problems with the entire enterprise. Statistical data compiled from emigration and immigration records suggest that the majority of migrating women were not accompanying male relatives. Other documentary evidence suggests that colonial officials, plantation personnel, and other observers in India, on the migration ships, and in the importing colonies viewed alliances between indentured men and women with considerable skepticism, characterizing them as illegitimate unions springing from depot and ship conditions and InQans' lust and immorality, indicative of migrants' degraded conQtion and corrupting influence.26Some recruiting agents in InQa complained bitterly that InQan magistrates interfered with the registration of women and the embarkation of emigrant ships because they were convinced that the women were either being coerced into indentured emigration or fleeing the authority of fathers or husbands. Opponents of indentured emigration charged that recruits were being "scripted," told by "upcountry" recruiters how to respond not only to magistrates', doctors', and Protectors' questions, but also to those that colonial Emigration Agents might ask. Grierson's field notes suggest that records on recruits were poorly maintained, sometimes clearly fraudulent, and intended to meet requirements rather than to record recruits' vital statisticse2'Nonetheless, many historians, like most contemporary observers, have concluded that migrating women


Chapter 6

were either respectable women led astray-kidnapped, seduced, or possibly widows escaping unbearable conditions at home-or (already) fallen women, prostitutes, the "sweepings of the bazaars" and lock hospitals. Others have evaded such characterizations, instead focusing on exploring some of the implications of the unequal sex ratio that for the duration of indentured periods characterized this migration, predcated on the assumption that men made better plantation laborers than women. Rhoda Reddock and Patricia Mohammed have suggested that under these conditions Indian women were peculiarly vulnerable to sexually predatory men (Indian, white, or Afro-Caribbean) on colonial plantations, and to patriarchally minded Indan men in Indian villages off them. They also suggest that in the context of Indians' isolation on and near plantations where they came to represent an increasingly large proportion of the labor force, Indian women's scarcity could give them more control over their own labor and sexuality than they could hope to have when and where sex ratios were more even. They argue that in colonial Trinidad Indian labor and culture appeared devalued and emasculated by indenture and isolation on plantations, juridical marginalization, and colonial policy. For example, like many contemporaries, they point out that colonial law recognized only those marriages between Indians that were performed by a Christian clergyman or registered by an authorized civil servant such as the Protector of Immigrants. Accordng to Reddock, no marriages were registered until 1887, and even after that few unions between Indian men and women conformed' to these legal standards, thus contributing to the perception that InQan immigrants were amoral and promiscuous. Marriages performed by Muslim and Hindu clergy were not recognized by law until 1936 and 194s respectively, but Indans campaigned for recognition from the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Reddock and Mohammed argue that, in campaigning to get those marriages performed according to Muslim and Hindu custom and laws recognized by the colonial state, Indian men were reclaiming the patriarchal authority they had lost in the course of emigration and indentured labor on sugar plantation^.^^ Reddock argues persuasively that culture and community formation must be seen as discursively constituted by struggles not only among immigrant and creole-Indan men and women, but also between them and others segments of Trinidad's population. However, insofar as these studies assume for Indian women indentured migrants the pre-migration condition of domestic-patriarchal and rural-agrarian bondage, they reproduce and reinforce assumptions about the static quality of Indian culture

Projecting Identities


and Indan people introduced and elaborated since the mid-nineteenth century.29 By extension, they then also contribute to making I n d a n indentured migration overseas seem anomalous in, separate from, and only marginally significant t o Indian labor history specifically, and to the contours of Indian colo~lialhistory more generally. Implicit in the "new system of slavery" narratives is the assumption that traditionally (in other words, before British intervention) people in the recruiting regions were largely stationary, and that indentured emigration was just another facet of the ongoing displacement and immiseration precipitated by colonialism. Uprooted, these migrants to overseas colonies like Trinidad and British Guiana struggled to reproduce remembered village communities to the best of their abilities, the unpromising ground of local plantation conditions ~ e r m i t t i n gImplicit .~~ in the Whiggish "great escape'' account of emigrants' motivations is the functionalist and developmentalist notion that, freed from the heavy hand of custom, these Indian indentured migrants transplanted to their new worlds those cultural forms and features they valued, rejecting oppressive features of Indian society. Neither alternative seems satisfactory on its own. While a continuous history of massive deception seems implausible, there is also evidence that cases of abduction and entrapment continued throughout the seventy years.31 Furthermore, people in the recruiting dstricts were not unaffected by land and revenue settlements, industrial and agricultural developments, railroad construction, and other effects and technologies of colonial rule.32 All this may have had implications for community formation among Indian indentured migrants and their descendants in the British Caribbean and elsewhere, although those predcated on push and pull models of motivation for emigration are unsatisfying, in part because such causation models seem clumsy. It is problematical to trace present-day cultural values and practices of Indo-Caribbeans back to origins in premigration India when the migration took place over an extended period, and when the bulk of migrants appear not to have traveled as families or village groups. More compelling is the suggestion that crucial institutional and political developments took place dialogically in the period between the 1880s and 1947. This period saw the founding of the Indian National Congress (1885) and related oppositional movements, and missionary activity by both Arya Samaj and Sanatan Dharm among overseas Indian communities. Indeed, the significance of communities of Indians overseas for the emergence of Indian nationalism and its strategies in the subcontinent, as well as the significance of these in their turn for crystallization


Chapter 6

of Indian identities in overseas British (and other European) colonies, remains relatively unexplored, although s u g g e s t i ~ e . ~ ~ Popular and scholarly concern with origins implicitly denies agency to migrants and their descendants-and more generally to people in history. It overshadows the processes and struggles whereby people living in Trinidad and British Guiana from 1845 to 1917 constituted themselves at various times and in various places along the multiple and sometimes overlapping axes of sex, age, marital status, "race" or ethnicity, conditions of migration and time of arrival, relation to the means of production, sexual orientation, and so on. While the documentary evidence on migrants' backgrounds and origins is voluminous, it is also unevenly reliable, and problematically presumes unchanging material and discursive con&tions in Indan recruitment zones over a period of more than seventy years. The very processes, ongoing, of recruitment and immigration challenge notions of stasis in both sending and receiving regions' economies, social relations, and cultures. Further, these regions were not autonomous, but rather linked with and through colonial and imperial alliances, rivalries, and discourses that were themselves fluid, unstable, and emergent.

The Role of Indan Indentured Workers in British Guiana and Trinidad As argued in preceding chapters, colonial and metropolitan investors in British Caribbean sugar argued that they needed indentured immigrants from India and elsewhere not only to cultivate, harvest, and process sugar cane, but also for employers' declaration of their "independence," as John Gladstone put it, of the wage-labor force already in situ. As Afro-Caribbean people's performance and potential as "free" workers were deliberately devalued, Indian working men were extolled for their docility, industriousness, and respect for the sanctity of contracts. Planters and other supporters of indentured labor immigration piously and pointedly wished that Afro-Caribbeans would follow their example. But thls was only one side of the story-telling. Once Indian workers were on the plantations, and with time, planters' and administrators' praises were leavened with distaste and dssatisfaction. They complained that, while In&ans were steadier workers than those of African descent, they were also avaricious, jealous, less robust, and given to killing their

Projecting Identities


not t o mention dishonest, idolatrous, and filthy. In 1884, a leading member of Trinidad's French-Creole elite wrote: The Hindoos, such as I have been able to observe them in the colony, are a mild and timid race, obsequious, wanting in firmness and perseverance, more prudent and wily than energetic and straightforward. They are intelligent, rather industrious and saving. . . . A distinctive trait in the character of the Coolie is insincerity; one cannot depend upon what he says. The private life of those who have not yet been influenced by civilization is, generall~depraved and disgusting.35 H e added, however, "It is highly encouraging . . . t o find that not a few of those who have settled in the island have adopted a better mode of living." Greater experience of Indian workers led t o further refinement and elaboration of these characterizations; thus Trinidad planters could eventually ask that the agents in India send fewer recruits from Madras. As one visitor t o Trinidad explained in his travelogue, the indentured workers from Calcutta had proved "valuable, steady labourers, while those from Madras are for the most part useless . . . the scunl and refuse of the city of Madras-stray waifs who have sunk very low in their lives before they find their way into the hands of the shpping agent." However, he added, "Some of these . . . make very good house servants, as butlers and cooks, and some of them turn out good grooms."36 The point is that, while colonial planting interests recognized that I n d a n laborers were enabling them t o become independent of Afro-Caribbean workers, they were not altogether satisfied with I n d a n workers either. In fact, planters and the governors who represented them were sufficiently dssatisfied with all Indian workers, whether from Calcutta or Madras, to send an agent to C h n a in the early 185os, at colonial expense, to look into opportunities for recruiting workers there. Chinese workers, these indentured immigration enthusiasts agreed, were "highly intelligent and discerning, steady labour"fullv alive t o the necessity ers, and well versed in the tillage of the of authority for their regulation and control . . . generally tractable and manageable:' strong, tough, and "not averse to foreigner^."^^ T h s was not the first time that people interested in British Caribbean sugar had turned t o C h n a . In fact, as noted in Chapter 2 , a Parliamentary committee had investigated the possibility of recruiting Chnese workers for British Caribbean plantations as early as 1810, although the colonial assemblies had not been notified of their efforts.39 The Committee's report noted that, at the time, regular immigration from China would be dfficult


Chapter 6

for a variety of reasons. These included the twin Qfficulties of getting C h nese women to emigrate and giving Chinese men access to women (most of those they had in mind were presumably slaves) already resident in the sugar colonies. Besides the fact that such emigration was illegal in China, the Committee felt that, at the time, it would be unwise and prejudicial to British trade to pursue the matter. By 1851, when British Guiana and Trinidad sent a recruitment scout there, British subjects' relations with the Chnese government had changed; while the latter still frowned on emigration of Chlnese, ignoring the proscriptions presented less risk to British interests in China. In h s reports to Governor Barkly of British Guiana (apparently the point man for the operation) the agent, James White, very explicitly and exhaustively described ways of getting around the prohibition~?~ W h t e was also very explicit in urging the superiority of Chnese workers over those from Inda. He disparaged Bengah workers, in particular, in terms that suggest that he was not alone in h s disapproval and that he had a receptive audence at home. He sent Governor Barkly a copy of an article he had come across in the Bengal Hurkaru, whch he felt vindicated the West Inda planters' costly quest for Chnese workers. Accordng to the article, a local planter had employed a number of labourers from different parts of the country, Bengalees, Dangars, and Chamars, in addition to whom he had a gang of 20 Chinese. The rate at which each of these classes were employed was Rs 2.12 per month to the Bengalees, Rs 2 to the Dangars, & Rs 4 to the Chamars, the Chinese being engaged at Rs 8 each . . . he began to make comparisons, the land and labour generally that was allotted to each being precisely similar; and the result showed more exactly than he could have well conceived that the Dangars did as much as 2 Bengalees, the Chamars equal to the Dangars, and the Chinese overran 2 Chamars; the result fully proving the greater economy of the higher-paid [Chinese] labourer, his 8 rupees a month being equivalent to 12 rupees to the Dangars, or 38 rupees to the Bengalee.41

The author concluded that thls "supports the belief that Chinese labourers . . . would be found very useful on the sugar plantations of the West Indies." Characterizations of Indian migrants were directly linked to the role they were to play in the sugar colonies in relation to Afro-Caribbean people, whom planters were determined to discipline and punish. If India became the primary recruiting field for British Caribbean planters, it was not because Indians' characters, as laborers or otherwise, had made them ideal immigrants; rather, it was because Indian workers were, for political reasons, more readly accessible than workers from other parts of the

Projecting Identities


world. The primary documents on Indian indentured labor migration are full of claims that Indans were innately suited to agricultural labor, to talung direction, and to worlung steadly and readily at low wages. However, these arguments were justifications for seelung and securing Indan indentured workers, especially once other fields proved inaccessible, and after importation of contract workers had become a permanent strategy for producing sugar on plantations. Once Indians had been integrated into the colonial economy, and had become permanent fixtures in the colony generally, attitudes toward them hardened. This is evident in the official report on what knokvn was officially known as the Coolie Disturbances of 1884, as we shall see.

The Slave/Free Labor Problem Charges that indentured labor migration was merely a new kind of slavery had brought Gladstone's experiment to an abrupt and ignominious end. It was imperative, therefore, that planters and other interested parties I s tinguish indentured labor from slavery. They pointed out that prospective recruits were examined not only by a doctor to ensure they were fit, but also by a magistrate charged with ensuring that they understood and accepted the terms of their contracts: they were not, indeed could not be wrenched from their homes, enticed into indenture, or otherwise lied to. In addtion, the sugar interests argued, recruits were fed and clothed before embarlung; on the voyage they were attended to by a doctor and allotted enough space to be reasonably comfortable, and unmarried men and women were given separate accommodations. Furthermore, the planters and their supporters pointed out, efforts were made to give the Indan workers familiar food and clothes, not on117 on the voyage but also once they had arrived on the plantation, where they were guaranteed work for 280 days of the year, guaranteed wages when they worked, and given free medcal care and medcines when they were ill. In addition to defending themselves in this way, planting interests fought back with charges of their own. Thev suggested that opponents of the system sought to interfere with Indans' rights as free British subjects to sell their labor to the highest bidder, and to make contracts. British Caribbean sugar interests elaborated this argument with other claims calculated to appeal to at least some elements of the anti-slavery movement itself. They further suggested that indentured migration enabled heathen Indi-


Chapter 6

ans to escape penury and hunger, and that in this way, it actually helped realize Britain's imperial, civilizing mission. Thls argument was persuasive to many who had once opposed both slavery and indentured labor migration, as disturbing reports about social condtions in Inda began to appear in the anti-slavery press. Some Colonial British Caribbean and metropolitan observers came to feel that, given Indan conditions, the chance to labor in overseas British colonies, even if under indenture, was a valuable opportunity, for the workers concerned, for employers, and for Britain. As an English Baptist missionary to Trinidad explained in 1866, It is a fact that all the Coolies who are not confirmed drunkards save money, are well fed, and well clothed; and it is also a fact that some have gone back to India with 300, and some with 5,000dollars hard cash, while many others who remain in Trinidad become freeholders and shopkeepers. In leaving their country, the Coolies have most certainly bettered their condition; and, what is of higher importance, they have been delivered, to a great extent, from the intolerable yoke and curse of caste, and as a consequence, the Coolies in Trinidad are in a much better position to receive the Gospel, with aU its unspeakable blessings, than they are in their own country.42

Using and broadcasting such stories and arguments, supporters of Indian indentured migration argued that they were malung it possible for the benighted Indians to uplift themselves beyond any state they could hope to achieve in India, with its teeming population and depraved traditions. While the sugar interests were pressing for resumption of Indian indentured immigration, they were also facing the prospect of losing the protection that favorable low tariffs for British colonial sugar had long guaranteed them. They warned that without immigration, protective tariffs, or preferably both, British colonial sugar, produced by free labor, would be unable to compete with Brazilian and Cuban slave-produced sugar; the brave moral stand Britain had taken in abolishing slavery in 1833 would be seriously compromised; and slave labor would appear to triumph over its moral superior, free labor. By the time the Sugar Acts were passed, in 1846, John Scoble himself had become convinced that duly regulated and strictly voluntary indentured migration to British sugar colonies was important to the continuing crusade against slavery (or slave-grown sugar) and the slave trade?3 As the century wore on and for a variety of reasons, indentured labor migration was not only condemned by some as enslavement, but supported by others as civilizing. Investigators appointed by Parliament or by

Projecting Identities


colonial governments noted salutary changes wrought in Indian workers after a term under indenture in the colonies. Testifying before a Parliamentary Committee of inquiry in 1909,Oliver Warner, who had been Assistant Protector of Immigrants in Trinidad from 1869 to 1881 and Colonial recruiting agent in Calcutta from 1881until 1898, noted: When a coolie is leaving India, as I stand on the gangwa): you see him coming and touching my feet. When the coolie returns, he puts his hand out and says, "How do you do? How are you? I know Mr. So-and-so in Trinidad; he told me to say 'How do you do' to you." There is the difference between a coolie leaving India and a coolie returning.44

John Gladstone had lost to the anti-slavery movement because his scheme seemed too much like slavery; planters who later followed his example had learned to evade if not to refute the same criticism.They emphasized the opportunities that indentured labor migration offered to Indian workers. Indentured labor migration could be sold as a "positive good:' in stark contrast to slavery, which could only be peddled-to anyone besides its staunchest defenders-as a "necessary evil." Still, the system continued to be condemned as itself a new lund of slavery. The terms of this debate in the 1840s shaped subsequent debates on the system, throughout its seventy-year history and after. For example, in 1919, soon after indentured labor migration was abolished, Tzmheri, the journal of the British Guiana Agricultural and Commercial Society, devoted an entire issue to considering the system, its impact, and the prospects for the colony now that it was no longer all0wed.4~ All the authors whose articles were included aligned themselves with either the "new kind of slavery" position or the "positive good" argument. Arthur Hill lamented the prohibition of indenture and, to make his point, told a story about an elderly couple returning to India with their creole son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren after many years in the British Caribbean?6 Upon returning to their village, the older couple discover that the friends and relatives they had hoped to see are no longer there (the implication is that they are all dead); miserable, they return to Calcutta to try to get back to the colony. The agent is willing to sign on the younger couple, but the older pair will have to pay their passage to the colon!; which they cannot afford. The group is unwilling to break up; and, so, Hill wrote, they depart. . . . Most likely the younger folk will, when they have all got through the savings they brought with them, procure work amongst the thousands of coolies coaling ships at the Kidderpore Docks. Probably, too, they will in time get


Chapter 6

accustomed to the life, the excessive heat, the hard work, the small wage, the never varying dhal-bhat and chupatties for food. But before this state of resignation is attained they will brood on the life they lived at "Kothi," the morning coffee, the creole vegetables with which they varied their diet.

Hill went on to suggest that, given the greater opportunities available to Indian workers in the colonies, it was astonishing that the system had finally fallen to the argument that it was, as he put it, "degrading to Indian National Sentiment."47 In the same issue, J. A. Luckhoo, Barrister at Law, was less certain that the migrants benefited from their terms under indenture.48He roundly condemned the system of indentured labor, and rejoiced that it had finally, in his words, "been brought to a well-merited end," along with "the stigma that had attached itself to the race and lowered its dgnity in the eyes of the world."49 However, he also observed that the children of indentured workers enjoyed in British Guiana advantages which they would never have known in India. He wrote: Immigration into this Colony with all its demoralising tendencies has had one important effect. It gave . . . "trade mobility" to the children of those who emigrated. Away from India, living under new conditions, the immigrant was not so much bound by the rigid customs that restricted his trade mobility at home, in consequence although he for the most part, did not forsake his old trade [of cultivation], yet often enough his children chose new professions. The effect of this has been very beneficial.50

The fact that Luckhoo hlmself was descended from indentured immigrants seemed to support this argument, while from an edtorial point of view inclusion of an article by a respectable Indo-Caribbean lawyer reflected favorably on the system, whatever he might actually have to say. All the authors, including Luckhoo, cited official documents in making their arguments: primarily reports of committees of inquiry periodcally appointed to investigate charges of abuse brought against the system.

Hosay The limits and possibilities that migration and life as laborers presented to Indians in Trinidad are illustrated in the official treatment of incidents that occurred in 1884 during celebration of Mohurrum, or "Hosay" as it was locally and popularly known. On October 30, 1884, troops near San

Projecting Identities


Fernando fired on a procession of Indians, mostly indentured and "free" plantation workers apparently, celebrating Hosay by carrying torches and "tazias" to the sea.51According to the official report on the incident, an ordinance had recently been passed expressly forbidding the celebrants from entering the town carrying lighted torches; the celebrants appeared to have ignored the proclamation. When stopped outside the town by police they refused to put the torches out and disperse, even when the riot act was read; confronted with thls mutinous behavior, the authorities present ordered the police to open fire. Twelve people were killed and 107 were treated for injuries from buckshot wounds.52 The report was written by an investigator sent by the Colonial Office. The Colonial Office had been obliged to take this action, not least because, early in November, a concerned Trinidadan had sent a horrified account of what he called "an atrocious massacre" to the President of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, who forwarded it to the Times, which printed it within a month of the c ~ n f r o n t a t i o nIn . ~ ~addition, news that the Trinidad authorities had tried to regulate celebration of Hosay in the first place might have led to problems with the Indian government, since it had made protection of Indians' rights to practice their religion a condition for colonial participation in the indentured labor scheme. In short, news that Trinidad police had fired on and killed Indians celebrating a religious festival threatened to increase opposition to the entire system of indentured labor migration, in Britain and in India. The investigator the Colonial Office chose was Sir H. W. Norman, Governor of Jamaica, a former officer in the Indian Army who still spoke some Hindi and who had as a subaltern, as he himself explained, "commanded a detachment of native soldiers, mainly Hindoos, regulating and escorting a procession of Mahomedan soldiers, which passed through ~~ report endorsed crowds of Sikhs and Hindustani H i n d o o ~ . "Norman's the actions of the Trinidad authorities, not only in attempting to regulate celebration of Hosay, but also in opening fire on October 30. He argued that the processions as they had developed in Trinidad were no longer religious in character, and that in attempting to regulate them the Trinidad authorities had not broken their promise to the Indian government. He explained: Care had been taken in framing the rules that no part of them should interfere in any respect with the religious obligations of the Mahomedans, but I may remark that of the Indian immigrants in Trinidad, barely a fifth are Mahomedans, that some of the most respectable Mahomedans in the Island hold aloof from the pro-


Chapter 6

cession, either because they consider it unsanctioned by their faith, or because of the boisterous nature of the procession; in fact, the ceremony, although it is purely appertaining to the Mahomedans, is one in which most of the persons engaged are Hindoos; . . . the whole celebration has in Trinidad long been regarded as a sort of national Indian demonstration of a rather turbulent character.55

Norman went on to explain that t h s aspect of the celebrations was both a result of and exacerbated by growing self-confidence among Trinidad Indians. He wrote: After a residence of some time in Trinidad the Coolie not only becomes a man of a more independent spirit than he was when in India, but according to some reliable evidence, he often becomes somewhat overbearing. . . . There can be no doubt that the Coolies feel their power, or rather, I should sah have an exaggerated idea of that power.56

In fact, on the strength of his experience with Indians in their native land, Norman concluded that the disturbances occurred partly because, as he put it, the "Coolies" had been too "indulged." He noted that often "bodies of Coolies" had come to the Immigration Office to communicate their grievances, "carrying their cutlasses and other agricultural implements." This had "encouraged among them the notion that they were powerful and could do what they pleased." Norman noted that an officer of Indian experience, accustomed to a position of control over natives, would have quietly insisted upon the Coolies quitting the office, and would have told them that when one or two of their number come back in a quiet respectful way, and without their implements or sticks, they would be attended to. I do not doubt that they would have complied, and thus learned to behave properly in future .57

In celebrating Hosay, which Norman called Mohurrum, Trinidad Indians were indicating that they were not merely laborers, however much their employers and governors sought to confine them to that In developing a celebration in which not only the Muslim minority but also Hindus and African-Creoles could participate, indentured workers in Trinidad were breaking with traditional forms of Indian cultural expression known to Norman, an old India hand with specific experience of supervising "native" troops overseeing religious processions. Through Hosay, Indian workers had become not only "overbearing" but also unpredictable, possibly ungovernable. When the stipendiary Magistrate for San Fernando together with the Inspector Commandant of Police (who

Projecting Identities


had apparently gone to that town from Port of Spain for the occasion), ordered that the police fire, they were aiming at the celebrants' pretensions to self-definiti~n.~~ This intention is even clearer in the decision, made by the Colonial Office, to send Norman, an imperial civil servant with experience in the Indian Army, to investigate and report on the incident. Thanks to his army experience, Norman could credibly address and, as it turned out, refute any implication that in interfering in the procession the Trinidad authorities had interfered with Indians' right to engage in their traditional religious practices. His background lent authority to his final recommendation to the Colonial Office regarding the government of Trinidad. He proposed that in future Protectors of Immigrants be recruited from among former Indian Army or administration officers, who would know how effectively to "attend to" Indians in Trinidad without indulging them, and so preclude the possibility of future confrontation^.^^ He established that Hosay in Trinidad was a deviant and largely nonreligious celebration attended mostly by plantation laborers. Norman had known and supervised Indians in India; he was governor of Jamaica, a British Caribbean colony that had imported Indian indentured workers and had a small Indian population. His experience qualified him to judge what was authentic Indian practice and what was not. He appeared better qualified, at any rate, than the Indian indentured workers themselves. Norman's report put the events of October 1884 in the context of ongoing and sometimes violent eruptions of race and class tensions between Indian plantation workers (free and indentured), Afro-Caribbean urban proletariat, and urban bourgeois (Afro-Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean alike), linlung them to earlier clashes between Camboulay celebrants and authorities as well as to Indo-Caribbean Muslim merchants' objections to the increasingly carnivalesque quality of observances of Hosay. Historian Kelvin Singh's research on Trinidad newspapers' reports of class and ethnicity in t h s period also indicates that the events were complex and overdetermined.61 My reading of Norman's report is deliberately reductive, intended not to give a full picture of the dynamics involved, but rather to hghlight one of its authorizing genealogies, one strand in Norman's construction of his own authority and by extension, that of the document and history he produced in connection with these events. Knowledge, however imperfect, of conditions on the other side of the world was accumulated and dsseminated not only in the migrations and


Chapter 6

memories of repatriating and repeat-emigrants from Inda to the British Caribbean colonies, but also in the form of data like Grierson's report and other writings-scholarly, popular, and administrative reports, censuses, surveys, maps, and digests of all of these-as well as in the circulating personnel of imperial administration, from soldiers to governors. The implications of all t h s information for the ways Indans were legislated on, administered, punished, and rewarded-and, by extension, for the ways in which they responded to and negotiated these efforts-are provocative, although as yet little explored. If migrants' communities and cultures took on what appear to be dstinctively Indan forms, the extent to which such forms were privileged by employers and by government administrators, as well as by other people and interests in both India and the Caribbean colonies, needs to be considered. After all, Indians' perceived difference from Afro- and Euro-Caribbean people was one of the reasons for their being in the Caribbean in the first place. What this dfference meant, and the ways it was staged and performed itself dffered and changed along with the circumstances, resources, and agendas of the women and men who invoked or rejected it.

Casting Labor in the Imperial Mold

The sigh of History rises over ruins, not over landscapes, and in the Antilles there are few ruins to sigh over, apart from the ruins of sugar estates and abandoned forts. . . . A century looked at a landscape furious with vegetation in the wrong light and with the wrong eye. . . . These delicate engravings of sugar mills and harbours, of native women in costume, are seen as a part of History, that History which looked over the shoulder of the engraver and, later, the photographer. History can alter the eye and the moving hand to conform a view of itself; it can rename places for the nostalgia in an echo; it can temper the glare of tropical light to elegiac monotony in prose, the tone of judgement in Conrad, in the travel journals of Froude. -Derek Walcott, "The Antilles: Fragments of Epic iMemory"


EXAMINES four discrete sets of documents produced in the course of political debates over indentured migration from I n l a between the 1830s and 1912, by men separated from each other geographlcally, chronologically, and ideologically. I t focuses specifically o n their sometimes contradictory, often complementary, and always strategic deployments of notions of gender, domesticity, race, empire, and nation. The chapter explores the significance of these strategic mobilizations for the crystallization of a masculine, racially and nationally-inflected category of "laborerx-for scripting and "casting" the role of laborer in the post-abolition British imperial context. Different as these authors were they elaborated-as well as varied-on the same post-abolition imperial dscourses o n community. They shared a space and authority in British imperial archives, as well as a will t o use this resource t o "alter the eye and moving hand" of their contemporaries and of historians, in order t o "conform a view" of labor t o their own ends. In Allegories of Empire, Jenny Sharpe has written, "The challenge that a colonial scene of writing poses t o academic feminism is one of trans-


Chapter 7

forming the way we tend to view women's history. To accept this challenge means that we should not substitute a female subject for a male one; instead we should demonstrate the contradictions, discontinuities, indeed, the accidents of history."' What I am doing here is not unlike what Sharpe is advocating, but I am approaching it from a different angle. I argue that when the people I describe invoke categories in ways that imply a stable meaning and promote the fiction of universal truth, they are consciously deploying partial and contingent associations or meanings to their own ends. My use of "casting" in the title, while gesturing to the commodification of labor in the narrowest sense, is intended to evoke the theatrical sense of the term-the cultural registers and processes that articulate with and manage that commodification. In "Feminist Reflections on Deconstructive Ethnography:' Kamala Visweswaran explains her own explicit use of "the dramatic metaphor" as intended "to highlight interpretation as an act, that is, to show not only how interpretation is deeply and interestedly constructed, but also how knowledge and understanding are contingent on performan~e."~ This chapter invokes the dramatic metaphor to similar ends, although in different ways. "Casting Labor" traces, in the specific context of the archive on Indian indentured migration, how the role of labor was cast in the epic story of world-historic capital, for an imperial audence and stage. I focus on the ways employers, anti-slavery activists, imperial administrators, and Indian nationalists wrote and spoke about labor and about people and cultures in terms of the idealized category of labor by involung, deploying, and elaborating on specific, congealed knowledge about colonized subjects. I start by returning briefly to John Gladstone's ill-fated efforts to send Indian indentured laborers to his sugar plantations in British Guiana. In the next sections, I examine critiques of In&an indentured migration articulated by anti-slaveryactivists bent on preventing resumption of the system, and consider the implications of these abolitionist frameworks and formulations for some of the regulations introduced into the refurbished system, and for subsequent debates over its merits and shortcomings. I conclude in 1912, with Gopal Krishna Gokhale's motion before the Legislative Council of the Governor General of India to abolish Indian indentured migration. These various deployments of Indian indentured migration generally, and Indian women migrants specifically, highlight the portability and malleability of even this narrowly defined, seemingly specific category of labor.

Casting Labor in the Imperial Mold


Gladstone's Experiment Revisited When Gladstone first wrote to his nephew's firm in Calcutta to inquire about getting Indan indentured workers for his Demerara sugar plantations, he had indcated that he would prefer to have equal numbers of men and women sent over, provided that all agreed to work in the cane fields. He had explained that there were schools on each of his estates "for the education of the children, and the instruction of their parents in the knowledge of their religious duties," and that marriage was encouraged. He had added that in the event that "improper conduct on the part of the people takes place, there are public stipendiary magistrates who take cognizance of such, and judge between them and their employer^."^ Whether the improper conduct to which Gladstone referred here was sexual or industrial is unclear, and suggestive of the ways he and others like him apprehended and deployed sex, labor, morality, and law in the wake of the abolition of slavery. In their efforts to aid Gladstone, Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co, replied that they could easily supply Gladstone with the IOO laborers he sought. Although dubious that they would be able to secure even "so many as half of the number provided with wives," the firm admitted that, "as, however, our friends at the Isle of France have always dscouraged the men being so accompanied, we are not very well able to say how far the women might be induced to The following March (1837), Gladstone instructed his nephew's company to secure 150 indentured laborers on his and a few associates' behalf. Noting that "In Demerara the females are employed in the field as well as the men," Gladstone wrote that "if the female coolies will engage to work there, a larger proportion may be sent, say two women to three men, or if desired, equal number^."^ If Gillanders & Arbuthnot could not recruit women who would agree to work in the fields, Gladstone directed, "then the proportion sent to the Isle of France, of one female to nine or ten men, for cooking and washing is enough." He added, in a footnote, that "If women embark in the larger proportion, and engage to work in the field, they will then have to receive wages, though at a lower rate than the men, and other allowances in the same manner."6 Tko months later he reiterated his interest in and readiness to hire women to work in his cane fields, adding this time that the women recruited should be "either married or old enough to be so; provided they agree to work in the field, as I understand they do in Inda on the inchgo plantations."'


Chapter 7

Significant here is what is absent from Gladstone's vision and instructions. He was not assuming either that women could not or that they should not perform waged field labor. It was not unconventional for slave women to work in the fields. After abolition of the slave trade it became increasingly common, to the point where, in some localities in certain colonies (Jamaica, for example), women outnumbered men in some plantations' field-labor forces (although not in either Trinidad or British Guiana)? Gladstone was not averse to hiring women, in part, perhaps, because of that experience with women's field labor. Indeed, in trying to persuade the Colonial Office of the need for Indian indentured immigration, Gladstone made a point of noting and repeating that he and his associates "apprehended that the female labourers who now work in the field, will not continue to do In other words, precisely because they allegedly feared that emancipation would result in the withdrawal of women from field labor, indentured immigration was essential. However, even if Gladstone felt this way, others did not. His initial willingness to bring Indian women to his plantations had other contexts, sources, and audiences as well. One was the course and experience of the successful campaign for abolition of slavery, an important dimension of which had effectively highlighted both the sanctity of family and the violence-moral, physical, and socialdone to families (cast, normatively, as heterosexual, conjugal, and multigenerational kin-based units of production and reproduction), and to colonial cultures and societies by the slave trade and slavery.1° This family-centric abolitionist strategy resonated powerfully with disruptions experienced in Britain itself, where, as indices as varied as the reforms of the 183os, Chartist agitation and studies of the condition of the English working class variously suggest, new organizations of production, labor, environment, and space were precipitating not only ambiguities and debates on nature, society, and the sexual dvision of labor, but also distinctly universalizing bourgeois resolutions." The timing and nature of Gladstone's scheme, as well as the unabated suspicion with which abolitionists and others continued to view West Indian planters and their activities, suggest that Gladstone may have had an audience primed to just such concerns in mind when he wrote to Under-Secretary Grey in March 1837. Gladstone observed that while his sugar-planting rivals in Mauritius took on only one Indian woman for every ten male indentured migrants, "these women being solely employed in cooking and washing: he and his West Indian associates, "are of the opinion that it would be much to the comfort of these people, as well as ensure correct conduct in British Guiana,

Casting Labor in the Imperial Mold


if the proportion of females was extended to one-third, being all married, to be taken with the men."12 Having learned the lessons of the precedng decade, Gladstone and his associates were careful to attend to matters of propriety, as well as personal profit and imperial prosperity. Another important context in which to consider Gladstone's apparent attitudes toward women field laborers and Indian women migrants is the purpose for which, according to his own letters, he was seeking Indian labor in the first place. In going to the trouble and expense of importing workers from India, Gladstone and his associates were not only securing for themselves more dependent, manipulable field hands, but thev were also, and more significantly, staging for apprentices' and freedpeople's benefit a performance of planters' superior resources, power, and willingness to use them to get the labor they wanted at prices and under condtions acceptable to them.13 Gladstone explained to Grev in March 183: that, when women withdrew from field labor after the end of apprenticeship, men would not step in to take on their rightful responsibilities as heads of household and providers for their families. Rather, he prophesied, "the men are very likely to form combinations for the purpose of restricting the ordinary and necessary periods of labour, as well as to compel the planters to pay them wages, at rates much above their means or abilini to comply with." Gladstone added that he and other West Indian sugar planters were further handicapped by imperial expansion and free trade ideology, noting that they now had to contend as well "with the sugars of our East India possessions, admitted at the same rate of duty, when the cost of labour is not one-fourth part" of the cost of labor in British Guiana. Under these circumstances, he explained: only by a supply being obtained of other free labourers, to such an extent as may excite competition, and induce our present apprentices to believe that it may become practicable to carry forward the cultivation on a moderate scale independent of their aid, that they are likely to be influenced for such terms of remuneration as the planters may be enabled to give them.14 it is

As Gladstone and other employers were insisting all over the empire, laborers were "free" insofar as they were not, by custom or law, bound in perpetuity to any one place or person, as African-descended people in the British Caribbean had been. Laborers were free insofar as men and women could sell their labor to whomever they chose, and they were free insofar as they acted individually. For Gladstone, collective action or "combination" represented abuse, rather than responsible exercise of freedom. Appren-


Chapter 7

tices and free blacks were vilified by him and others like him as unreliable and lazy on the grounds that they abused their privileges and exercised their freedom to ends that were potentially "ruinous" to colonial, indeed to imperial prosperity. These were the "circumstances" that, Gladstone and his agents in Calcutta argued, made Indan "Hill Coolies" seem peculiarly well-suited for his purposes. They were "a docile, quiet, orderly, and able-bodied people," already accustomed to worlung "as labourers" away from their homes and families.15 As noted earlier, the purposes for which Gladstone recruited Indian indentured migrants profoundly shaped the terms in which the system would come to be evaluated and debated in later years. If Gladstone had been open to hiring women indentured migrants, this apparent inclusiveness was idosyncratic, exceptional, and probably staged. Whatever his motives, like other employers elsewhere and in a variety of industries, he evidently assumed that the women would be less productive laborers than Indian men would be: he proposed to pay Indan women less for their field labor than he would pay their male counterparts. Even if women worked as many hours as men did, they would be paid less, on the grounds that the labor itself (classified as "light" work, or "women's" work) was of less value or less onerous than that performed by men. This commonly held conviction articulated with another one, that Indan women could not be procured for overseas indentured labor because Indan culture constrained their mobility. This intersection enabled prospective employers and their agents to import primarily men from Inda (as they had before from Africa). It also enabled their critics to condemn these efforts toward maximizing efficiency on the grounds that they violated family and humanity. Moreover, the contested terrains created by the intersecting valuations of women's labor and Indian culture left intact planters' and abolitionists' shared hierarchical assumptions and biases about both women and race in the British empire, assumptions and biases that defined their battles to control the meaning, application, and limits of free labor, indeed, of freedom, liberty, independence, and associated concepts generally. Even though critics denounced Indian indentured migration in the name of family values, and the Indian Government allowed the migration to proceed only if women comprised set proportions of prospective indentured migrants, planters and other prospective employers had seemed reluctant to hire women. As far as planters were concerned, Indians were not intended to settle in importing colonies, at least not initially. They were to enable some colonial sugar planters to discipline or mold to their own

Casting Labor in the Imperial Mold


specifications the now free Afro-Caribbean laboring population of certain (allegedly land rich, labor scarce) colonies, and return to India. While a handful of imperial bureaucrats and thinkers may have favored schemes of cross-colonization among colonial subjects, for at least the first twenty-five years of the system neither Indian government officials nor West InQan planters and officials made much effort to encourage Indan indentured migrants to settle overseas. Planters wanted only male laborers, and the official archives bulge with their complaints about women laborers-the difficulty and expense of recruiting, transporting, and maintaining them and the trouble and strife they introduced into plantation life. Critics complained, almost as voluminously, that by allowing allegedly unnatural sex ratios among migrants, Indian indentured migration, like chattel slavery before it, encouraged a wide range of sexual activites and relationships that they judged immoral.16

Women, Sex, and Depravity: The Anti-Slavery Society Weighs In As mentioned in Chapter 5, a bill to facilitate resumption of indentured migration from India to Mauritius was introduced in Parliament in 1840. Immediately, the Reporter published a front page discussion of the bill, the history of indentured migration to Mauritius and the West Indies, and the dangers attending to both. One of the author's main concerns was "the transportation of large numbers of men without women." Targeting colonial secretary John Russell, the author asked: Is it possible that he contemplates the renewal of this revolting system; and again are we to see cargoes of our felloxv-creatures in motion to a distant region, with two women to a hundred men? . . . [T]o feed the cupidlty of a few hundred sugargrowers, is a British statesman going to sanction the extensive rupture of family ties, and to foster an accumulating inequality of the sexes, which is known to be one of the most fruitful sources of vice, depopulation and wretchedness? l7

Having thus raised the specters of the slave trade and slavery (so recently abolished and at such cost to British consumers and rates payers), and asserted the socially corrosive consequences of predominantly male migration, the Reporter returned to elaborate on the themes in the following months. In the very next issue, John Scoble (who was probably the author of


Chapter 7

the first article) wrote an incendiary expos6 of Indian indentured migration t o Mauritius. Citing figures culled from recently published Parliamentary Papers, Scoble noted that of 19,050 Indian indentured migrants in Mauritius, "only 205 were women!" Breathlessly, he continued: It is easy to conceive, that, from this frightful disparity of the sexes, the most horrible and revolting depravity and demoralization must necessarily ensue; and that such large masses of ignorant and degraded beings must carry with them a most corrupting influence on others. I must confess that I cannot contemplate this fact without a shudder; and the most painful conviction is forced on my mind that, however immoral the negro in Mauritius was, he has been rendered more so by his contact with the Coolies.18 What is noteworthy here for my purposes is Scoble's characterization of colonial labor. Indian indentured migration is cast as sexually corrupting the susceptible emancipated populations of the former slave colonies, and compromising the imperial project for social and moral uplift inaugurated with the "Great Experiment" of 1833. Women were central t o this drama. When "free" from parental or spousal authority, Indian women migrants were demonized as the agents of corruption. Conjugally disposed, however, women, whether Indian or black, were pursued as the most effective barriers t o corruption, and carriers of the seeds of stability, morality, and culture. Scoble expanded o n this theme in a third article o n Indian indentured migration, published in March 1840. Referring explicitly t o the recently-published correspondence between Gladstone and both the Colonial Office and hls Calcutta agents, Scoble noted that what West Indian planters wanted was not immigrants but labmers: If women will work in the field they may go; but if not, they will have men onlyno wives, no children-but merely eight or ten women to a hundred men, for washing, coohng, &c. Such were the instructions sent by Messrs. Gladstone and Co. to their agents at Calcutta, and they have been acted on beyond the letter. . . . We might speak in strong terms of this heartless sacrifice of human happiness, this reckless laceration of domestic sympathies, this fearful generation of profligacy and crime: but we pass these topics by for the present, to animadvert on the atrocious waste of life involved in this system. Turning his attentions again t o the consequences of male-dominated Indian indentured migration, Scoble argued that the "West India body," as he called them, had never intended that their "colonial peasantry" should

Casting Labor in the Imperial Mold


"keep up its own numbers, by the natural increase of human kind." He continued: If they had ever entertained the idea of providing for the culture of the colonies out of the natural increase of the labouring population, they would have cherished marriage, encouraged family residence, and favoured the acquisition of domestic comforts; all of which would have been only practically saying, "we want to see quickly a race of strong lads for our cane fields," . . . They are looking for labourers to emigrate. And they will be constantly looking to the same source. They no more mean that the immigrants shall become family people, that their children shall yield the next race of cultivators, than they have meant the same thing respecting the emancipated slaves. If they did, they would sa>;"we want a temporary emigration; an influx of population for a few years only, with as many women as men, or young married people with their children.'' They say no such thing19

Setting planters' post-abolition labor policies in the context of the social reproduction of labor in this way enabled Scoble to establish that planters simply wanted hands, and that the consequences for workers was the equivalent of "social death."20In the process, Scoble also established that free labor, in contrast to slave labor, is properly a male domain. Women figure in Scoble's vision of virtuous society and economy, as in Knibb's, in conjunction with the reproduction of labor and society, not as free laborers in their own right. They figure as wives who, properly, attend to meeting the myriad needs of their laboring men, thus reproducing labor on a daily basis, and as mothers who, properly, attend to producing and raising future generations of laboring men and wives. This gendered division of labor was further elaborated in an article from the Calcutta-basedFriend of India. Approvingly reprinted in the Repmter under the title, "EXPORTATION OF COOLIES: A CRY FROM INDIA," the article excoriated Indan indentured migration on the novel grounds that it enabled men to evade their responsibilities as heads of households. Its author indignantly demanded that the Indian Government explain "upon what principle they venture to permit the men to desert their families; upon what ground of political or commercial expediency they have allowed five thousand six hundred and eighty-six females and families, in one year, to be abandoned to utter de~titution."~~ Anticipating that indentured emigration from India would soon be re-opened, the author went on to suggest that, if and when it resumed, the Indian government should oblige the "merchants to give security to the Superintendent of Police in Calcutta, for the support of the families whom they are reducing to destitution, by abstracting the head. The merchant who ships


Chapter 7

the men on commission should be bound by the state to pay a monthly sum out of the wages of the men, into the hands of the superintendent." Neatly illustrating the conflation of conjugal domesticity and free labor in the abolitionist communities' opposition to Indian indentured migration, he added, "and we verily believe, that this demand would soon put a stop to the trade." Elsewhere in the article, the author made clear that as far as he was concerned, indentured emigration was tantamount to entrapment and fraud, and recruits were dupes. Unlike most opponents of the system, however, he managed to avoid infantilizing potential emigrants-by presenting them as prospective "deadbeat dads:' encouraged in evasion of their domestic obligations by men like colonial sugar planters, who repeatedly demonstrated their own larger-scale social irresponsibility. Obliquely includng in thls company those imperial policymakers who would re-open Indian indentured emigration, the author concluded by observing that: Hundreds of thousands of poor helpless women and children are now to be abandoned to want, that the growth of sugar in the West Indies may not languish. It is in vain to shut our eyes to the calamities which impend on India. It was in this manner that the slave-trade crept in. . . . We must tread the same circle; and after years of the most poignant misery, come to the same result, that, in the case of the new as of the old trade, THE ONLY PATH OF SAFETY LIES IN ABSOLLTTE PROHIBITION.22 For the author of the Friend of India article, for Scoble (and presumably for their audience of anti-slavery crusaders as well), the prospect of women detached from male authority, working for wages and the reproduction of their own labor, whether as agricultural or industrial laborers or as prostitutes, was alarming, indeed threatening to their bourgeois notions of order, virtue, and civility. Thus did those who organized and lobbied in the name of the "emancipated peasantry" of the former slave colonies engender "free labor" in the first years after the end of slavery.

Women, Sex, and Agency: The Empire Responds In response to allegations like Scoble's, and mindful of suspicions that indentured migrants had been kidnapped or deceived into emigrating, sugar estate proprietors and managers accused recruiters of sending them the wrong sort of women-namely prostitutes. For their part, recruiters and emigration agents in India implicitly conceded to the charge, blaming over-zealous native magistrates for impedng recruitment of "respectable"

Casting Labor in the Imperial Mold


women, and the Indian government for requiring such high proportions of women emigrants in the first place. Indian government officers in turn pointed their fingers at what they knew, textually and perhaps through their own experiences, of Indan culture and society. As an official Indian Government despatch to the Secretary of State for India noted in 1875, "inducing a sufficient proportion of respectable women to accompany the male emigrants" had always been a difficult question which has never ceased to occupy the attention both of the Colonial and the Indian Governments. Those classes of Indians who make up the most respectable and best of the emigrants belong to castes who are accustomed to wander forth in search of service, and, when they do so, do not take their women with them. The statutory proportion of women to men is hardly ever made up without enlisting large numbers of prostitute, or women of the lowest classes in whom habits of "honesty and decency" are non-existent . . . we should add that, in proportion as the standard of the male emigrants is raised, that is, the more of them belonging to the cultivating and cottier and the fewer to the coolie classes, the greater the difficulty will be. Of the latter classes it would be comparatively easy to obtain a fair supply of women, but these are the very classes and castes of women which are most lax in their morals.23

For policy makers and administrators there were evidently two dmensions to the "woman question" in Indan indentured migration. The first involved striking the correct balance between the labor needs of employers, the sexual requirements of migrant Indian men, and the social responsibilities and paternalist obligations of government. It appeared to be susceptible to "rational," empirical solution, especially given the abundance of data on the condition of all segments of Indan society being generated by the Indan Government it~elf.2~ However, the second dimension of the woman question, uncovered by those very data, complicated rational solution of the numbers problem because it involved, allegedly, the very essence of Indian culture: the confinement of women to narrowly defined domestic spaces. Accordng to this colonial knowledge of India, respectable women would not venture amray from patriarchal protection and authorit): nor across the often-cited kalapani, if they could help itand few respectable men could be found to make their wives take this allegedly fearsome step. The only women who would consider emigration were the already-degraded, already-commodified \\lomen of the notorious "bazaars," urban free zones, alien to respectable rural Indians and respectable suburban-cantonments-dnrelling Europeans As others, most notably Rhoda Reddock and Brij La1 for the British


Chapter 7

Caribbean and Fiji respectively, have pointed out, even if women seemed to animate the primary literature on Indian indentured migration, it was rather as symbols than as people with complicated lives, backgrounds, hopes, strategies, and prospects. Women operate in the primary archival literature as vessels, mela-rarely as hstorical agents. Writing early in the twentieth century, in a self-consciously sensationalist but still representative vein, C. F. Andrews observed that in Fiji, "The Hindu woman in thls country is like a rudderless vessel with its mast broken onto the rocks; or like a canoe being whirled down the rapids of a great river without a controlling hand. She passes from one man to another, and has lost even the sense of shame in doing so."26 Andrews's image of Indian women as rudderless vessels is powerfully evocative of the role assigned them in the archves on I n l a n indentured migration. They appear as the m e l u m through whch some proscribed sexual practices-same-sex and interracial sex-were to be controlled, as well as the m e l u m through which other proscribed sexual and social behaviors-for example, prostitution, promiscuity, and their alleged consequences like jealousy and violence-were introduced and proliferated.Women also appear as the largely mute bearers of national culture, not only for their roles in social reproduction, but also for the purposes of cross-cultural comparison and assessment. A rare note of lssent was sounded in 1883 by George Grierson, in his official Report on Colonial Emgration from the Bengal Presidency. Grierson suggested that there was "too great a tendency to treat a native woman as an ignorant child." He argued that, "She is not an unreasoning brute, if she be a little dull of comprehension." Grierson felt that magistrates and protectors of emigrants sometimes exceeded their authority and inappropriately slowed down recruitment when they took steps to ensure that the women who appeared before them for registration as prospective indentured emigrants were not running away from their husbands or families. According to Grierson: A native woman, married or single, has a perfect pourer to enter into a contract binding on herself, and (to quote the Collector of Shahabad on this subject) "women have at law a right like men to go where they please, and I would not take it away." A wife will not leave her husband in this county without extreme pressure of some kind or another, and if she insists on going, after being fully warned of the consequences of the step she is taking, I do not think that any Government official has the right to stop

Here Grierson appears to be suggesting that I n l a n women qualified as agents, as quintessentially free laborers in their own right, and not only as

Casting Labor in the Imperial Mold


either flotsam, or means to other ends, the "vessels" of Andrews's imagination. Deviating as it does from the bulk of the relevant primary literature, this passage suggests how central sexualization of women and the labor they performed was to emergent bourgeois-capitalist notions of free labor, freedom, and nation.

Some Imperial Resolutions of the Woman, Labor, Race, and National Questionsz8 In 1912, Gopal Krishna Gokhale brought a motion in the Legislative Council of the Governor-General of India calling for the abolition of Indian indentured migration. Like opponents of the system from Scoble on, Gokhale protested that: the victims of the system-I can call them by no other name-are generally simple, ignorant, illiterate, resourceless people belonging to the poorest classes of this country and . . . they are induced to enter . . . entrapped into entering-into these agreements by the unscrupulous representations of wily recruiters, who are paid so much per head for the labour they supply and whose interest in them ceases the moment they are handed to the emigration agents . . . a system so wholly opposed to modern sentiments of justice and humanity is a grave blot on the civilization of any country that tolerates it.29

Here, Gokhale implicitly invoked colonial knowledge about the condition of "resourceless people" from India's "poorest classes" in order to represent indentured emigrants as helpless victims, first of their environment, and then of greedy compatriots who, on commission, wooed them to the registration office and then abandoned them to the mercies of still other middlemen and further unknown indignities. Gokhale's evocation of both sensational and didactic accounts of prostitution-innocents seduced by crafty procurers for ignoble purposes-is quite deliberate. Significantly, however, in his rendition, the victimized protagonists are not women but "laborersn-those recruited for indentured migration as well as those displaced by their deployment-and India.30 One of the grounds on which Gokhale condemned indentured emigration was the moral consequences of the male-dominated indentured emigration. H e noted that ''very few respectable women can be got to go these long distances; and that the statutory proportion of women to men was achieved "by including women of admittedly loose morals," the results of which, he added, he preferred "to leave to the imagination than


Chapter 7

describe." Quoting Edward Jenluns's dsapproving 1870 account of indentured migration, Gokhale observed that under indentured migration, "women are not recruited for any special work, and they certainly are not taken there for ornamental purposes."31 He added that Jenluns had also written, "of the immoral relations existing not only between many of these women and the men for whom they are taken from this country, but also between them and some of the planters themselves and their overseers," and observed, "It is a shocking affair altogether, a considerable part of the population in some of these colonies being practically illegitimate." Gokhale proceeded to his final and central objection to indentured emigration: that it was, to use his words, "degrading to the people of India from a national point of view" (emphasis added). He continued: Wherever the system exists, there the Indians are only known as coolies, no matter what their position might be. Now, . . . there are disabilities enough in all conscience attaching to our position in this country . . . why must this additional brand be put upon our brow before the rest of the civilized world? I am sure, if only the Government will exercise a little imagination and realise our feeling in the matter, it will see the necessity of abolishing the system as soon as p0ssible.3~

This strategic association of women, reputation, and national honor in Gokhale's speech calling for the abolition of indentured emigration is significant on several grounds. First, women are conspicuously absent from the speech, and where they do appear they operate, familiarly, as vessels: as the means by which depravity was allegedly perpetrated and perpetuated among overseas indentured Indians, as the emblems of national shame and, potentially (if by involung them indentured migration were to be abolished), of national redemption as well. However, it was not perceived (or alleged) immorality alone that degraded indentured migration in the eyes of these Indian nationalists. Early in his speech, Gokhale had noted that the system "came into existence to take the place of slave labour after the abolition of slavery," representing conditions "under which even the negro, only just then emancipated, scorned to come, but under which the free people of this country were placed."33 He suggested that indentured migration was dishonorable because it made victimized Indan workers unwitting instruments in the victimization of other colonized workers. At the close of the day's session, and anticipating the defeat of his motion, Gokhale pointed out that the "emancipated negroes" were also imperial subjects, and demanded: "what happens to them?" Referring to the evidence collected and reviewed by an inter-colonial committee appointed to investigate Indian indentured

Casting Labor in the Imperial Mold


migration, and published as appendices along with the report in 1910:~ Gokhale noted that they told "a heart-rending tale . . . of the manner in which these neglected people are driven to emigrate from the colonies in which they were born by want of employment,"-a situation precipitated and exacerbated by Indian indentured migration.35 All of the Indian Council members who spoke in support of Gokhale's motion reiterated in various ways his contention that indentured migration gave India and Indians a bad reputation overseas. In seconding Gokhale's motion, Sir Vithaldas Thackersey argued that in India workers were "free men, free agents," who could leave a job if they found the conditions of labor distasteful. Even if indentured migrants were "slightly better paid" than those who remained in India, he asked his associates how they could "allow people to barter the freedom of our men and women for a few coppers?" He warned the Government, "When we find nations all over the world pointing out a finger to India as the only country in the world where this practical slavery of their men is tolerated, it boils our If indentured migration besmirched India's reputation because migrants surrendered their freedom, it was even more demoralizing to the nation that they did so in order to perform menial labor. Subha Rao reminded the Council "how in Natal, for instance, the best and most cultured of Indians are treated as coolies." He attributed thls to the fact "that South Africa has come into contact with India in the shape of coolie labour, and she only knows India as a vast recruiting ground of menial labour, and therefore whoever goes from Inda is naturally looked down on as a coolie, and no better than a coolie." Thus establishing the class dimensions of the problem of indentured emigration for Indian nationalism, Subha Rao argued that "the important question that centres around this Resolution is this: whether the present system does not vitally affect our national honour, our national self-respect, in fact, our national In the process of deexistence as an integral part of the British Em~ire."~' fining what nationhood and national honor and identity were, these Indian representatives to the Council of the Governor-General of India elided the very people in whose name they allegedly opposed indentured migration, and who they allegedly represented-in much the same way that, by sexualizing and domesticating women, Gladstone, Scoble, Indian government officials, and others had earlier displaced women as free laborers and as historical agents. Supporters of indentured emigration like S. H. Fremantle (who had been a member of the influential 1908 inter-colonial commission of inquiry into Indian indentured migration, whose investigations had recently


Chapter 7

been published in Parliamentary Papers as the Sanderson Report) dismissed most of these concerns out of hand, focusing instead on the relative abundance of opportunities for advancement overseas for those Indians who made up the bulk of indentured emigrants. In response to Gokhale's speech, Fremantle said: Only last week I read in the Statesman about a class of serf-tenants in the vicinity of Giridih who in return for a loan of from Rs. 20 to Rs. 40 practically sell themselves into perpetual servitude. It is said, indeed, that the position becomes hereditar): the son taking over the burden of his father's debt. Well, that is some indication of the position to which these poor labourers, with their dependents numbering some 46 millions in this Indian Empire, may fall, and I think that a class of men who are exposed to such economic conditions and who are liable to fall into a state of lifelong hopeless servitude will hardly object to a five years' indentureship and to a free life to come; and I think that they will not thank the Honourable Mr. Gokhale for the attempt which he is now making to cut away the ladder to becoming proprietors of land and self-respectingcitizens of the E m ~ i r e . 3 ~

In his reference to the Statesman article on recent ethnographc findings on "bonded labor" in India, and in his gendering of both "these poor labourers" and "self-respecting citizens of the Empire," Fremantle here illustrates the significance of often-overlooked imperial contexts (such as I have described throughout this volume) for the emergence of specific colonial d s courses (in this case on the category of bonded laborer in India). If the Government of Inda's claim to legitimacy rested on its commitment to and hstory of serving the people of India by improving their condition, and not simply on conquest and subsequent investment, then Fremantle's glum assessment of Indan laborers' lot did little credit to British imperial efforts to date. Perhaps this was one of the points that Gokhale hoped his motion would help to make, and immortalize in the historical record. As it had been for Gladstone and Scoble, Grierson, and countless others, Gokhale's examination of indentured migration in 1912 was a means to other ends, to the achievement of which the lives, experiences, and aspirations of the men and women who, for myriad reasons, left India to work under indentures overseas were largely incidental. This is powerfully and uncomfortably illustrated in Madan Mohan Malaviya's bitter response to Fremantle's comments on the condition of Indan labor and the consequences of abolishing indentured emigration. Malaviya asked: What would the whole world avail the emigrant if he lost his soul by going to those lands? He is subjected to moral degradation; he is subjected to national degradation; he is utterly demoralised, placed under conditions in which he has to live a

Casting Labor in the Imperial Mold


life of sin and shame; in which he ceases to be a free man and virtually becomes a slave-a slave of the worst type? That he can save Rs. 30 a year or so under such a system is not a consideration worth urging in support of it. Let him starve, if he must, in his onrn country, a free man, but not be subjected to these servile restraints and inhuman indignities to save a petty sum of Rs. 30 a year.39

Such characterization of male Indian indentured migrants, deemed to be simple village people in need of special government protection and supervision, served to justify other Indian men's banishment from the masculine activities of self-determination or self-government in India itself. It was precisely the attitudes and inequalities naturalized by and implicit in this gendering of Indian labor and, by association, of all Indians that Gokhale highlighted, objected to, and exploited in his 1912 speech in the Legislative Council calling for abolition of indentured emigration. Amply documented with references to the voluminous official archive on Indian indentured migration, Gokhale's speech, together with those that followed, located the end of the system in its beginnings and demonstrates hou; like the bourgeois-liberal notions of freedom and nation on which it was predcated, this nationalism was a critically gendered and hierarchical ideology. Women were indeed recruited for "special work," as well as for "ornamental purposes," Jenkins and Gokhale notwithstanding. They were recruited to provide company-or as Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co. put it in their 1836 letter John Gladstone, to do the cooking and washing upfor Indian males doing presumptively ordnary waged and thus legitimate "work." Further, their presence and activities (along with responses to them) performed the crucial and complicated race-work and sex-work that contributed to racially hierarchizing and engendering "free" labor in the post-abolition British imperial context. As for their ornamental purpose, Indian women fulfilled several often conflicting ones. One was to represent the Indian and imperial Governments' concern for the moral and material welfare of Indan indentured migrants. Another u7as to represent abolitionists' and other imperial reformers' concern for the moral and material welfare of subjects native to the colonies importing indentured Indians. A third, as Gokhale's speech illustrates, was to represent Indian culture and national identity throughout and to the empire. Indian women were deployed as symbols of legitimacv and authority, not only of fathers and husbands, but also of the bourgeois-colonial state and its nationalist challengers.


"What do they know of England who only England know?" -attributed to Rudyard Kipling's mother The trouble with the Engenglish is that their hiss hiss history happened overseas, so they dodo don't know what it means. -Mr. "Whiskey" Sisodia, in The Satanic W'erses2

EMPIREREPRESENTED MANY THINGS to many people, sometimes simultaneously and seemingly contradictorily: investment opportunities and instrument for civilization of people and societies both at home and abroad. Labor was central to both projects: as a means necessary to realize profits for the former and as discipline, both the medurn and end sought in the latter. Colonial assemblies, governors, Ministers, Members of Parliament, laws, courts and parliamentary procedure, committees of enquiry, annual reports, censuses, and Parliamentary Papers represented media and resources available to men like John Gladstone and William Burnley, but also t o William Knibb, John Scobie, Lord Stanley, and Henry Light. My discussion of these in Fragments @Empire has sought t o illustrate that such m e d a and resources made empire not only respectable but also a crucial condtion for the reification and naturalization of contingent hierarchical categories like race, class, gender, as well as labor.3 Indentured labor is an ambivalently theorized category in labor history. The deployment and elaboration of "free labor" in these documents on Indian indentured migration casts into relief the limitations of prevailing national frameworks for studying labor history. My purpose has been t o suggest how the contexts in which Indian indentured migration emerged as a strategy for some of Britain's sugar colonies to deal with abolition of slavery and emancipation of slaves shaped the terms in which it was subsequently represented, not only in government policy statements,



regulations, and investigations, but also in the petitions and newspapers of its critics in the British Anti-Slavery Society and in the speeches in legislative council of its Indian critics. It was a logic predcated on social science epistemology and rules of evidence that privileged published and therefore official documentary evidence produced and authenticated by men with profound, if often conflicting and contradictory stakes in what they were representing and investigating. To suggest, as I have done, that empire was for contemporaries malleable, shifting, unstable, and often contradictory constellations of ideas, pretexts, and contexts is not to underplay the violence of the expropriations and exploitations perpetrated through, in, and because of it, or to suggest that it was consolidated, as Professor James Seeley put it, in "a fit of absence of mind."4 To the contrarv, for all the heterogeneity of concepts and notions of empire that abounded in the self-fashionings, arguments, and rationales of the people I have focused on here, for all the dialogical process evident in discrete situations at specific junctures and over specific issues, ideas of empire secured hierarchy and privilege. Pass laws, food allowances, sex quotas, wage-deductions for absences from work, grievance procedures that put burdens of both proof and penalty on the weaker parties to the contracts, statistical summaries of mortality, morbidity, birth, marriage, divorce, murder, absenteeism-all these bolstered and authorized the casual brutalities of observations and conclusions that cast Indians-throughout the empire-as "timid," "violent," "mild," "jealous," "\vily," "dishonest," "idolatrous," "obsequious," "insincere," "depraved and disgusting," and as ideal or inadequate laborers. The epistemic, psychological, social, and material violence of imperial bureaucracies and the documentation they produce and policies they develop and enforce is no less effective, no less real for all its banality.5 The peculiarity of indentured migration was the ambiguous space it occupied and opened in the dichotomizing dscourse on slavery and freedom. On the one hand, Indian indentured migration was represented as a new system of slavery, devised to resurrect in all but name the old, abolished system and to perpetuate not only the privileges of some, but also the disadvantages of many, many others. On the other hand, it was defended as a form of free labor especially suited to dstinctively imperial condtions, where natural resources and labor were not always coincident, where labor was abundant precisely among people most vulnerable-environmentallv or economically, socially and culturally-to abuse by worldly, labor-hungry employers and where, finally, the role of imperial govern-



ment was to maintain a balance between safeguarding not only its culturally, historically, and socially heterogeneous subjects' universal rights, but also the myriad structures of opportunity afforded all of them by membership in the empire. The contract form and assumptions on which indentured labor migration was predcated made it possible to argue that the system qualified as free labor, not only because men and women chose to enter into them, but also, and more important, because the guarantor of their freedom of choice was the imperial government and its agents. Nonetheless, others countered that the material conditions under which men and women entered into these contracts called into question their freedom to choose indentured migration, whlle the conltions of the agreements called into question their freedom while under contract. The articulation of gender, race and nation or colonial status is what made indentured labor so crucial to crystallization of a "free labor" ideology. Indentured labor was peculiarly suited to imperial, post-emancipation condtions because it recognized and implicitly capitalized on a racial dfferentiation- indeed racial hierarchy-within the empire by contributing to naturalizing, universalizing a bourgeois-imperial sexual division of labor that was not only predicated on but also reproduced women's banishment to the domestic: to domestic labor, space, identity.6 The post-abolition fiction of equal status and equal protection for all imperial subjects, regardless of race or nation could be maintained by erasing women as political agents. The emphasis of this book and my mode of analysis and exposition, especially in the final chapters has been characterized by synchronicities (explorations and juxtapositions of moments and events conventionally separated one from the other and imagined as discrete and unrelated), rather than by diachronic narrative. Such an approach has allowed me to explore how certain notions-in this case, of labor and of dichotomization of slavery and freedom-are constituted (contingently) and valorized (discursively), that is, in terms of multiple registers and on multiple fronts and power nexuses. Further, it allows me to explore how they are deployed differentially at different times, in different situations and to different ends, even as these particular, strategic deployments are authorized in terms or in the name of universals, of self-evident "truths" that are rendered stable and consolidated even when, in the very moments and acts of their invocation, they are being reconstituted, dismantled, dsaggregated and revalorized. There is a privileging implicit in dachronic narratives of development: a naturalizing of concepts, categories, and the values associated with



them in a manner that freezes them, sendng them hurtling (or majestically rolling, juggernaut-like) through time. If we are to take seriously the notion that discourses, values and ideas are contingent and historically constructed, we must resist or at least interrogate the narrative conventions of the discipline, complicit as it is in empire and its categories, constructed as it is itself. Invoking the authority of Rudyard Kipling's mother and Salman Rushdie's Whiskey Sisodia, Fragments of Empire has suggested that the strategy and system of indentured labor migration from India to (first) Mauritius and the British Caribbean was an important, if overlooked feature of the liberal compromise, enabling that crucial dichotomization of slavery and freedom, even as substantially less than "free" labor and social conditions not only persisted but indeed proliferated under the aegis of empire and its (coercive) civilizing mission. This imperial labor reallocation strategy characteristically and contradictorily made good the promise of imperial liberalism to release people from the fixities of place, custom, and birth into mobility and the opportunity to rise above their "traditional" station-into other orders of imperial hierarchy, the contours of which Fra~mentsof Empire has outlined. It was an essential, ongoing condition for, as well as an effect of the crystallization of British liberalism and national identity.

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Introduction Walcott, The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory. See Young, White Mythologies; Guha, "Not at Home in Empire"; Chakrabarty, "Postco1onialit)iand the Artifice o f History." 3. See Cohn, Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge. 4. For examples o f this burgeoning literature see Said, Culture and Imperialism; Viswanathan, The Maslzs of Conquest; Sharpe, Allegories of Empire; Bhabha, The Location of Culture; Spivak, "Three Women's Texts and a Critique o f Imperialism"; S . Hall, Culture, Media, Language; Burton, Burdens of History and "Rules o f Thumb"; Walkowitz, City of Dreadful Delght; Strobe1 and Nupur Chaudhuri, eds., Western Women and Imperialism; C. Hall, White, Male and Middle Class; Davin, "Imperialism and ihlotherhood"; Suleri, The Rhetoric of English India; Lindborg, "The 'Asiatic' and the Boundaries o f Victorian Englishness"; Rajan, Real and Inui~inedWomen;and Ferguson, Subject to Others. 5. Guha, ed., Subaltern Studies, I-VI; Chaterjee and Pande~:eds:,Subaltern Studies, V I I ;Prakash, Bonded Histories; Haynes and Prakash, eds., Contesting Power; Sangari and Vaid, eds., Recasting Women; Sinha, Colonial Masculinities; Gilroy, There Ain't No Black in the UnionJack and The Black Atlantic; Dirks, ed. Colonialism and Culture; Glissant, Caribbean Discourse; Trouillot, Silencing the Past; Bayly, Imperial Meridian; Hechter, Internal Colonialism;Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness; and Young, White Mythologies. See also Imperialism and Culture series, Manchester University Press, John M . iMacKenzie, general editor. 6 . Spivak, "Three Women's Texts"; Said, Orientalism and "The Politics o f Knowledge"; Bhabha, "Articulating the Archaic"; Meyer, "Colonialism and the Figurative Strategy o fJane Eyre"; Zonana, "The Sultan and the Slave"; Ferguson, Subject to Others;Sharpe, Allegories of Empire; Burton, "RecapturingJane Eyre." 7. See for example, Jones,"Working-ClassCulture and Working-ClassPolitics in London"; MacKenzie, ed., Imperialism and Popular Culture. 8. Spivak, "Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography"; Chakrabarty, "Postcolonialityand the Artifice o f History"; Prakash, "Writing Post-Orientalist Histories o f the Third World" and "Can the 'Subaltern' Ride?"; Burton, "The White Woman's Burden," Burdens of History, and "Who Needs the Nation?"; Sinha, "'Chathams, Pitts, and Gladstones in Petticoats'"; Bhabha, The Location of Culture; Trouillot, Silencing the Past; and Gregg and Kale, "The Empire and Mr. Thompson." 9. A debt to E . P. Thompson is often apparent. See Cooper's "Work, Class I.



Notes t o Pages 4-5

and Empire." See Gregg and Kale, "The Empire and Mr. Thompson," for further discussion of Thompson's relationship to empire; also Chakrabarty, Rethinking Wwking-Class History; Guha, "Dominance Without Hegemony and Its Historiography." 10. For example, Cooper and Stoler, "Between Metropole and Colony," p. 5. Their analysis here is founded on Holt, The Problem of Freedom; Cooper, From Slaves to Squatters; and Stoler, Capitalism and Confrontation in Sumutra's Plantation Belt. 11. A number of scholars have demonized and belittled critical analyses that demonstrate the hierarchical, imperial assumptions embedded in such recuperative epistemologies, dismissing them (explicitly or implicitly) as merely inauthentic third-world "subalterns" ' cynical exploitation of Western contrition for colonial excesses. For examples, see Ahmed, In Theory; O'Hanlon and Washbrook, "After Orientalism"; MacKenzie, Orientalism; Kennedy, "Imperial History and Post-Colonial Theory"; Cooper, "Conflict and Connection"; Cooper and Stoler, "Between Metropole and Colony." In so doing, they effectively mimic the operations of those colonial discourses to which postcolonial critics have drawn attention, as has been pointed out. See, for example, Spivak, "Poststructuralism, Marginality, Postcoloniality and Value"; Prakash, "Subaltern Studies as Postcolonial Criticism," "After Colonialism," and "Who's Afraid of Postcoloniality?"; also Dirks, "The Home and the World." 12. Ranajit Guha, "Not at Home in Empire." 13. In "Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History," Chakrabarty writes: "since 'Europe' cannot after all be provincialized within the institutional site of the university whose knowledge protocols will always take us back to the terrain where all contours follow that of my hyperreal Europe-the project of provincializing Europe must realize within itself its own impossibility" (p. 22). 14. For a similar appreciation of empire's significance from a different national historiography, see W. A. Williams, Empire as a Way of Lqe; Kaplan, "Left Alone with America." 15. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism. The literature on imperialism is voluminous, beginning with the work of Hobson, Imperialism (1902), which saw imperialism undermining the rationality of the capitalist process, and V. I. Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, which argued that imperialism was essential for capitalism's survival. Other key texts in the historiography of imperialism, besides those that concentrate on particular areas of imperial expansion include Gallagher and Robinson, "The Imperialism of Free Trade"; and Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire. Though some of these studies, Hobson's and Arendt's in particular, endeavor to highlight the impact of such expansion on the metropole and the imperial culture that emerges there, this is generally of secondary significance to the analysis and description of expansion. Consequently, these studies generally attribute uniformity and logic to the history of western expansionism, whether attributed to reasons of economy, the nature of the state, or some other cause-as in Takaki's study of the United States and empire, "The Masculine Thrust Towards Asia." 16. See Prakash, "After Colonialism"; and "Who's Afraid of Postcoloniality? " 17. In Caribbean Discourse, Edouard Glissant notes that "One of the most

Notes to Pages 5-7


terrible implications of the ethnographic approach is the insistence on fixing the object of scrutiny in static time, thereby removing the tangled nature of lived experience and promoting the idea of uncontaminated survi\~al.Thls is how those generalized projections of a series of events that obscure the network of real links become established. The history of a transplanted population, but one which elsewhere becomes another people, allows us to resist generalization and the limitations it imposes. Relationship (at the same time link and linked, act and speech) is emphasized over what in appearance could be conceived as a governing principle, the so-called universal 'controlling force' " (p. 14). 18. Green, British Slave Emanczpation; Foner, NothingButFreedom, pp. 37-38; and Holt, The Problem of Freedom, pp. 143-76. See Bolland, "Systems of Domination After Slavery" for a discussion of this literature. 19. See, for example, Walter Benjamin on the task of historical materialism: "The historical materialist must sacrifice the epic dimension of history. The past for him becomes the subject of a construction whose locus is not empty time, but the particular epoch, the particular life, the particular work. . . . The task of historical materialism is to set to work an engagement with history original to every new present. It has recourse to a consciousness that shatters the continuum of history." One Way Street and Other Writings, p. 352, cited in Sharpe, Allegories of Empire, pp.13-14. Also, Benjamin, Illuminations, pp. 264-65. 20. Bhabha, "Of ~Mimcryand Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse," "Sly Civility," and "Signs Taken for Wonders," in The Location of Culture; Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?"; Kaplan and Kell!; "Rethinking Resistance"; and K e l l ~A Politics of Virtue. 21. Some \vorks on labor and migration in India that are relevant to this dscussion include Chakrabart\: "Rethinking Working-Class History"; Prakash, Bonded Histories; Bates and Carter, "Tribal Migration in India and Beyond"; Kale "Indian Expansion and the Indian Diaspora"; Carter, Servants, Sirdurs and Settlers, Lakshmi's Lgacy, and Voices from Indenture. On the technologies of imperial rule, see \Villiams, Capitalism and Slavery, a work often hostilely read as reductive economic determinism; see also Robinson, "Capitalism, Slavery and Bourgeois Historiography." 22. See Mamdani, Subject and Citizen. 2 3 . Green, British Slave Emancipation, p. 69; Schuette, "The London West India Committee," p. 63. 24. See, for example, PP (HC) 1910 XXVII, Part I: "Report of the Committee on Emigration from India to the Crown Colonies and Protectorates" (hereafter "Sanderson Committee Report," after Chairman of Committee). 25. Kale, "Projecting Identities." For examples of this literature, see Tinker, A hrew System of Slavery; Lal, "Labouring Men and Nothing More" and "Kunti's Cry"; Gillion, Fiji's Indian Mzgrants; Reddock, "Freedom Denied"; Emmer, "The Great Escape." 26. Richard Suarez Smith, in "Rule-by-Records and Rule-by-Reports," relates "the two instruments of British Imperial rule in India, village records and &strict reports, to a wider discourse between knowledge and administrative control; p.153.


Notes to Pages 7-10

27. For example, Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, pp. 462-64; Brereton, A History of Modern Trinidad, pp. 76-96 and Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad, pp. 9, 176; Wood, Trinidad in Transition, pp. 54-55, 59; Dookhan, A Post-Emancipation History of the West Indies, pp. 9-10, 44, 47; Green, British Slave Emancipation, pp. 99-228, and "The West Indies and Indentured Labour Migration," pp. 2-3, 6; Johnson, "Immigration and the Sugar Industry in Trinidad During the last Quarter of the 19th Century," p. 28 (Johnson challenges contentions of labor shortage late in the century, but accepts the proposition that there was one following emancipation); Tinker, A N m System of Slavery, pp. 17-18; Ramesar, "Indentured Labour in Trinidad," pp. 57-58; Ryan, Race and Nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago, chap. I; Shepherd, "Indians and Blacks in Jamaica in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries," p. 97. 28. Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture; Prakash, Bonded Histories; and Holt, The Problem of Freedom. The object of considerable debate, even rancor, Williams's Capitalism and Slavery is unique in the imperial perspective it takes on the relationship benveen not only capitalism and slavery, but also capitalism and abolition. For all that Williams's critics have contributed to our knowledge of British anti-slavery movements and the financial condition of individuals involved in British West Indian sugar industries, they have not engaged with his central insights about empire. For persistent and ongoing controversy provoked by Capitalism and Slavery, see Temperley, British Antislavery, pp. 273-76; Drescher, Econocide; Solow and Engerman, eds., British Capitalism and Caribbean Slavery; Holt, "British Mobilization in Comparative Perspective," pp. 371-78 and The Problem of Freedom, pp. 22-25; Robinson, "Capitalism, Slavery and Bourgeois Historiograp h 3 passim. See also Williams, History of the People of Trinidad and T o b a ~p. , 87 and From Columbus to Castro, pp. 336-38, 347-52; Rodney, A History of the Guyanese Wmking Peqle, pp. 32-59, 61-62, 217-22; Mandle, "British Caribbean Economic History"; Scarano, "Labor and Society in the Nineteenth Century"; Haraksingh, "Control and Resistance Among Indian Workers," pp. 61-62 and "Sugar Estates and Labour in Trinidad, 1838-1845"; Adamson, "The Impact of Indentured Immigration on the Political Economy of British India," pp. 42-45, and Sugar Without Slaves; North-Coombes, "From Slavery to Indenture." 29. Hutchins, Illusion of Permanence; Ludden, "Orientalist Empiricism"; Cohn, "Notes on the History of the Study of Indian Society and Culture," pp. 328 and "Census, Social Structure and Objectification in South Asian," pp. 25-51. 30. Lal, Fiji, p. 2. 31. Trouillot, Silencing the Past. 32. For a discussion of these developments during a later period, see, among others, Gallagher and Robinson, "The Imperialism of Free Trade"; Hobson, Imperhlism; and the essays in Samuel, ed., Patriotism. 33. Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?"; Prakash, "Subaltern Studies as Postcolonial Criticism" and "Writing Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World."

Notes to Pages 12-17


Chapter One I . ~MahadaiDas, "They Came in Ships." 2. Anne Gladstone was F. M. Gillander's aunt, and her husband had sent the young man to Calcutta to promote his own interests there. In India, Gillanders entered a partnership with G. C. Arbuthnot and set up a separate agency. Tinker, "The Origin of Indian Migration to the West Indies:' p. 65, citing Checkland, The Gladstones, 1764-1811, P. 3 18. 3. PP (HC) 1838, no. 232, "Orders in Council for the Regulation of Masters and Employers, and Articled Labourers in the Colony of British Guiana. With Enclosures" (hereafter "Masters and Employers") [See also PP (HL) 1837-38, v. 14 no. 88, "Emigration of Hill Coolies: Letters addressed by John Gladstone to Colonial Secretary"], enclosure no. I in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 28, 1838. 4. Geoghegan, Note on Emzgrationfrom India, p. 2; Tinker, A New System of Slavery, p. 63. 5. masters and Employers:' Gladstone to Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co., Jan. 4, 1836, enclosure no. I in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 28, 1838. 6. Ibid. 7. Feuchtwanger, Gladstone, pp. 2-4; Shannon, Gladstone, p. 4. 8. Feuchnvanger, Gladstone, p. 2; Shannon, Gladstone, p. 4. 9. Feuchtwanger, Gladstone, p. 2. 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid. I 2. Shannon, Gladstone, p. 2. 13. Stenton, Who's Who ofBritish Members of Parliament, p. I 56. William was Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies briefly in 1835; on the strength of his father's considerable connections with the West Indies, he was made a member of the Select Committee on Negro Apprenticeship, appointed the following year to investigate the condition of labor and industry in the aftermath of abolition. 14. Feuchtumger, Gladstone, p. 2. 15. Tinker, "The Origins of Indian migration:' p. 64; Checkland, The Gladstones, p. 179. 16. Tinker, "The Origins of Indian Migration:' p. 64; Checkland, The b ladstones, p. 189; da Costa, Crowns of Glory, Tears ofBlood, pp. 188-90. 17. Williams, Capitalism and Slavery, p. 90. Cropper, a Quaker, was also a merchant; however, he was interested in developing sugar cultivation in India. Tinker, "The Origins of Indian Migration," p. 63. Cropper's opposition to slavery was predicated on the unfair advantage that it, together with favorable import duties bestowed on sugar planters and merchants in the British Caribbean. 18. Williams, Capitalism and Slavery, p. 90. According to Checkland, Gladstone received L93,joo in compensation, The Gladstones, p. 318; cited also in Tinker, "The Origins of Indian Migration," p. 71. 19. "Masters and Employers:' Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co., to John Gladstone, June 6,1836, enclosure no. 2 in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 22, 1838. 20. Ibid.


Notes to Pages 17-22

21. Ibid. 22. "Papers respecting the East India Labourers' Bill," India Office, 1839 (hereafter "East India Labourers' Bill"), John Gladstone to Hobhouse, India Board, February 23,1837, enclosure no. I in no. 4, in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 28,1838. 23. Ibid., Hobhouse, India Board, to Gladstone, Feb. 25, 1837, enclosure no. 2 in no. 4, in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 28, 1838. 24. "Masters and Employers," Gladstone to Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co, Mar. 10, 1837, enclosure no. 3 in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 28, 1838. Also in this letter, Gladstone informs Gillanders & Arbuthnot that others among his associates are interested in recruiting and contracting with Indian workers for their plantations in the West Indies, and introduces to Gillanders & Arbuthnot the names of Andrew Colvile and iMessrs. Davidsons, Barkly & Co. 25. "East India Labourers' Bill," Gladstone to Sir George Grey, mar. 13,1837, enclosure no. 6 in no. 4. 26. Ibid., Gladstone to Glenelg, iMar. 23, 1837, enclosure no. 8 in no 4. 27. Ibid. In 1836, the favorable rates once reserved for West India produce was extended to muscovado produced in India. 28. Ibid. 29. Ibid., Glenelg to Sir William Nicolay, Jan. 20, 1836. 30. Ibid., Glenelg to Nicolay, iMay 25,1836. 31. Green, British Slave Emancipation, chs. 1-2. 32. "East India Labourers' Bill," Gladstone to Grey, Mar. 13, Mar. 23, 1837 (enclosures nos. 6,8); Glenelg to Gladstone, Apr. 29, May 3,1837 (enclosures nos. 9, 11); Gladstone to Glenelg, May 5, 1837 (enclosure no. 12); Glenelg to Gladstone, May 16, 1837 (enclosure no. 13). 33. "Masters and Employers," Gladstone to Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co., June 10, 1837, enclosure no. 6 in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 20, 1838. He also ordered that separate quarters be provided for men and women, according to the marital status of the emigrants. 34. The Whitby, commissioned for the same purposes by Colvile and Davidsons & Barkly, sailed shortly thereafter. 35. "East India Labourers Bill: extract from India Public Consultation no. 26 of Feb. I, 1837, letter from Government of India to Law Commission, may 15, 1836. 36. Geoghegan, Note on Emigration from India, p. 3; "East India Labourers Bill," F. Millett, Secretary to the Indian Law Commission, to H . T. Prinsep, Secretary to the Government of India, General Department, Sept. 16, 1836. 37. "East India Labourers Bill: Government of India to Court of Directors, East India Company, London, Jan. 18,1937, cited in Edward Lawford, Solicitor to East India Company, to David Hill, June 12, 1838. 38. Ibid., Government of India (Ross, Morison, & Bird) to Court of Directors, may 30,1838 [Public Department no. 18 of 18381, regarding letter to Government of India from Superintendent Birch of Calcutta Police, Dec. 6,1837. 39. G. C. Arbuthnot to J. Gladstone, Liverpool, Feb. 23, 1838, John Gladstone Papers. 40. Lord Brougham, "Speech on the Eastern Slave Trade," House of Lords, march 6, 1938.

Notes to Pages 23-28


41. PP (HL) 1839, v. 7, no.202, "Correspondence relative to the Condition of the Hill Coolies and of Other Labourers who have been introduced into British Guiana" [similar to PP (HC) 1839, v. 32, no. 525, "Correspondence between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Governors of British Guiana, respecting the Immigration of Labourers"] (hereafter "Condition of Hill Coolies"), Glenelg to Light, May 26,1838. 42. Ibid., Light to Glenelg, Aug. 30, 1838. 43. Ibid. 44. Ibid., Glenelg to Light, Nov. 6, 1838. The governor's earlier reports had been incomplete because Stipendiary Magistrate MacLeod had been ill and unable to furnish information on the Indian laborers under his jurisdiction. 45. This report covered all indentured workers on British Guiana plantations, not only those recently imported from India. 46. "Condition of Hill Coolies," enclosure in Light to Glenelg, Nov. 19,1838. 47. Ibid., enclosure in Light to Normanb!; Apr. 13, 1839; British EmunczjJator, Jan. 9, 1839. 48. Ibid. 49. Ibid., Light to Glenelg, Jan. 11 [officially, Jan. 291, 1839. 50. Ibid. 51. Ibid., Light to Normanby, Apr. 13,1839. 52. Ibid., enclosure in Light to Normanb3 Apr. 13, 1839: report of Stipendiary Magistrates Wolseley and Coleman on results of inquiry, requested by Mr. Matthews, Colvile's managing attorney in British Guiana, into allegations of 11, abuse brought against Plantation Belle~ue;also, Anti-Slavery Reporter I, 5 1840), p. 48. Scoble's report was also published as Hill Coolies. A BriefExposure. 53. "Condition of Hill Coolies," enclosures 3 and 4 in Light to Normanbh May 8, 1839. 54. Ibid., enclosure 2 in Light to Normanby, May 21, 1839. 5s. Ibid., returns of emigrants landed by the Whitby and the Hesperus in Ma); 1838. 56. Ibid., Light to Normanby, May 21,1839. 57. James Spedding, "Memorandum on the Hill Coolie Papers; Aug. 26, 1839 pp. 1-2. 58. "Condition of Hill Coolies; William Ewart Gladstone to Normanb!; Aug. 3, 1839, no. 16. 59. Ibid. 60. Spedding, p. 3. 61. Ibid., p. 4. 62. Ibid. 63. Ibid., p. 5, emphasis in original. 64. "East India Labourers' Bill," Deputy Governor of Bengal to Superintendent Birch, Calcutta Police, may 31, 1838, enclosure in Public Department no. 27 of 1838 (Aug. 22,1838), Government of India to Court of Directors. 65. Geoghegan, Note on Emzgratwnfrom India, p. 3. 66. "East India Labourers' Bill," Auckland to Court of Directors, July 9,1838, Public Department no. s of 1838. huckland was related by marriage to Andrew



Notes to Pages 29-33

Colvile, one of the British entrepreneurs who commissioned the Wbitby to carry Indian contract workers to his plantations in British Guiana. 67. Ibid. 68. Ibid., Bird's minute of July 3, 1838, enclosure in Government of India to Court of Director, Aug. 22,1838, Public Department no. 27 of 1838. 69. Cited in Scoble, Hill Coolies, p. I. 70. Ibid., pp. 7-8. 71. PP (HC) 1841 XVI nos. 287, 482, 'LHillCoolies and Indian Labourers. Report of the Committee to Enquire into Alleged Abuses in Exporting from Bengal to other Countries." Also in "Coolie Export Enquiry 1838-40. Dickens 'Committee Report, Evidence and Dissenting Minutes" (Calcutta: Government of Bengal, 1839). So called after Chairman of Committee, Theodore Dickens, who, along with Rev. James Charles and Russomoy Dutt, signed the majority report. Two other members of the Committee, Dowson and Grant, submitted separate Minutes dissenting from the majority report. (Unless otherwise noted, all references are to the latter version; hereafter "Dickens Committee Report.") Appendix, petition addressed to the Honorable Alexander Ross, President of the Council of India, Calcutta, Town HaU, July 10, 1838. 72. Ibid. 73. For example, see notes 3, 41 above. 74. "Masters and Employers: Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co. to Gladstone, June 6 , 1836, enclosure no. 2 in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 28, 1838. 75. See Chapter 4. 76. "Dickens Committee Report," Appendix: petition addressed to the Honourable Alexander Ross, July 10, 1838. 77. Ibid. 78. "East India Labourers' Bill," Public Department no. 27 of 1838 (Aug. 22, 1838),Government of India to Court of Directors. 79. Ibid. Only the Governor of Bengal obliged. O n August I, his government appointed Dickens, Dutt, Charles, Archer, Do~vson,and Grant to look into the matter. 80. "Dickens Committee Report," appendix: Henley, Dowson & Bestel to H. T. Prinsep, Secretary to the Government of Bengal, July 23,1838. The firms and merchants in whose behalf Henle); Dowson & Bestel wrote were, besides itself, J. A. Walker & Co., L. A. Rich): Thomas Francis, P. W. G. Dowson, C. Langloiz, T. Tiron & E. Pandelle, M. Audibert, G. Mathios, V. Perdreaut, W. E. Browne, J. M. Dove, J. Allan. 81. Ibid. 82. Anti-Slavery Reporter I, 5 (March 11, 1840), p. 48. 83. Scoble to editors (London, March 11, 1841), Anti-Slavery Reporter 11, 6, march 24, 1841, P. 59. 84. Ibid., emphasis in original. 8s. Ibid. 86. Scoble to editors (London, July 10, 1841), Anti-Slavery Repmter, "The Gladstone Slave-Trade," 11, 14 (July 14, 1841), p p 158-59.

Notes to Pages 33-40


87. Anti-Slavery Reporter I1,14 (July 14, 1841),p. 158, citing Light to Russell, November 13, 1840. 88. Ibid. 89. Anti-Slavery Reporter 11, 14 (July 14, 1841), p. 158. 90. Ibid., Light to Russell, Mar. 9, 1841. 91. Ibid., Light to Russell, Mar. IS, 1841. 92. Ibid., Mure to Light, Mar. 9, 1841. 93. Ibid., p. 159. 94. For differing treatments of projections of free labor see especially W. E. B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America; Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture; Prakash, Bonded Histories; Holt, The Problem of Freedom; Foner, Nothing But Freedom. 95. As William Gladstone would point out in his "Speech delivered in the House of Commons on the Motion . . . for the Abolition of the Negro Apprenticeship:' Fridah Mar. 30, 1838. 96. Hence Marx's comment: "Labor produces not only commodities: it produces itself and the worker as a commodity-and this in the same general proportion in which it produces commodities. . . . [Tlhe worker becomes a slave of his object, first, in that he receives an object of labor, i.e., in that he receives work; and secondly, in that he receives means of subsistence. Therefore, it enables him to exist, first, as a worker; and, second as aphysical subject. The height of this bondage is that it is only as a worker that he continues to maintain himself as aphysical subject, and that it is only as aphysical subject that he is a worker" (Economicand Philusophic 2Manuscripts, pp. 106, 109).

Chapter Two I. PP (HC) 1810-11, v. 2, no. 409, "Report of the Select Committee appointed to consider the practicability and expediency of supplying our West India Colonies with free Labourers from the East" (hereafter "Free Labourers from the East"); B. W. Higman, "The Chinese in Trinidad, 1806-1838:) pp. 21-44. 2. The Navigation Acts, for example, which restricted colonies to trading with Britain and other British colonies. 3. Williams, Capitalism and Slavery, pp. 108-25. 4. D. Hall, A Bri$History of the West India Committee, pp. 4-7. 5. Green, British Slave Emunczpation, pp. 34, 69; Schuette, "The London West India Committee," chs. I, 2. 6. Williams, Capitalism and Slavery. Williams argues that the India card turned out poorly for Pitt, as the erstwhile West India sugar monopoly successfully blocked alteration of existing tarff schedules highly favorable to itself, "in favour of a monopolising company." He attributes this quotation to Lord Hawkesbur): Liverpool papers, Add. MSS 38349, f. 28, p p 145-57. 7. James, Black Jacobins; Williams argues that at this point Pitt's enthusiasm for abolishing the slave trade all but evaporated; Capitalism and Slavery, pp. 146-48.


Notes to Pages 40-43 8. Green, British Slave Emancipation, pp. 76-78. 9. Brereton, A Hirtmy ofMohm Trinidad. 10. The implications of which are not explored in Holt, The Problem of Free-

dom. 11. While importation of slaves from Africa was to be prohibited, transfer of slaves from other Caribbean colonies to Trinidad would be permitted. Williams, From Co~umbusto Castro, p. 263. 12. Williams suggests that, in addition, abolition of the slave-trade became necessary as a way to check increasingly ruinous over-production for the small British domestic market. He also argues that sugar production in Cuba and Brazil was expanding as rapidly as Saint Domingue's once had-and that some sugar from both these rival colonies was reaching European markets under cover of ships flying neutral American flags; Capitalism and Slavery, pp. 149-50; Hall, A Brtef History of the West India Committee, p. 7. For a related history of slave trade abolition in the United States, see DuBois, The Suppression oftbe African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870. 13. Hall, A Brtef History of the West India Committee, p. 7 ; Scarano, "Labor and Society in the Nineteenth Century: p. 58. 14. Williams reports that, "Benveen 1813 and 1821 Trinidad received over 3,800 such slaves, of whom nearly 1,100 came from Dominica and nearly 1,200from Grenada. . . . Of 266 domestics imported into Trinidad from Barbados during the year 1827,204 had changed owners by the end of the year and 81 had ceased to be domestics"; Williams, Histmy oftbe Peqle of Trinidad and Tobago,p. 75; Richard A. Lobdell, "Patterns of Investment and Sources of Credt? p. 32. 15. Riviere, "Labour Shortage in the British West Indies After Emancipation: p. I. 16. Lobdell, "Patterns of Investment," p. 32. 17. Williams, Capitalism and Slavery, pp. 201-5. 18. For more on this uprising, see da Costa, Crowns of Glary, passim. 19. The measures included abolition of flogging for female slaves; prohibition of the use of whips in the fields; determent of punishment of alleged transgressions for a prescribed period; registration of punishments; compulsory manumission of slaves who could come up with the purchase price; acceptance of slaves' evidence in court; abolition of Sunday markets and designation of an alternative day for the purpose; a savings bank for slaves; a nine-hour day; appointment of protectors of slaves; and provisions for slaves' religious and moral improvement. Williams, From Columbus to Castro, p. 297; da Costa, Crowns of Glory; Beckles, "The 200 Years War: Slave Resistance in the British West Indies." 20. Hall, A BrzefHistory of the WestIndia Committee, pp. 8-9. 21. Ibid. 22. Butler, The Economics of Emancipation; U K (HC) 1836 no. 560, "Report of the Select Committee on Negro Apprenticeship in the Colonies" (hereafter "Apprenticeship in the Colonies"); "East India Labourers' Bill: Glenelg to Nicolay, Jan. 20, 1836; W. K. Marshall, "The Termination of Apprenticeship in Barbados and the Windward Islands: 1-45; Hilary Beckles, Black Rebellion in Barbados; Nigel Bolland, "Systems of Domination After Slavery," p. 594. Bolland points out that

Notes to Pages 43-49


Antigua planters were not especially generous; they were as creative as planters elsewhere in proposing rigorous laws for restricting the movements of the newlyemancipated black workers. In fact, laws they proposed in December 1834 were disallowed by a Colonial Office subject to anti-slavery advocates' vigilance and sensitive to their public criticisms. 23. "Apprenticeship in the Colonies." Included among the members of the committee was William Ewart Gladstone. See also Scarano, "Labor and Society in the Nineteenth Century," p. 66. 24. Scarano, "Labor and Society in the Nineteenth Century," pp. 59-67. 25. See, for example, PP (HC) 1842, 12, no. 479, "Report from the Select Committee on West India Colonies," Minutes of Evidence (hereafter "West India Colonies"); The Sugar Question, cited in Lobdell, "Patterns of Investment and Sources of Credit," p. 32. 26. OIConner, Edward Gibbon Wakefield; Stuart, Edward Gibbon Wakefield in New Zealand. 27. PP (HC) 1836, "Report from the Select Committee on the Disposal of Lands in the British Colonies" (hereafter "Disposal of Lands"), Minutes of Evidence, Burnley, pp. 152, 161; see also Chapters 5 and 7 below. 28. "Disposal of Lands: p. 156. 29. Ibid., pp. 170,174. 30. Ibid., pp. 163-64. 31. Ibid. 32. Peck and Price, Report, p. 13. 33. Ibid., pp. 9,23. 34. "Disposal of Lands," p. 171. 35. Jordan, White over Black; Fredrickson, The Black Image in the WhiteMind. 36. PP (HC) 1842 XXXVI, "Papers Relative to the West Indies: Part VI "Laws relating to Immigration and Deportation from One Colony to Another" (hereafter "Immigration and Deportation"). 37. Foner, Nothing But Freedom, pp. 14-18; Green, British Slave Emancipation, pp. 130-61; Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, pp. 441-42; Tinker, A New System afslavery, pp. 16-17; "Immigration and Deportation." 38. "Papers Relative the the West Indies, Part 111: New Laws Proposed to Meet the New Relations of Society" (hereafter "New Laws"), Glenelg to Governor Sir C. F. Hill, Trinidad, Oct. 10, 1838, Nov. 11-15, 1838; "Papers Relative to the West Indies, Part I: Progress of Industrh and General Condition of Society" (hereafter "Progress of Industry"), Colonel iMein (Trinidad) to Glenelg, mar. 27, 1839. Green, British Slave Emancipation, pp. 164-65. 39. "Immigration and Deportation," Governor Hill, Trinidad, to Glenelg, Dec. 11, 1838; Glenelg to Light, Dec. 19, 1838; Normanby to Hill, Feb. 21, 1839. Governor Light of British Guiana was an enthusiastic supporter of his colony's proposal, according to John Scoble, Hill Coolies, p. 22; see also "Progress of Industry," pp. 195-96, Extract from Light's Address to the Combined Court, Feb. 19, 1839, in Light to Glenelg, Feb. 20,1839. 40. John Scoble, Hill Coolies, p. 22, citing Normanby to Light, Aug. 15, 1939. 41. Ibid.


Notes to Pages 49-55

42. Gladstone, Andrew Colvile, and Henry Davidson to the Duke of Wellington, Feb. 28, 1838, John Gladstone Papers. 43. Ibid. This letter from Arbuthnot was also printed with other correspondence in "Masters and Employers." 44. Colvile to Gladstone, London, 23 Nov. 1839, John Gladstone Papers. 45. Green, British Slave Emancipation, pp. 117-19. 46. Howick to Gladstone, London, 13 Dec. 1839, John Gladstone Papers. 47. Ibid. 48. Schuler, 'Xlas, Alas, Kongo4 49. PP (HC) 1840, no. 151, "Papers Relative to the Affairs of British Guiana" (hereafter "Affairs of British Guiana"), Light to Russell, Dec. 22,1839, p. 39. 50. Ibid., "Petition adopted at a public meeting of the inhabitants of British Guiana"; Dec. 21,1839, enclosure in Light to Russell, Dec. 22,1839, p. 40. 51. Ibid., p. 41. 52. Ibid. 53. Scoble, Hill Coolies; "Condition of Hill Coolies," West India Association to Russell, Dec. 17,1839, enclosure no. I in Russell to Light Feb. 2,1840. 54. Ibid. 55. See, for example, Scoble's article in The British Emancipator, Jan. 9, 1839, and Hill Coolies; "Condition of Hill Coolies," Light to Glenelg, Aug. 30, 1838 and Nov. 19, 1838; Light to Normanby, Apr. 13,1839 m d May 8,1839 with enclosures. Also, James Spedding, "Memorandum on the Hill Coolie Papers," August 26,1839, p. xii. 56. "Dickens Committee Report," Appendix: "Merchants of Calcutta . . . connected with the trade of the Mauritius," to Government of India, J d y 23,1838. 57. "Atfairs of British Guiana," Committee of West India Merchants, Dec.17, 1839, enclosure no. I in Russell to Light, Feb. 15,1840, p. 46. 58. Ibid, R. Semple & Co. to Russell, Liverpool, Nov. 25, 1839, enclosure no. 2 in Russell to Light, Feb. 15, 1840, pp. 47,+8-50. 59. Ibid., p.50. 60. For example, PP (HC) 1848, XLVI, no. 749, "Correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Governors of the Sugar-Growing Colonies, as to the Distress now existing in these Colonies"; "Sanderson Committee Report, 11: Minutes of Evidence," Oliver Warner, Assistant Protector of Immigrants in Trinidad, 1869-81, emigration agent from Trinidad in Calcutta, 1881-98, pp. 24-31; William G. Sewell, The Ordeal of Free Labm in the British West Indies; Omnium, "Is Cheap Sugar the Triumph of Free Trade? A Second Letter to the Right Honourable Lord John Russell"; Rodway, "Labour and Colonisation:' Tzmheri: The Journal of the Royal A~riculturaland Commercial Society of British Guiana (Sept, 1919)~p p 20-42. 61. See, for example, Blouet, "Earning and Learning in the British West Indies," pp. 391-409 The author points out that the report and minutes of evidence prepared by the 1831-32 Parliamentary Select Committee on the Extinction of Slavery were informed by assumptions shared by abolitionists and their opponents alike regarding the benefits to African and African-descended slaves of exposure to the civilizing influences of Christianity, commerce and industry.

Notes to Pages 55-60


62. See, for example, Mill, History of British India; and Grant, Observationson the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain. See also Stokes, The English Utilitarians and India; Sangari and Vaid, "Recasting Women: An Introduction," pp. 1-26; Ludden, "Orientalist Empiricism" and "India's Development Regime," pp. 247-88; Dirks, "Introduction: Colonialism and Culture; pp. I26; Prakash, "Writing Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World," pp. 353-88; Cohn, An Anthropolagist Anzong the Historians, pp. I 36-71. 63. See Chapter Four for examples of the Anti-Slavery Society's use of Parliamentary Papers to their own ends. 64. For example, "Dickens Committee Report," which includes Dowson's minute, dissenting from the majority report. Grant's minute dissenting from the majority report and from Dowson's dissension, March I, 1841. 65. See, for example, Green, British Slave Emancipation; Foner, Nothing But Freedom; Holt, The Problem of Freedom; Malcolm Cross and Gad Heuman, eds., Labour in the Caribbean. 66. Wood, Trinidad in Transition, pp. 36, 295; Brereton, Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad, p. 49. 67. D. Hall, "Flight from the Estates Reconsidered"; Haraksingh, "Control and Resistance Among Indian Workers." Beall makes a similar argument regarding women and Indian indentured labor in Natal; "Women Under Indenture in Colonial Natal," pp. 64-65. 68. "Affairs of British Guiana," Russell to Light, Feb. 15, 1840. 69. Mathurin, The Rebel Woman in the British West Indies During Slavery; Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean; Morrissey, Slave Women in the New World; Beckles, Natural Rebels. 70. masters and Employers," Gladstone to Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co., Jan. 4, 1836, enclosure no. I in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 1838. 71. See for example, The Anti-Slavery Reporter, published by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society from 1840 on; Howard Temperley, British Antislavery, 87-90; Midgley, "Anti-Slavery and Feminism in 19th-Century Britain"; C. Hall, "Competing Masculinities" and, "'From Greenland's Icy Mountains . . . to Afric's Golden Sand.' " This will be discussed further in Chapter Five. 72. Higman, Slave Populations, p. 116. 73. Beckles, Natural Rebels, pp. 18-19; Higman, Slave Populations, pp. 58-63. 74. On Indian indentured labor in Natal, see Beall, "Women Under Indenture in Colonial Natal"; Meer, "Indentured Labour and Group Formations in Apartheid Society." These nvo authors also make an argument for the instrumentality of articulations of labor shortage with cultural imperatives. For example, Meer writes, "The colonial explanation (reiterated by its scholars) for importing 'coolies' to Natal was the unwillingness of the kaffir to work- he was regarded as spoilt, both by his polygamous habits and by the land settlement made upon him by a doting British government." She argues, in contrast, that "the problem was not a lack of labour, but a lack of abundant cheap labour, particularly in the labourintensive area of industrial agriculture" (pp. 45-46). 75. Butler, Economics ofEmancipatwn, Appendix Table A.1, p. 143. 76. Williams, Capitalism and Slavery, p. 86.


Notes to Pages 61-66

77. Higman's analysis of data from approximately 1832 modifies Williams's position, but not dramatically; Slave Pupulations, pp. 102-3. 78. "Sanderson Committee Report, 11"; Brereton, RaceRelutions, pp. 49,179; Wood, Trinidad in Transition, pp. 107-59; Laurence, AQuestion of Labour, p. 11. 79. "Progress of Industry," Light to Glenelg, July 30,1838; Light to Glenelg, Sept. 6, 1838; Light to Glenelg, Jan. 30, 1839; Hill to Glenelg, Aug. 10, 1838, Hill to Glenelg, May 10, 1839; Sir W. M. G. Colebrook (Leeward Islands) to Glenelg, Aug. 16,1838. 80. Colvile, London, 23 Nov. 1839. John Gladstone Papers. Gladstone owned estates in Jamaica as well as in British Guiana. 81. Howick, London, Dec. 13, 1839. John Gladstone Papers. 82. Green, British Slave Emancipation, pp. 171-73. 83. "Progress of Industry:' Light to Glenelg, Jan. 30,1839. 84. Ibid. 85. Rodney, "Guyana: The Making of the Labour Force"; North-Coombes, "From Slavery to Indenture," p. 81; Meer, "Indentured Labour and Group Formations in Apartheid Society," pp. 45-60. 86. "Progress of Industry," Light to Glenelg, Sept. 6,1838 and Light to Normanby, June 3,1839. 87. For example, Green, British Slave Emancipation, and, following his lead, Foner, "The Anatomy of Emancipation," ch. I in Nothing But Freedom; Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery. 88. See, for example, Anti-Slavery Reporter I, z (Jan. 29, 1840), p. I; Reporter I, 3 (Feb. 12, 1840), p. 18 citing Colonial Gazette (Jan. I, 184o), Morning Chronicle (Dec. 26,1839) and Sir Edward Cust, Reflections on WestIndia Afairs. See also Reporter I, 4 (Feb. 26, 1840), p. 39. 89. "West India Colonies." See also Samuel J. Prescod (editor of the Barbados Liberal) to editors of the Anti-Slavery Repmter, July 13, 1840 and July 27, 1840, in "The Alleged Deficiency of Labour," Reporter I, 15 (July 15, 1840), pp. 163-65, and I, 16 (July 29,1840), pp. 177-79. 90. On Natal, see Meer, "Indentured Labour and Group Formations in Apartheid Society," p. 54.

Chapter Three I. Conrad, Heart of Darkness, p. 87. 2. Russell had been Melbourne's Secretary of State for the Home Department from 1835 until 1839, when, after Melbourne resigned following a virtual vote of no confidence on his Jamaica policies, the Ministry was returned to government, as the Tories, under Peel, declined to form one; Green, British Slave Emancipation, p. 169. He continued as Colonial Secretary until 1841, when he was succeeded by Lord Stanley, erstwhile Whig (Colonial Secretary 1833-34 in the second Earl Grey's government), who served in Peel's second Tory administration. 3. "Mairs of British Guiana," petition of Dec. 21, 1839, enclosure in Light to Russell, Dec. 22,1839.

Notes to Pages 60-73


4. Ibid., Light to Russell, December 22, 1839. 5. Ibid., Russell to Light, Feb. 15, 1840. Also printed inReporter,"Immigration to British Guiana," I, 7 (April 8,1840), pp. 69-70. 6. "Progress of Industry; British Guiana, Light to Glenelg, July 30, 1838.

He added that he hoped to relay more detailed information after he returned from an imminent inspection tour of conditions in the colonies three districts. 7 . Ibid., Light to Glenelg, Sept. 6, 1838 and Aug. 13, 1838. 8. Ibid., Aug. 28, 1838. 9. Ibid., Aug. 13, Aug. 28, Sept. 6, Oct. 15, Dec. 12, Dec. 29, 1838; Jm. 15, 1839. 10. Ibid., Dec. 12, 1838. 11. Ibid., Jan. 30, 1839; and May 28,1839. 12. Ibid., Sept. 6,1838, p. 181; Light to Normanby, June 3,1839. 13. Ibid., Jan. 15, 1839. 14. Ibid., Light to Normanby, June 3, 1839. 15. Ibid., Light to Glenelg, Jan. 30, 1839. 16. Ibid., Light to Normanby, Apr. 26,1839. 17. Ibid., May 28, 1839. 18. For discussion of missionaries' roles under slavery and in abolition see,

for example, Turner, Slaves and Missionaries; Davis, The Problem ofSlavcry in Western Culture, and The Problem of Slavery in the A8e of Revolution; Roger Anstey, "Religion and British Slave Emancipation"; Holt, The Problem of Freedom; and nTilliams, Capitalism and Slavery. See also British Emancipator (to 1838) and Reporter (after 1840) for Anti-Slavery Society reports of persecution of missionaries from Non-conformist denominations. 19. "Progress of Industry," Light to Glenelg, Dec. 29, 1838. 20. Ibid. 21. Ibid., Light "To the Freed Men and Women of the 1st August," Oct. 8, 1838, enclosure in Light to Glenelg, Oct. 15,1838. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid. 24. Ibid. 25. Ibid., extract from Light's address to the Combined Court, Feb. 19, 1839, enclosure in Light to Glenelg, Feb. 20, 1839. The privileges to which he refers in this passage were housing and provision grounds, and stipendiary magistrates appointed to ensure laborers were being treated fairly and nrell. 26. See, for example, Blouet, "Earning and Learning"; Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture; Holt, The Problem of Freedom. 27. "Progress of Industry." 28. Ibid., extracts from Sir E. J. M. MacGregor's Speech to the Legislative House, May 21, 1839, and "From the Reply of the Assemble May 24,1839. 29. 'iImmigration and Deportation: Hill to Glenelg, Dec. 11, 1838. In response, Glenelg's successor Lord Normanby sent to Trinidad a copy of Glenelg's discouraging response to British Guiana's application for authorization to launch an extended immigration scheme at public expense. Normanby to Hill, Feb. 21, 1839. 30. Ibid.


Notes to Pages 74-81

31. "Progress of Industry," Colonel Mein to Normanby, May 10,1839. 32. "Affairs of British Guiana," Petition of Dec. 21, 1839, enclosure in Light to Russell, Dec. 22,1839. 33. This is the same petition discussed in Chapter 2. 34. For examples, see Chapter 3, references to Gladstone, Colvile, and Davidson to the Duke of Wellington, Feb. 28, 1838; Howick to Gladstone, Dec. 13,1839, John Gladstone Papers. See also Repmter I, 8 (Apr. 22,1840), p. 73, "Mr. Burnley's Letter to Lord John Russell, December 13,1839." 35. "Affairs of British Guiana? Petition of Dec. 21, 1839, enclosure in Light to Glenelg, Dec. 22,1839. 36. Reference to "Progress of Industry," Light to Normanbh Apr. 26, 1839. 37. "Affairs of British Guiana," Russell to Light, Feb. 15, 1840, reference to Light to Normanbh Apr. 26,1839. 38. Ibid. 39. Ibid., Russell to Light Feb. 15, 1840. Reprinted in the Anti-Slavery Reporter I, 7 (Apr. 8, 1840), pp. 69-70. 40. "Affairs of British Guiana? Russell to Light, Feb. 15, 1840. 41. Ibid. 42. Ibid. 43. See for example, Reporter I, 4 (Feb. 26, 1840), p. 39, for a reprint of a let-

ter sent by Edward Carbery, appointed recruitment agent in the United States for Demerara at a public meeting in Georgetown, from Baltimore; and Reporter I, 8 (Apr. 22,1840), P. 73, "Mr. Burnley's Letter to Lord John Russell," Dec. 13, 1839. Among other things, Burnley, who represented those interested in Trinidad's sugar industries, reported in this letter on the favorable reception his recruitment efforts met with when he was in the United States. 44. "Affairs of British Guiana," Russell to Light, Feb. 5, 1840. The authority Russell referred to was Burnley. 45. Ibid. 46. Ibid. 47. Ibid. 48. "Dickens Committee Report," Appendix: Henley, Dowson & Bestel to Government of India, July 23, 1838, and Dowson's dissenting minute. 49. Ibid. 50. See Chapter I. 51. "Dickens Committee Report," p. 9. 52. Ibid. For a similar argument, see Lord Brougham's speech to the House of Lords, Mar. 6,1838, entitled "Eastern Slave Trade," and with Sussex farm workers substituted for Irish peasants. 53. "Dickens Committee Report," J. P. Grant, "Minute on the Coolie Question," March I, 1841. 54. Ibid. 55. Repmter I, 5 (Mar. 11,1840), p. 45. 56. Grant, incidentally, would be appointed Protector of Emigrants at Calcutta when indentured emigration was resumed. 57. See, for example, Geoghegan, Note on Emtgratwn from Indla; Comins, Notes on Emgratwn; "Sanderson Committee Report, 11."

Notes to Pages 81-87


58. "Parliamentary Proceedings," June 22, 1840, reprinted in the Reporter I, I4 (July 1, 1840), p. 149. 59. Ibid; Green, British SlaveEmancz$atwn,p. 268; Temperley, White Dreams,

Black Africa. 60. "Parliamentary Proceedings," June 22, 1840, reprinted in the Reporter I, 14 (July I, 1840)~p. 149. As this debate took place in the House of Commons, the first World Anti-Slavery Convention, convened by the British and Foreign AntiSlavery Society, was being held in London. 61. Ibid. 62. Ibid. 63. "Parliamentary Proceedings," July 26, 1842, printed in Reporter 111, 16 ( A u ~10, . 1842), p. 127. 64. Ibid. While the majority concluded that indentured emigration incorrigibly corrupt and abusive, one member of the committee felt that regulation could eliminate most abuses. 65. Geoghegan, Note on Emzgratwnfrom India, p. 6 . 66. Comins, Notes on Emzgration from the East Indies to Trinidad, p. 2. 67. Ibid. 68. "Sanderson Committee Report," p. 3. 69. The witnesses included fifteen estate-operators, sixteen entrepreneurs in parts of British Africa that did not yet import laborers from India and forty-two government officers, eleven of whom had been Protectors in Calcutta or in importing colonies, recruiting agents, or labor magistrates. Sanderson Committee Report, 11; Tinker, AATw System ofSlavery, p. 308. 70. Summerbell himself was badgered by the committee when he gave evidence, but he was prepared for it and responded in kind. "Sanderson Committee Report, 11," Apr. I, 1909, pp. 36-41, 71. Ibid., June 24,1909, pp. 225-36. 72. Ibid., pp. 226-27. 73. "Sanderson Committee Report," pp. 1-2. 74. "Sanderson Committee Report, 11," testimony of Alfred Richards, July 16, 1909, pp. 307-9. 75. Ibid., p. 309. 76. Quoted in Reporter 111, 23 (Nov. 16, 1842), p. 184. 77. See, for example, objections of Hogg, a Member of both Parliament and the Board of Directors, to Russell's Colonial Passengers' Bill (1840) and Stanley's (1842). "Parliamentary Proceedings," June 22,1840, piinted inReporter I, 14 (July I, 1840), p. 150; "Parliamentary Proceedings: on introduction of Bill on March I, 1842, printed in Reporter 111, 6 (Mar. 23, 1842), p. 47, and on third reading on July 26, 1842, printed in Reporter 111, 16 (Aug. 10, 1842), p. 127. 78. See Chapter I. 79. "Further Papers respecting the East India Labourers' Bill," 1842, Court of Directors to Government of India (Legislative Department, no. 4 of 1842), Mar. 22,1842. 80. Ibid. 81. See Tinker, A New System of Slavery and Mangru, Benevolent Neutrality. 82. In "Indentured Labour and Group Formations in Apartheid Society,"


Notes to Pages 88-96

Meer notes that Indian indentured workers in Natal "unwittingly . . . were forced into becoming the international scabs of the nineteenth century" p. 47.

Chapter Four

I. Quoted in Robinson, "Coming to Terms," p. 379. 2. On British antislavery, see Temperley, British Antislavery, 1833-1870; Bolt and Drescher, eds., Anti-Slavery, Relgwn, and Rejlmm; Midgley, Women A~ainst Slavery; Turley, The Culture of En~lishAntislavery. 3. Colonial Magazine and A4aritime-Commercial Gazette I, z (1842),p. 249. 4. Temperley, British Antislavery, pp. 62-68. 5. Repmter, I, I (January IS, 1840), p. I. 6. Ibid. 7. Green, British Slave Emanctpatwn, p. 85, citing Anti-Slavery Society Papers, Stephen to Grey, Sept. 21, 1838 and Stephen to Vernon-Smith, July 25, 1840. The extent of this exclusion is not clear. 8. Reports of committees of inquiry for example, or correspondence between the Colonial Office and colonial governors, individuals, lobbyists, and so on. 9. Repmter I, 5 (Mar. 11, 1840),p. 44. 10. Ibid. 11. This point is discussed further in Chapter 5. See also Turley, The Culture of British Antislavery, ch. 5. 12. Repmter I, 5 march 11, 1840), p. 44. The investigation to which he referred resulted in the "Dickens Committee Report" (see Chapter I, n. 71). 13. Ibid. 14. Ibid. IS. Repmter I, z (Jan. 29,1840)~p. 16, ''Failure of the Crop in British Guiana," and Repmter 111, 13 (June 29, 1842), p. 101, quoting PP (HC) 1839, "Progress of Industry," Light to Normanby, Apr. 26, 1839; May 28, 1839; June 26, 1839. See also Cohial Magazine and Maritime-Commercial Gazette 1 1 1 , ~(Sept.-Dec., 1840), p. 298. 16. Repmter I, 4 (Feb. 26,1840), p. 39. 17. Ibid. 18. Repmter 111, 13 (June 29, 1842), pp. 101-2, quoting Light to Russell, June 15,1840. 19. My approach to these data is informed by the work done by anthropologists and historians of colonial India; see, for example, Cohn, "Census, Social Structure and Objectification in South Asian," pp. 15-51; and Ludden, "India's Development Regime." 20. Repmter 111, 16 (Aug. 10,1842), p. 125, quoting from PP (HC) 1842, "Report of the Select Committee on West India Colonies." 21. Ibid. See also Colonial Magazine and Maritime-Commercial Gazette. 2nd ser., I, 2 (1842), pp. 152-59, 249-51. 22. Ibid.

Notes to Pages 96-105


23. Ibid. (emphasis in the original). 24. Reporter I, 3 (Feb. 12, 1840), p. 18. 25. Ibid. 26. Colonial Gazette, Jan. I, 1840; Morning Chronicle, Dec. 26,1839. 27. Reporter I, 3 (Feb. 12,1840), P. 18. 28. Ibid. 29. "A 'Cry' from British Guiana:'Reporter 111, z (Jan. 26,1842), p. 15. 30. Ibid. 31. Ibid. 32. Ibid. 33. Ibid. 34. Ibid. 35. Scoble to editors, Feb. 22, 1840 ("The Coolies at Mauritius") Reporter I, 4 (Feb. 26,1840), P. 25. 36. Ibid. 37. Ibid. 38. For more on Indian indentured migration to Mauritius, see Carter, "The Transition from Slave to Indentured Labour in Mauritius: pp. 114-30; and Carter,

Servants, Sirdars, and Settlers. 39. Ibid. 40. For similar perspectives on this assumption see, for example, Cell, British Colonial Administration in the Mid-Nineteenth Century, ch. I; also Stoler, "Making Empire Respectable"; and "Rethinking Colonial Categories: European Communities and the Boundaries of Rule." 41. See Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation. 42. Reporter, I, 4 (Feb. 26,1840), p. 26, escerpted from PP (HC) 1840, no. 58: Dick to special magistrates, Oct. 15, 1838. 43. Reporter I, 4 (Feb. 26, 1840), p. 26, excerpt from PP (HC) 1840, no. 58: Anderson to Dick, November 19, 1838. 44. Ibid., P. 27. 45. Ibid. 46. Ibid. 47. Ibid., Anderson to Dick, Nov. 29, Nov. 30, 1838, pp. 27-28; Campbell, Villiers Forbes, Hugon, Burp to Dick, Dec. 5, 1838, p. 28. 48. Ibid., Anderson to Dick, Nov. 30, 1838, p. 28. 49. Ibid. 50. Ibid., p. 27, Dick to commissioners, Oct. 15, 1838. 51. Ibid., Campbell,Villiers Forbes, Hugon, Bury to Dick, Dec. 5,1838, p. 28. 52. Ibid. 53. Ibid., Dick to Commissioners, Dec. 31, 1838, P. 28. 54. Ibid. 55. Scoble, "The Coolies at Mauritius," Reporter I, 4 (Feb. 26, 1840), p. 2s. 56. Ibid., p. 26 (emphasis in the original). Here he is referring to Governor Nicolay of Mauritius to Normanby, lMay 21,1839. 57. Ibid., p. 30. 58. Ibid.


Notes to Pages 105-12

59. Ibid., Commissioners to Dick, Mar. 16, 1839. 60. Ibid. 61. Ibid., p. 26, instructions from Dick to Commissioners, Oct. 15, 1838, regarding purpose of inquiry they had been commissioned to undertake; quoted from request to the government of Mauritius received from the President in Council of the Government of Bengal. On implications of British law on married women's testimony in cases concerning their husbands, see for example, Burton, "Rules of Thumb." 62. "Immigration to Mauritius: "Memorial to the Right Honorable Lord Stanley," and "Petition to the House of Commons," from the Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (Feb. 28, 1842); "Emigration of Hill Coolies and Other Indian Labourers into the Mauritius," Reporter 111, 5 (Mar. 9, 1842), pp. 33-35, 40. Colonial Magazine and Marztime-CommercialGazette 111, 12 (Sept.-Dec., 1840), p. 415. 63. Reporter 3rd ser. VI, I (Jan. I, 1858),p. 9. 64. Ibid. 65. Ibid.: letters to the editors, from "Expertus," excerpted from the London Times, Nov. 22, 1857 ( p p 9-11), NO\'. 24, 1857; Dec. 19, 1857 ( p p 14-15); Reporter 3rd ser. VI, 3 (Mar. I, 1858),p. 58, excerpted letter to the Times, July 16, 1857 (pp. 60-61), July 18,1857 (PP 61-62).

Chapter Five I. Gladstone, "Speech delivered in the House of Commons on the Motion . . . for the Abolition of the Negro Apprenticeship," Friday, March 30, 1838 (London, 1838). 2. Debates on "Introduction of slave-grown produce from Cuba and Brazil," and "Emigration from Africa to the British West Indies," Proceedings of the General Anti-Slavery Convention Called by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society and held in London, June 13-20,1843 (London, 1843) (hereafter Proceedings, Second Convention), pp. 127-73,238-64; Anti-Slavery Repmter V, 7 (Apr. 4, 1844). 3. See especially Turley, The Culture of British Antislavery, ch. 8; and Midgley, Women A ~ a i n sSlavery. t 4. Repmter I, 4 (Feb. 26,1840), p. 39. 5. Ibid., I, I (Jan. IS, 1840), p. 5 . 6. Ibid., I, 10 (May 20, 1840), pp. 101-2. 7. Ibid., I, 19 (Sept. 9, 184o), p. 235. See also ColonialMagazzne and Maritime-Commercial Gazette 111, 2 (Sept.-Dec. 1840), p. 297, where Peck and Price's report was reprinted in full, along with a glowing report on productive capacity of British Guiana to counter planters' representations. 8. Lord Brougham, "Speech to the House of Lords upon the Eastern Slave Trade," Tuesday, March 6,1838, p. 46. 9. See, for example, Davidoff and Hall, Family Fortunes.

Notes to Pages 112-29


10. See Chapter I. 11. Proceedings ofthe World Anti-Slavery Convention, Stephen Lushington, day 10, 1840 (hereafter Proceedings, 1840). All subsequent references to these proceed-

ings in this chapter are cited by page number in text. 12. This discussion of British abolitionism is indebted to the secondary literature on the topic, especially Williams, Capitalism and Slavery;Temperley,British Antislavery; Bolt and Drescher, eds., Anti-Slavery, Relgion, and Reform; Midgely, Women Against Slavery; Turley, The Culture of British Anti-Slavery. Students of British abolitionism appear to agree that the movement lost momentum and influence after emancipation and indeed, some abolitionists publicly worried about this at the BFASS 1843 Anti-Slavery Convention. It seems to me, however, approaching the issue from my research and focus on Indian indentured migration, that if their influence was less noticeable after 1838 it was because at this juncture the critiques of and accommodations to British capitalism and imperialism they had made earlier in the century became mainstream, the stuff of con\.entional liberalism. 13. See, for example, in "Dickens Committee Report: Dowson's and Grant's separate minutes dissenting from the Report of the majority of the Committee appointed by the Governor of Bengal to investigate allegations of abuse in recruitment of indentured migrants to Mauritius. 14. For further discussion of gender, see Kelly, A Politics of Virtue; Lal, "Kunti's Cry," and "Veil of Dishonour"; Reddock, "Freedom Denied"; Economic and Political Weekly 20, 43 (October 26, 1985), pp. 79-87; Mohammed, "Writing Gender into History." 15. Brougham, "Eastern Slave Trade," p. 31. 16. Prakash, Bonded Histories, pp. 8-12; 218-25. 17. Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture; Foner, Nothing But Freedom; Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery; Holt, The Problem of Freedom; Prakash, Bonded Histories. 18. Ambivalence over the Indian empire persisted, however. During the 1843 Convention, John Scoble noted that, while the Convention could congratulate themselves on having effected the abolition of slavery in British India, this should not be mistaken for approval of the way India had become British. 19. The reverse flow of benefits was imagined by some observers in later years. In the aftermath of the 1857-59 Rebellion in northern I n d a (including regions of most intensive recruitment for indentured labor migration), some Indian and Imperial government officials suggested that some rebels might be banished to the British Caribbean colonies to labor on sugar plantations for the remainder of their lives. C. 0. 88512 xviii, "iMemorandum," Wodehouse to Labouchere, Aug. 28, 1857. In 1913, Archdeacon Josa suggested in an article in Timheri that since Indian women's prospects improved so dramatically in emigration, the Government should encourage it for their sakes. Indeed, he asked, "Why not import the child-widow of India?" Timheri 111, I (Sept. 1913), p. 28; see also Chapter 7. 20. Hall, White, Ahale and Middle-Class. 21. Proceedings of the General Anti-Slavey Convention, 1843 (hereafter Proceedings, 1843), p. 128. 22. Anstie further charged that the resolution in question had been passed on


Notes to Pages 129-36

the last day of the 1840 Convention when, "unhappily some of us had gone home," p. 13s. This was reiterated by George Knox. p. 169. 23. Ironically, perhaps, Anstie cited editorials from the Anti-Slavery Reporter of the 1820s to make free trade points against the London Committee-dominated editorial board of the BFASS Reporter of the 1840s (two different journals). 24. See especially the speeches of J. Richardson (p. 137), E. Miall (pp. 16061), and John Allen (pp. 170-71). Miall, whose speech was probably the most flamboyant and also representative of the lot, said, "I hold it to be the inalienable right of man to dispose of the produce of his own labour where he will, none daring to make him afraid. I hold that none can take away from him this, which I esteem to be his birthright . . . he who takes from him his right to trade where he will absolutely trespasses upon the rights of human nature. If this be a right, then, even to accomplish a great and important end [as abolition of slavery worldwide], I am not permitted by the laws of Christianity-the laws of God-to trample upon it" (p. 160). 25. Temperley, on Niger expedition. 26. For more on the treaties, see review of preceding 3 years' activity presented at beginning of 1843 convention; see also Temperley, British Antislavery, and Schuler, 'Hlas, Alas, Konpo". 27. "The Sugar Question,"Reporter V, 7 (Apr. 4, IS++),p. 50.

Chapter Six I. See, for example, Dabydeen and Samaroo, eds., India in the Caribbean; Birbalsingh, ed. Indenture and Exile; Johnson, Afcer the Crossiw;Mangru, Benevolent Neutrality;van der Veer, ed., Natwn and Mipation; Vertovec, Hindu Trinidad. For extended discussion of this issue and its literature see Khan, "Purity, Piety, and Power," parts I, 11. 2. Prakash, Bonded Histmies, and "Introduction:' in Prakash ed., World of the Rural Labourer. 3. Laurence, AQuestwn of Labour, pp. 107-8. 4. "Dickens Committee Report." 5 . Swinton and Swinton,Journal of a Voyapewith Coolie Emigrants)from Calcutta to Trinidad, p. 12. 6. "Affairs of British Guiana," Russell to Light Feb. IS, 1840; "Dickens Committee Report," p. 2. 7. Emmer, "The Great Escape"; Reddock, "Freedom Denied"; Mohammed, "Writing Gender into History." 8. "Dickens Committee Report," Grant, Minute dissenting from Majority report. 9. Geoghegan, Note on Emigration from India; Cornins, Note on Emzgratwn from the East Indies to Trinidad "Sanderson Committee Report," pp. 17,58- 59; Emmer, "Great Escape." 10. Carter, Servants, Sirdurs and Settlers, pp. 53-60.

Notes to Pages 137-44


11. Laurence, A Question of Labour, pp. 127-28. 12. Grierson, Report on Colonial Emigration, p. 42. 13. Grierson, Colonial Emgration, pp. 34, 42; Carter, Servants, Sirdars, and Settlers, pp. 53-50. 14. Grierson, Colonial Emigration, diarh Jan. 8,1858. 15. Grierson, Colonial Emigration, p. 18. 16. Ibid., p. 15. 17. Laing, Handbook for Suyeons Superintendents of the Coolie Emigration Service, pp. 41-42. 18. "Sanderson Committee Report, 11," Warner 29-30; Ramnarine, "Over a Hundred Years of East Indan Disturbances on the Sugar Estates of Guyana," p. 25; Laurence, A Question of Labour, p. 128. 19. Ramnarine, "East Indian Disturbances," pp. 122, 125; Laurence, A Question of Labour, pp. 116, 132, 149. 20. Laurence, AQuestion of Labour, pp. 115-18. 21. Ramnarine, "East Indian Disturbances: p. 125; Haraksingh, "Control and Resistance," p. 67. 22. van der Veer, "The Idea of Diaspora," p. 4. 23. Grierson, Colonial Emigration, diary, Jan. 8, 1883. 24. Kolff, "Indian Expansion and Indian Diaspora"; Kerr, Building the Railways of the Raj. 25. "Sanderson Committee Report; pp. 17-18. 26. Swinton and Surinton,Journal of a Voyage; Comins, Note on Emigration; "Sanderson Committee Report, 1-111." 27. Grierson, Colonial Emigration, 69; "Sanderson Committee Report, 11," Bolton, p. 191. 28. Reddock, "Freedom Denied"; Mohammed, "Writing Gender into History." 29. On Indian women and indentured migration to Natal, see Beall, "Women under Indenture in Colonial Natal." Beall criticizes Brian Moore ("Sex and Marriage Among Indian Immigrants in British Guiana") for "an uncritical reading of official sources" on women's alleged promiscuity, and Rhoda Reddock (in "Freedom Denied") for "exaggerating the level of resistance . . . exercised by women under indenture," pp. 71-72. 30. Chandra Jayawardena, "Ideology and Conflict in Lower Class Communities"; Ramnarine, "East I n l a n Disturbances"; Haraksingh, "Control and Resistance"; Samaroo, "The Indian Connection." 31. Haraksingh, "Control and Resistance," and "Structure, Process and Indian Culture in Trinidad," pp. 117-19. 32. Cohn, An Anthropologist Among the Historians; Prakash, "Writing PostOrientalist Histories of the Third World"; Dirks, "Castes of mind." 33. ~Mohapatra,"Longing and Belonging"; Kelly, A Politics of Virtue; Samaroo, "The Indian Connection"; van der Veer and Vertovec, "Brahmanism Abroad"; Vertovec, Hindu Trinidad. For a discussion of these questions in the East African context see T~i~addle, "East African Asians Through a Hundred Years"; Meer, "In-


Notes to Pages 145-53

dentured Labour and Group Formations in Apartheid Society," pp. 50-55. See also Tinker, Separate and Unegual; Morris, The Indians in Uganda;Mangat, A History of the Asians in East Africa; Ghai and Ghai, eds., Portrait of a Minority. 34. James Rodway, "Labour and Colonisation," Timheri VI (Sept. 191g), p. 37. 35. de Verteuil, Trinidad, pp. 160-61. 36. Gamble, Trinidad: Historical and Descrz;btive,pp. 33-4. 37. de Verteuil, Trinidad, p. 160. 38. White, "Emigration from China to the West Indies: White to Barkly, June 21,1851. 39. "Free Labourers from the East"; Higman, "The Chinese in Trinidad, 1806-1838," regarding the unsuccessful attempt that followed. 40. White, "Emigration from China to the West Indies," White to Barkly, Aug. 21,1851. 41. Ibid., citing Bengal Hurkaru, may 27,1851. 42. Gamble, Trinidad, p. 36 (emphasis in original). 43. Schuette, "The London West India Committee," p. 85, citing Scoble (now Secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society) to Lord George Bentinck, June 13,1846. 44. "Sanderson Committee, 11," Warner, Mar. 26,1909; pp. 29-30. 45. Timheri VI (Sept. 1919), "Special Colonisation Issue." 46. Ibid, Hill, "Emigration from India," pp. 50-51. 47. Ibid. 48. Ibid., Luckhoo, "The East Indians in British Guiana." 49. Ibid., p. 53. 50. Ibid., p. 57. 51. Norman, Repmt on the Coolie Disturbawes in Trinidad. Also published as PP (HC) 1885 "Correspondence respecting the Recent Coolie disturbances in Trinidad at the Mohurrum Festival, with the Report thereon by Sir H . W. Norman." 52. Ibid. See also Singh, Blaodrtained Tmbs. Singh shows that before the events of October 1884, some more prosperous Trinidad Indian Muslims had complained to colonial authorities that the Mohurrarn processions in which plantation laborers, irrespective of religion, arere participating threatened the peace and were offensive to respectable Indians. 53. Norman, Report, Dec 18,1884, letter from J. E. Andre to Charles H . Allen, Anti-Slavery Society, to editor of the London Times. This letter was reprinted in the Times of India in a boxed section sometimes set aside for such historical documents. Times ofIndia, "Archives," July 2, 1991. 54. Norman, Report, Norman to the Earl of Derby, Jan. 13,1885. 55. Ibid., p. 4. 56. Ibid., p. 9. 57. Ibid., pp. 8-10. 58. Singh, Blaodstained Tombs; Sookdeo, "Festivals and Plantations." 59. For a discussion of the ways events such as those described here could be interpreted in multiple ways, see Shahid Amin, Event, Metaphor, Memory, pp. 2-18.

Notes to Pages 153-59


60. Norman Report, p. 10. 61. Singh, Bloodstained Tombs.

Chapter Seven I. Sharpe, Allegories o f Empire, pp. 12-13. See also Visweswaran, "Refusing the Subject," Fictions ofFeminist Ethnography, pp. 70-72. 2. In "Feminist Reflections on Deconstructive Ethnography,"Visweswaran refers to her earlier use of the metaphor in "Betrayal: An Analysis in Three Acts," Fictions of Feminist Ethrwgraphy. See also Bhabha, The Location of Culture, pp. 253-

54. 3. "Masters and Employers: Gladstone to Gillanders, Artbuthnot & Co., Jan. 4, 1836, enclosure no. I in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 28, 1838. 4. Ibid., Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co. to Gladstone, June 6,1836, enclosure no. 2 in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 28,1838. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid., Gladstone to Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co., March 10, 1837, enclosure no. 3 in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 28,1838. 7. Ibid., Gladstone to Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co., Mali 23, 1837, enclosure no. 4 in Gladstone to Glenelg, Feb. 28, 1838. 8. Morissey, "Women's Work, Family Formation, and Reproduction Among Caribbean Slaves"; John, The Plantation Slaves o f Trinidad, 1783-1816; Dunn, "'Dreadful Idlers' in the Cane Fields." The data Dunn uses in this study indicate that, after abolition of the slave trade, a steadily increasing proportion of the field laborers on the Jamaican sugar plantation Mesopotamia were women. He notes that this was modal for Jamaican plantations, and adds that, by 1834, on only one of the ZI largest estates in Westmoreland parish did men outnumber uromen in the field labor forces (p. 180). However, he does not comment on this, emphasizing instead slave women's severely limited access to what he calls "privileged" occupations-is., supervisory, craft, and stock work-themselves defined in highly gendered terms, as extra-domesticlabor (pp. 174-75). See also, Holt, The Problem o f Freedom, who notes that "women made up 61 percent of the apprentice population of Worthy Park and two-thirds of its field labor force." On Friendship and Greenwich estates they made up 71 percent of the field labor force ( p. 152). 9. "East India Labourers' Bill," no. 8, Gladstone to Gre!~, mar. 23, 1837. 10. ~Midgley,"Anti-Slavery and Feminism in Nineteenth-Century Britain," and Women Against Slavery; Ferguson, Subject to Others; Catherine Hall, White, &le, and Middle Class. 11. See, for example, Poovey, "Curing the 'Social Body' in 1832:) pp. 197-98; Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, pans 2, 3; Scott, Gender and the Politics of History, pp. 68-93; also Engels, The Condition of the Working Chss in England. 12. "East India Labourers' Bill: no. 8, Gladstone to Grey, Mar. 23, 1837. 13. Hall, "White Visions. Black Lives"; Rodney, A History of the Guyanese


Notes to Pages 159-68

W d i n g People, p. 39; Williams, "Trinidad's Labour Problem After Emancipation"; North-Coombes, "From Slavery to Indenture"; Haraksingh, "Control and Resistance Among Indian Workers," pp. 61-64. 14. "East India Labourers' Bill: Gladstone to Hobhouse, Feb. 23, 1837, enclosure no. I in no. 4. IS. Ibid. 16. See Wood, Trinidad in Transition, pp. 107-59; Tinker, A New System of Slavery; Mangru, "The Sex-Ratio Disparity and Its Consequences"; for differing critiques of this tendency in both primary and secondary literature, see especially Reddock, "Freedom Denied," Brij Lal, "Kunti's Cry," and "Veil of Dishonour"; and John Kelly, A Politics of Virtue. 17. Repmter I, 3 (Feb. 12, 1840),p. 17. 18. Repmter I, 4 (Feb. 26,1840), p. 25. Scoble made the observations regarding L'Africans"when he spoke at the 1843 World Anti-Slavery Convention against schemes to import indentured labor from India. Proceedings, 1843, June 19 (Day 6), p. 259. 19. Repmter I, 5 (Mar. 11, 1840), p. 42. 20. Patterson, Slavery and Social Death. I am suggesting here not only the fragility and contingency of boundaries separating categories of slave and "free" labor, but also the gendered assumptions on which Patterson's influential discussion are predicated. Gilroy, in The Black Atlantic, acknowledges that these are gendered constructions. 21. Repmter I, 5 (Mar. 11, 1840),p. 45. 22. Ibid. 23. "Sanderson Committee Report," despatch of Marquess of Salisbury, Secretary of State for India, Mar. 24, 1875. 24. See for example, Cohn, An Anthropologist Among the Historians, pp. 22454, 136-71; Prakash, "Writing Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World," pp. 384-408. 25. See, for example, Ballhatchet, R u e , Sex) and Class Under the Raj. Colonel Duncan Pitcher, Deputy Director of Agriculture for Oudh and the Northwest Provinces, succinctly reflected prevailing attitudes when, testifying before the Sanderson Committee in 1908, he noted that recruiters were generally obliged to "sweep in the Bazaar women" in order to make up the statutory number for emigration. "Sanderson Committee Report, 11," Pitcher, June 7,1909, P. 176. 26. Andrews and Pearson, Indian Indentured Labour in Fyi, app., p. 6, quoted in Lal, "Kunti's Cry," p. 58. A version of this document is also quoted by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya in the Legislative Council on March 20,1916, in the course of further debate on abolition of Indian indentured emigration. India Legislative Council Proceedings, 1915-16, p. 404. 27. Greierson, Repmt on Colonial Emgration, p. 35. 28. Chanerjee, "The Nationalist Resolution of the Women's Question." See also Sen, "Motherhood and Mothercraft." 29. Government of India, Legislative Proceedings, iMarch 4,1912, p. 364. 30. See Levine, "Women and Prostitution: Metaphor, Reality, History." 31. Government of India, Legislative Proceedings, March 4,1912, p. 368.

Notes to Pages 168-74


32. Ibid. 33. Ibid., p. 366. 34. "Sanderson Committee Report." 35. Government of India, Legislative Proceedings, March 4,1912, p. 396 36. Ibid., pp. 371-72. 37. Ibid., p. 377. 38. Ibid., pp. 371-72. 39. Ibid., pp. 381-82.

Postscript Hutchins, The Illusion of Pcnnanence, p. 101. Rushdie, The Satanic Ve~scs,p. 343; cited in Bhabha, The Location of Culture, p. 6. 3. Stoler, "Making Empire Respectable." 4. Ibid., p. 84. 5. Gapatri Spivak, "The Rani of Simur." 6. See Prakash, "Introduction: After Colonialism." I.


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Reporter (journal of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society) British Emancipator Colonial Magazine and ikfaritime-Commercial Gazette Friend of India Times of India Timheri: The Journal of the Royal Apicultural and Commercial Society of British Guiana


House of Commons 1810-11 I1 no. 409, Report of the Select Committee appointed to consider of the

practicability & expediency of supplying our West India Colonies with free Labourers from the East. 1836 no. 560, Report of the Select Committee on Negro Apprenticeship in the Colonies. 1837-38 111no. 559, Protection of Natives of the East Indies contracting for Labour [overseas]. 1837-38 XIV no. 485, Copies of all Orders in Council or Colonial Ordinances for the better regulation and enforcement of the relative Duties of Masters and Employers, and articled Servants, Tradesmen, and Labourers, in the Colonies of British Guiana and Mauritius; and of Correspondence relating thereto. [Similar to (HC) 1838, no. 232.1 1839 XXXIX, no. 525, Correspondence relative to the Condition of Hill Coolies and Other Labourers who have been introduced into British Guiana. [See also (HC) 1839 XXXVI, no. 463.1 1839 XXXVI, Papers relative to the West Indies: Part I: Progress of Industry and General Condition of Society Since August I, 1838.

Part 11: State of the Law of the West Indies, as it non7Exists. Pan 111: New Laws Proposed to Meet the New Relations of Society.



Part VI: Laws relating to Immigration and Deportation from One Colony to Another. 1840 XXXIV no. 77, Reports and Despatches of Governor of British Guiana respecting Hill Coolies introduced into the Colony. 1840 no. 151, Correspondence between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Governors of British Guiana, respecting the Immigration of Labourers. [See also (HL) 1839 VII no. 101.1 1841 session I, XVI nos. 287 and 483, Hill Coolies and Indian Labourers. Report of the Committee to Enquire into Alleged Abuses in Exporting from Bengal to Other Countries. 1841 session 11,111 no. 346, Coolies in British Guiana: Report. 1842 XIII, no. 479, Report from the Select Committee on West India Colonies. 1842 XXX, no. 192, Letter from the Secretary to the Government of India to the Committee on Exportation of Hill Coolies to Mauritius. 1843 XXXIII no. 136, Return of number of Immigrants into British West India Colonies & Guiana, August 1834-43. 1843 XXXV no. 404, Correspondence relating to Return of Coolies from British Guiana to India. 1844 XXXV no. 284, [-5911 Communications from the Governor-General of India relative to the Projected Emigration of Hill Coolies to the West Indies. 1844 XXXV no. 530, Correspondence relative to Emigration of Labourers to the West Indies & Mauritius, from the West Coast of Africa, the East Indies, & China. 1846 XXIII no. 691, Immigration into Mauritius & the West Indies. 1846 XXXVII no. 691-11, Immigration of Labourers into the West Indian Colonies and Mauritius. Copies or extracts of any Orders in Council or Despatches to any of the West Indian Colonies, respecting the Supply of Labour to these Colonies since April 22, 1846. 1846 XXX no. 322, Correspondence between the Colonial Office & Authorities in the West Indian Islands relative to proposed Loan in Aid of Immigration; Resolutions by Legislative Assemblies, 1843-45. 1847 XXXIX no. 496, Return of number of Free Emigrants into Jamaica, British Guiana, Trinidad, &Mauritius, since the Abolition of Slavery. 1847 XXXIX no. 325, Correspondence relative to the Supply of Labour to the West Indies &Mauritius. 1847 LVII Pt. IV, Indexes to Reports of Commissioners (West Indies & Mauritius -Labour), 1832-47. 1847-48 XLIV no. 370, Despatches authorizing Expenditures for Coolies, and Other Expenses for Guiana & Trinidad. 1847-48 XLIV no. 62, Correspondence on the Supply & Regulation of Labour, & the General Condition Trinidad. 1847-48 XLV no. 63, Laws, Ordinances & Rules in West India Colonies for the Regulation of Labour between Masters and Servants. 1847-48 XLV no. 419, Acts for Suppression of Vagranch Prevention of Squatting, or Encouragement and Enforcement of Labour Contracts, passed by Colonial Legislatures since 1834, but disallowed by Secretary of State.



1848, XLVI no. 749, Correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Governors of the Sugar-Growing Colonies, as to the Distress now existing in these Colonies. 1849 XXXVII no. 280, 280-11, Correspondence with Governors of Jamaica, Trinidad & Mauritius relating to General Condition & Government of Colonies, Part 11, Trinidad & Mauritius. 1852-53 LXVIII no. 986, Despatches relating to Chinese Immigrants into the Colonies of British Guiana & Trinidad. 1857-58 XLI no. 525, Letters by Members of the West India Committee to the Secretary of State for the colonies, on Emigration from China to the Colonies of British Guiana & Trinidad. 1857-58 XLIII no. 521, Communications on Mortality on Board British Ships carrying Emigrants from China or India. 1859 session I, XVI no. 2452, Papers relating to Immigration to West India Colonies. 1859 session I1 XX no. 31, XXI no. 32-14 Correspondence bemeen the Colonial Office &West Indian Colonies &Mauritius with respect to the Condition of the Labouring Population and the Supply of Labour. 1859 XXIII, no. 30, Coolie Emigration: Return of numbers from India or China landed in Mauritius or the West Indies, 1835-58. 1860 XLV no. 250, Return of Loans by British Government to the West Indian Colonies, British Guiana, & ~Mauritiusfor Immigration. 1885, Correspondence respecting the Recent Coolie Disturbances in Trinidad at the Festival of Mohurrum, with the Report thereon by Sir. H . W. Norman, K.C.B.,C.I.F. South Africa. (Natives) 1901-1908. Papers relating to Certain Legislation of the Late South African Republic Affecting Natives, July, 1901; and Native Pass Law no. 23 of 1899, Appendix: (Consolidated) Trinidad Immigration Ordinance of 1899. 1910, XXVII, Committee on Emigration from India to the Crown Colonies and Protectorates. Part I: Report, Part 11: Minutes of Evidence, Part 111: Appendices.

House of Lords 1837-38 VIII no. 163, Emigration of Natives of India under Contract (Prohibition): Instructions to the Governor-General. 837-38 XIV no. 88, Emigration of Hill coolies: Letters addressed by John Gladstone to the Colonial Secretary. 1838 no. 232, Orders in Council for the regulation of Masters and Employers, and Articled Labourers, in the Colony of British Guiana. 1839 VII no. 101, Correspondence benveen the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Governors of British Guiana, respecting the Immigration of Labourers. [See also (HC) 1840, no. 151.1



Clwyd Record [email protected] John Gladstone Papers, Glynne-Gladstone MSS: 358 Immigrant Labor. I am indebted to Alexandra Franklin for citations from this source.

Public Record [email protected] I. CO 297: Trinidad. Acts. 10. Ordinance to Make Provision as to the Marriages and Divorces of Indian Immigrants: S o . 6 of 1881. Ordinance for Regdating the Festivals of Immigrants, No. 9 of 1882. 12. Ordinance to amend no. vi [no. 6,1881, above], August 12, 1889, no. 17. 13. Ordinance to Consolidate and Amend the Law as to the Marriages and Divorces of Indian Immigrants: December 7, 1893, no. 23. 15. Ordinance to Consolidate and Amend the Laws relating to Immigration, no. 12 of 1897. 17. Ordinance to provide a Fund for the Repatriation of Indian Immigrants, No. 2 of 1902. 2. CO 318: West Indies, General, Immigration: 162. NO. 2304, Coolie Emigration, Wilson, Agent for Trinidad, to Hope, Colonial Office, Calcutta, October 18,1844. 3. CO 884: West Indies. Confidential Prints: I vi. Memoranda on the progress of the free system in the West India Colonies, February 6,1841. I ix. Papers relating to the Progress of various West India Islands, 185o-j1,1850, 1851. 2 xv. Emigration of free negroes from the USA; Correspondence. July 2, 1862April 18, 1863. 4 xl. Carnival Disturbances; Mr. Hamilton's Report, June 13, 1881. Iv. Report on the Coolie Disturbances in Trinidad, by Governor of Jamaica, Sir H. W. Norman, to the Earl of Derby, January 13,1885. 9 no. 147. Notes on West Indian Riots, 1881-1903, March, 1905. no. 152. East Indian immigration into the West Indies; memorandum by Mr. Cowell, March, 1906. 4. CO 885: Miscellaneous. Confidential Print: I. vii, On Propositions to Reform our colonial System, January 9,1850; viii, Colonial Policy, and State of our Colonies, Foreign Office, January 10, 1850. ix, confidential, Summary of Correspondence relative to the Navigation Laws, Foreign Office, September 1847. xii, Memorandum on the Hill Coolie Papers, by James Spedding, August 26, 1839 (printed by command, 1839).



xiii, Proposed Emigration of Labourers from the East to the West Indies, printed for Parliament, No. 284; Colonial Office, June 5,1844. xvi, confidential. James T. White, "Emigration from China to the West Indies: Colonial Office, Dec. 22, 1851. wii, Correspondence Relative to Emigration of Chinese Coolies, London, 1853.

xi\; confidential. Memorandum on the Proposed Emigration of Labourers from the East to the West Indies. ca. 1844. mi, Duties of the Emigration Agents in India for the W India Colonies, July I, 1844.

xviii, Memorandum by P. E. Wodehouse, London, to Mr. Labouchere, regarding the expediency of transferring to the West Indian colonies the mutineers and others now in rebellion in the East Indies. Aug. 28, 1857. 5 . Lum, Handbook for coolie emigrant surgeons; Mr. Laing. March, 1889.

India [email protected] Library and Records Coolie Export Enquiry. Dickens Committee, 1838-39 (Calcutta, 1839). Further Papers respecting the East India Labourers' Bill, 1842. Government of India. Legislative Department, Proceedings of the Council of the Governor General of India, 1912. Government of India. Legislative Department, Proceedings of the Council of the Governor General of India, v. 54, 1915-16. Papers respecting the East India Labourers' Bill, 1839. Protector of Emigrants, Calcutta. Annual Report on Emigration from the Port of Calcutta, 1881-1903.

Agricultural Society and Trinidad Chamber of Commerce. "Meeting to Receive Sir W. Cuthbert Quilter and Sir Neville Lubbock." Pamphlet, January I, 1899. Agricultural Society of Trinidad. "The Proceedings of the Joint Meeting of the Agricultural Society of Trinidad on the West India Royal Commission." Pamphlet, November 9, 1897. (ICS) Brougham. Eastern Slave Trade. Speech to House of Lords, &rch 6, 1838. London, 1838.

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