Archive for the ‘Nevis’ Category

Cruelty by Plantation Masters in the 19th Century and Anti-Aristocratic Sentiment

July 8, 2014

Okay, while we’re on the subject of slavery …

I used to do voluntary work back in the 1990s and early part of this century, cataloguing the government documents on slavery held by one of the local museums. It was interesting work, even if the subject itself is extremely grim. Looking through some the summaries I made this morning, I found one on the official correspondence between Governor Elliot of Nevis, and the Earl of Liverpool in Britain in 1817 regarding the prosecution of a plantation master, Edward Huggins, and his two sons, Peter and Edward, for excessively flogging their slaves. Although the slave trade had been banned throughout the British Empire in 1807, slavery still remained legal until 1833. It was then officially abolished, but effectively continued under the guise of ‘apprenticeship’.

The British had passed a series of measures designed to improve conditions. It was still legal to punish slaves by flogging, but this was limited to about 25 lashes. Which is still extremely unpleasant, but nowhere near as horrific as the hundreds of lashes some of them inflicted on their slaves. From what I can remember, Huggins and his sons had gone way over the 25 lashes. They were arrested and prosecuted. Huggins had been acquitted, and the colonial and British authorities were concerned about the way he had apparently packed the jury with his supporters.

What is interesting is that the correspondence also included observations on the declining ability of the free White population to act responsibly as citizens and legislators. They were also worried by the growth of anti-aristocratic feeling amongst Nevis’ lower classes.

It’s now nearly two centuries later, and we have an aristocratic government trying to bring back all the horrors of the 19th century, and there is a corresponding growth in anti-aristocratic feeling.

The more things change …

Advertisements