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‎Substance of the Debates on a Resolution for Abolishing the Slave Trade, which was moved in the House of Commons on the 10th June, 1806, and in the House of Lords on the 24th June, 1806. With an Appendix, containing Notes and Illustrations.‎

‎London, Phillips and Fardon, 1806. 8vo. In recent half calf with gilt lettering to spine. Vague traces from a blind tooled stamp to title-page. Title-page mounted and plate with a repair in one of the folding, otherwise a fine and clean copy. XI, (1), 216 pp. + folded plate depicting slaves packed in a ship's hull.‎

‎Rare first edition of this abridged verbatim report of debates in both the House of Commons and House of Lords on the resolution to abolish the African Slave Trade introduced by Britainâs first ever foreign secretary (or secretary of state) Charles James Fox â the present resolution effectively prohibited 2/3 of the British Slave Trade and was a seminal event that in the end was passed and received Royal Assent on 25 March 1807. Charles Fox and his supporters inside and outside Parliament, including William Wilberforce, who had led the parliamentary campaign against abolition since the 1790s, wanted new imports of African slaves into the Caribbean islands and the Americas to be abolished, but not slavery itself. It meant that if their Resolution was carried, the Africans already enslaved on the plantations in the Americas and the Caribbean would still remain slaves. Even on this, there was great resistance from the slave owners and their allies in Parliament. Two MPs from Liverpool were particularly fierce in their attacks on the Resolution. But in so doing, they unwittingly got Parliament to accept responsibility for the âAfrican Slave Tradeâ and the guilt thereof. âThe resolution was the motion to declare the slave trade âcontrary to the principles of justice, humanity, and sound policyâ and to commit the House to its abolition, that Fox introduced with a highly charged speech in the Commons on 10 June 1806. There was little substantive debate â his opponents mostly confined themselves to pointing out what they saw as the irrelevance of passing a resolution to which the Commons had effectively stood commited since 1792 â and Foxâs call for unanimity was as good as answered when only 15 divided in the minority against it (to 114 in its support). Employing the formal procedure of a conference a rather theatrical means of communicating with the Lord, on the 13th the Commons requested the other House to agree with this resolution. This they did on 24 June, after a debate, initiated by Grenville, during which the only major opposition came from Lord Hawkesbury, who followed his farther Lord Liverpool in resisting abolition on practical grounds, Westmoreland, who was forthright but ineffective, and Sidmouth, whose objection was deemed âwhimsicalâ by the succeeding speaker. The Session ended with ministers having made a dramatic demonstration of intent, which must have been apparent in parliament, while at the same time, using the less obvious sleigh of hand of having effectively made the supposedly non-government question of general abolition (a matter of conscience) into just as much an issue of ministerial confidence as had been the earlier Foreign Slave Trade Act. [âŠ] Judging from the speeches made, as well as the voting totals, it is apparent that by then most M.P.s and peers would have judged the issue as one of morality over economics. Such was the impetus behind the parliamentary movement for abolition that it survived the summer recess and the general election, although Wilberforce was among those who knew there would be a struggle ahead and feared the damaging effect of Foxâ death in September 1806â.(The British Slave Strade: Abolition Parliament and People, P. 149). William Wilberforce addressed exactly the same problem that had plagued Thomas Clarkson (founder of The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade) twenty years earlier, immediately before he too recounted the story of the Zong massacre as one of the facts of the trade: âIf the Members of this House could actually see one thousandth part of the evils of that practice which they have, for so many years, under one pretense or other, been prevailed on to suffer to be continued I do in my conscience verily believe, they would not suffer the Slave Trade to exist for another year, if they would for another hour. But it is because they do not see because some among us, receive the profits, and do not see, the sufferings of their fellow creatures because the objects, as they actually exist, are not allowed to obtrude upon their vision, and interpose the reality of things between these Gentlemenâs consciences and their calculations:âIt is for these reasons that arguments such as we constantly hear, in favour of the continuance of the Slave Trade, are heard at all. If one thousandth part of the real horrors of this Traffick (I repeat it) were to be the subject of actual vision with these its defenders, none of their arguments, I am confident, would be urged againâ. (From the present work, pp. 37-38). The eventual passing of the 1807-act led to jubilant celebrations in Britain and by the enslaved workers in the West Indies.‎

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