Förmoderna seminariet: Gunvor Simonsen
Fugitive Friction in the Lesser Antilles
This presentation examines the reception of An Act to Amend and Consolidate the Laws relating to the Abolition of the Slave Trade of 1824 in the Lesser Antilles in the 1820s. The Act prohibited the return of foreign fugitive enslaved people who landed on the shores of British colonies after January 1, 1825. While An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade of 1807 aimed at the Atlantic scale of inter-continental slave trading, the Consolidated Act, repeating again and again the dilemmas of maintaining slavery in an island world and appears to have been tailored to the archipelagic world of the Caribbean. The Consolidated Act included fugitives in the apprenticeship schemes designed for so-called ‘liberated’ Africans in the 1807 Act. Yet elites across the islands of the British Caribbean were critical of the 1824 Act They believed it to be an attack on universal property rights and on the neighborly relations that had shaped inter-island everyday slave owning in the archipelago. While the British Empire could declare slavery illegal in all land not under its sovereignty, British Antillean elites knew this to be an illusion. Archipelagic living depended on inter-island relations, and these were at stake when common conventions of capture and extradition were removed.