Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Salvucci reviews Draper, "The Price of Emancipation"

Via H-Law, we have a review of Nicholas Draper, The Price of Emancipation: Slave-Ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Here's an excerpt of the review, written by Richard J. Salvucci (Trinity University) for H-LatAm:
Draper has written an outstandingly good and important work. The bibliography and appendices alone run to over 130 pages, but the core of his research consists of an exhaustive examination of over forty thousand cases of the Slave Compensation Commission, and its record of claims, counterclaims, accounts, and awards consequent to the British abolition of slavery in the West Indies in 1833. In Draper’s own words, “slave-owning in Britain was predominantly an Anglican, Tory phenomenon ... [but] transcended religious and political divisions ... and mutated across generations and sexes over time” (p. 165). They were a politically powerful group, well represented in Parliament, and politically diverse, even as to emancipation, if not as to compensation. 
While there is no question that the bulk of compensation paid to owners flowed to Jamaica and British Guiana, compensation from Trinidad “was not that far short of Barbados” (p. 153). Payments to large-scale rentier-owners were primarily concentrated in rural areas in the south and southwest of England and East Anglia, but significantly “many rentier awards involved more individuals than equivalent mercantile awards.” In an arresting observation, Draper concludes that “slave-owning ... was not as common in absolute terms as investing in government securities, but was at least as widespread in proportion to the size of the capital involved” (p. 167).
Read on here.