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        Asian Indentured Labor in the Age of African American Emancipation
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This article examines transnational connections between African American emancipation in the United States and Chinese and Indian indenture within the British Empire. In an era of social upheaval and capitalist crisis, planters and colonial officials envisioned coolies as a source of uninterrupted plantation labor. This vision was often bound to the conditions of African American emancipation. In British Honduras, colonial officials sought to bring emancipated African Americans to the colony as labor for sugar plantations. When this project failed, interest turned toward indentured Chinese labor managed by white planters from the U.S. South. In India’s North-Western Provinces, the outbreak of famine came to be seen as a “kindred distress” to the crisis in Lancashire’s textile industry. Unemployed English factory workers were seen as suffering from famine due to the scarcity of slave-produced cotton, just as colonial subjects suffered from scarcity of food. While some weavers in the North-Western Provinces were taken into the coolie trade, the emigration of unemployed Lancashire weavers was looked to as a possible alternative to indenture. Drawing upon archives in Australia, Belize, Britain, India, and the United States, this article explores connections between seemingly disparate histories. By focusing upon their interrelation, this article locates the formation of crisis not in raw materials, but rather within a transnational struggle over racialized labor exploitation, or what W.E.B. Du Bois called the “dark and vast sea of human labor.”

In Black Reconstruction, W.E.B. Du Bois historicized the emergence of a “dark and vast sea of human labor” during the era of African American emancipation. This sea connected China, India, the Pacific Islands, Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, and the United States. It was conditioned by the emergence of a new capitalist imperialism in which U.S. slavery had fundamentally transformed the global racial degradation of labor.Footnote 1 Du Bois enhanced the Marxist understanding of labor exploitation by centering race and colonialism in the constitution of this sea of human labor.

In this era, the “coolie question” emerged as a discourse over how racialized labor exploitation might be perpetuated even as slavery as a singular relation of dispossession was abolished. In Coolies and Cane, Moon-Ho Jung observed that contradictions between emancipation and imperialism created new migrations that brought black and Asian bodies together, first in planters’ imaginations and later on plantations.Footnote 2 If, as Jung argues, coolies were a “conglomeration of racial imaginings” rather than a specific people, coolie questions can be approached as the set of discourse and practices about the role of the coolie across diverse racial, colonial, and economic spaces in crisis.Footnote 3

While Coolies and Cane focuses on the relationship between African American emancipation and Chinese indentured labor on sugar plantations in the U.S. South, this article examines manifestations of the coolie question during the same period, the American Civil War and its aftermath, but also across the British Empire. African American emancipation and coolie questions came together across diverse colonial terrain from Queensland, Australia, and India's North-Western Provinces to the Central American colony of British Honduras. Through the coolie question, factory owners, colonial officials, and settlers debated how Asian indentured labor might ameliorate economic and colonial disruptions connected to African American emancipation and provide plantations with “cheap” labor.Footnote 4

In pursuing contours of the coolie question in relation to the Civil War and African American emancipation, this article is neither seamless nor comprehensive. Instead, through multisited archival research, it seeks to capture some of the choppiness in the making of the dark sea Du Bois described, bringing seemingly isolated plantation practices and discrete discourses together and pursuing their connections. This article examines especially how coolie questions emerged in racial and economic response to systemic transformations within capitalist and colonial relations. The coolie question was central to a transnational debate among white elites about racialized labor that ranged across the continents.

The Planter's Imagination

If such negroes [enslaved African Americans] could be had in our colonies, and would work as they do on the cotton plantation, I would rather have them at Englishmen's wages than any white men I ever saw; and I even doubt whether they would not be worth double the value of a white labourer … I have passed a portion of my life in India, where we have another description of cheap labour … but how many of these coolies can we estimate as being equal to one trained negro?

Leonard Wray (1858)Footnote 5

Methods for organizing and understanding coolie and enslaved labor moved between the British Empire and the American South before the Civil War. While U.S. settler slavery was different from colonial agrarian relations across the British Empire, this did not prevent agriculture and plantation management ideas, techniques, or personnel from moving between the United States and the British Empire.Footnote 6 British colonial observers traveled throughout the American South, seeking to gain insight about the particularities of enslavement and plantation relations. White southerners involved in the plantation economy travelled throughout the British Empire, to Egypt, India, British Honduras, and beyond, to inform agricultural practices.Footnote 7

Before the Civil War, U.S. settler slavery and the organization of British colonial labor relations were consistently compared, often placing imaginations of indentured, slave, and wage labor together. While abolitionists argued that U.S. slavery was a unique form of violence and labor exploitation, U.S. planters consistently argued that “coolie slaves” and “white factory slaves” within the British Empire were more exploited than enslaved African Americans.Footnote 8 In 1859, the Virginia planter Edward Alfred Pollard advocated for the reopening of the African slave trade stating that he had seen the “hideous slavery of Asia” in the form of Chinese coolies.Footnote 9 At the same time, in 1857, a Virginia slave-owner could identify with the British Empire during the Indian Rebellion while colonial subjects such as the Bengali antiquarian Rajendralal Mitra could criticize indigo planters as “men whose like can be had only in the slave owners of Virginia.”Footnote 10

In 1857, Leonard Wray arrived in South Carolina from the British colony of Natal to work on the plantations of the statesman, slaveholder, and white supremacist, James Henry Hammond. Hammond invited Wray to introduce “imphee” cultivation, a type of sorghum meant to serve southern interests in agricultural diversification and lessen southern economic dependence upon cotton and slave trading.Footnote 11 Wray's connection to global plantation economies also made him uniquely positioned in the management of race as an expert in the interpretation of racial difference from coolie and Black to white and in attendant forms of exploitation—slavery, indenture, and wage labor.Footnote 12

Wray had become widely known as a plantation expert following the publication of his manual The Practical Sugar Planter—a text circulated and serialized throughout the British Empire and the slaveholding South.Footnote 13 According to the southern agricultural journal De Bow's Review, Wray's The Practical Sugar Planter was an “invaluable guide.”Footnote 14 Wray began his career as a plantation manager on Jamaican slave plantations, which he managed for ten years. Following emancipation within the British Empire, he was one of several planters who moved to British India where he managed a large North Indian sugar estate at Gorakhpur for three years.Footnote 15 He would go on to manage a plantation in the Straits Settlements before traveling to Natal in the 1850's.Footnote 16

At Hammond's Silver Bluff plantation, Wray superintended enslaved African Americans laboring in fields.Footnote 17 During dinners, Wray, Hammond, and other prominent white elites discussed the future of plantations and white supremacy. During one conversation, Hammond and Wray were joined by Edmund Ruffin whose Farmers’ Register had earlier been foundational to proslavery agricultural and management thought.Footnote 18 Conversation turned to labor exploitation, managing race, and Jamaican plantation decline. The discussion was anchored by comparisons between coolie and African American labor.Footnote 19 Wray stated his belief in the superiority of Chinese indentured labor considered under the “general, but incorrect, name of ‘Coolies.’” Ruffin and Hammond emphasized coolie “mistreatment.”Footnote 20 For U.S. planters, arguments about the continued presence of Chinese or coolie labor on plantations seemed to offer legitimation of U.S. slaveholding paternalism while demonstrating the centrality of racial coercion for plantations after emancipation.Footnote 21

Wray's observations about slavery on Hammond's plantation informed a subsequent presentation before Britain's Royal Society of Arts in 1858. During the presentation, Wray addressed differences between slavery and British colonial agriculture, imagining racial differences in productive capacities between coolie, “Negro,” and white plantation labor. According to Wray, the difference between the “cheap labour” of South Asian coolies and “Negroes” was “enormous.”Footnote 22 Enslaved African Americans represented the “most skilled description” of labor for cotton cultivation and Hammond's management brought this labor to a “pitch of perfection.” White men could never match Black labor on plantations. For Wray, these differences made it necessary to develop a system of labor management that would be homologous to slavery, different because the English would never “resort to the whip.” Wray claimed that planters’ management of enslaved labor presented a challenge to make comparable forms of labor exploitation without direct and violent coercion. Throughout the age of African American emancipation, the emphasis often fell upon the former while forgetting the latter.Footnote 23

Human Surplus in Lancashire and India's North-Western Provinces

In conclusion, it is curious to reflect that the fratricidal war in America should have made itself felt even in the peaceful wilds of Oude, where the Native weaver suffers, in the matter of English thread, with his English fellow-laborer. While in the case of the former he has to contend with a diminished demand for Native cotton cloth in addition to the rise in price of the raw material.

Bengal Chamber of Commerce (1864)Footnote 24

On the eve of the Civil War, the India reform advocate Dadabhai Naoroji explained to a gathering of Lancashire factory owners that Lancashire's factories fundamentally depended upon U.S. slavery. Naoroji elided Britain's enslaving history while arguing that the factory's dependence upon American slavery weakened a morally righteous, liberal empire. As Naoroji stated, “look at the spectacle of men, who emancipated slaves, becoming the slaves to slaves; for what are we more than mere slaves to those very slaves when we depend upon them? A single disease among them,—a single revolution among them,—is enough to strike us all down here as effectually as they themselves and their oppressors.”Footnote 25 The American Civil War would seem to have presented exactly such a revolution, yet it did not “strike down” factory owners in the way Naoroji imagined. Instead, it was part of a global crisis in textile production and consumption that further stretched from Lancashire to North India.

Crisis in the Lancashire textile industry was characterized by disruptions in the availability of cotton from the American South following the blockade of Confederate ports as well as disruptions in the purchase of manufactured goods in colonial markets, especially India's North-Western Provinces following the outbreak of extreme famine in 1860.Footnote 26 While some Lancashire factory owners strove to ameliorate the Civil War's impact upon cotton supply through expanded cultivation in India's Berar Provinces and Queensland, Australia, these crises were also linked to discourse and practices of moving and controlling surplus populations from famine and economically devastated regions to areas of colonial and agricultural expansion.Footnote 27

In 1861, the Bengal Chamber of Commerce outlined the economic logic of connection between the North-Western Provinces and the outbreak of crisis in the Lancashire textile industry. From 1850 to 1860, the trade in Manchester goods in the North-Western Provinces had developed in “remarkable magnitude,” giving Manchester access to India's “immense consuming population” and enabling full employment in English manufacturing. During the period, the North-Western Provinces increasingly became regarded as the most important market for Manchester goods.Footnote 28 This progress continued uninterrupted until the Indian Rebellion (1857). Following the Rebellion, the textile industry revived with “unparalleled” trading until “a desolating famine in the populous districts of Hindostan paralysed the ordinary commerce of the country.”Footnote 29 In the final months of 1860, possibly as little as one half the expected quantity of Manchester goods were purchased in the North-Western Provinces.Footnote 30

One colonial official described that the selling of Manchester goods, and the Lancashire textile industry in general, was now tied to the purchasing trends of “people fleeing from starvation.”Footnote 31 The famine disproportionately impacted weavers who were especially vulnerable because of the encroachment of Manchester goods into the region.Footnote 32 Poetry reflected that during the famine Muslim handloom weavers (julaha) died first.Footnote 33

In response to the famine, julahas moved to Bombay and elsewhere. Some went on Hajj, while others emigrated abroad as indentured laborers.Footnote 34 During the 1860–61 season, over 31,000 laborers emigrated from Calcutta through the coolie trade. This was an unprecedentedly large number with many coming from the North-Western Provinces.Footnote 35 As Basdeo Mangru has argued, famine often “constituted the best recruiting agent” for the coolie trade.Footnote 36 Within imperial discourse, famines further provided ideological justifications for the coolie trade as an institution that improved life for the colonized poor.Footnote 37

Famine in the North-Western Provinces and the Lancashire Cotton Famine were rendered not only economically linked but also as “kindred distress.”Footnote 38 The transformation of these famines into kindred distress enabled relief funds gathered to support famine victims in the North-Western Provinces to be transferred to “distressed famine operatives” in Lancashire in 1863.Footnote 39 When the Bengal Chamber of Commerce declared that funds from Indian famine relief should be applied to relieve “kindred distress in the mother country,” the chamber elaborated on this connection stating that just as the people of India suffered from “a deficient supply of food,” Lancashire factory workers had been “deprived of that work which has hitherto enabled them to buy food.”Footnote 40 This language tied famine in the North-Western Provinces to crisis in the textile industry. In the process, death in India's North-Western Provinces and Lancashire working-class unemployment were made commensurable.

While connected, the Lancashire cotton famine and famine in India's North-Western Provinces were profoundly different. In 1860, Lancashire's textile industry employed 440,000 workers and soon nearly 25 percent would receive poor relief.Footnote 41 The “cotton famine” was an economic depression that caused unemployment and distress, but it was not a famine in the sense of mass starvation. In the North Indian famine, on the other hand, conservative contemporary estimates suggested that between 1.25 and 1.5 million were impacted by the famine while half a million received relief in some form.Footnote 42 Some estimates suggest that at least 200,000 people died during the famine, which lasted through October 1861.Footnote 43

In 1864, the Bengal chamber of commerce observed that weavers in the North-Western Provinces and Lancashire suffered together through increases in the price of thread brought about by African American emancipation and the American Civil War. This perspective brought forth the continued bind between weavers in Lancashire and the North-Western Provinces, highlighted especially by disrupted access to African American labor. In response to comparative descriptions of a shared condition of handloom weavers in England and North India, Dipesh Chakrabarty has argued that comparativist stances are problematic because they are based upon translating the specificity of life worlds.Footnote 44 From another perspective, the condition of weavers in North India and Lancashire (handloom and otherwise) were forced into connection through the logic of global capital, the circuit of Manchester goods, and the transfer of famine relief funds from the North-Western Provinces to Lancashire textile workers. While some North Indian weavers became caught up in the coolie trade, some Lancashire handloom weavers were made into settlers and removed to Queensland in a struggle to prevent the “importation” of coolies to the colony.

Settling Labor in Queensland

Emigration was envisioned as a fix to the textile industry crisis and was also an outcome of distress caused by famines in India's North-Western Provinces. British factory owners and aspiring Queensland planters debated how the proper movement and distribution of labor could address overpopulation, underconsumption, and overproduction across the empire. Political economists argued that settler colonies relieved population pressure, created new fields for capital, and generated new markets for British goods.Footnote 45 Of the balance, John Stuart Mill wrote that the “first object” of the settler colonies was to relieve British surplus populations.Footnote 46 The debates surrounding this fix were characterized by extensive concern with the racial content of settler colonization.

The particular linkage between settler colonization, economic crisis, and unemployment was put forth by Henry Parkes, an advocate for emigration to the Australian colony of New South Wales. Parkes described his hometown of Coventry where “poor ribbon-weavers are down at starvation point and in Lancashire, it is to be feared, many will. What a perversity in the management of the world that their labour cannot be transferred to where it is so much wanted—Australia!”Footnote 47 In the newly established colony of Queensland (formed in 1859), interest in encouraging Lancashire workers’ emigration was even more pronounced. Queensland's emigration official, Henry Jordan, engaged in sustained efforts to encourage the emigration of unemployed Lancashire textile workers through assisted passages and land grants, eventuating the emigration of more than 1,200 unemployed textile workers, married couples, and children who received assisted passages. The first settlers from this project arrived in Queensland in 1863. This interest formed against efforts to bring Asian indentured workers to the colony and was informed by discourse over slavery in the United States.

Queensland's frontier was one of the most violent sites in the global expansion of nineteenth-century capitalism.Footnote 48 In 1859, Queensland comprised roughly 30,000 settlers and possibly more than 100,000 aboriginal people.Footnote 49 Unlike New South Wales and Victoria, where the British invasion began in the eighteenth century, rapid colonization in Queensland did not take place until the mid-nineteenth century. Settlement in Queensland was predicated on an already well-established belief in white settlers’ replacement of Aboriginal people that was supported by settlements in New South Wales, Tasmania, and knowledge about demographic disaster in the Americas.Footnote 50

It is within this context that settler investment in the transformation of Queensland into a white man's country through the immigration of unemployed Lancashire textile workers emerged. This investment was based upon a belief that white farmers growing cotton would be more productive than hired labor in general and more efficient than South Asian and Chinese labor in particular.Footnote 51 White proprietors would further be invested in the land and the colonial project itself. Because distressed textile workers paid taxes to support empire, they were particularly entitled to assisted access to newly colonized land, some argued.Footnote 52

In the settler press, anonymous authors frequently opposed coolies and supported the emigration of white labor to Queensland. Desires to create a racially homogeneous white settler colony often cohabitated with antiblack racism. A “Lancashire Man” wrote to Jordan that all Lancashire workers willing to grow cotton should be sent to Queensland, “… [L]et them come in thousands, and soon the manufacturing districts of England will be independent of Jonathan and his niggers for ever.”Footnote 53 “Anglo-Saxon” drew upon the U.S. rhetoric of free soil, stating that all Queensland needed was “free land, free labour and freeholders.”Footnote 54 This was a claim for white labor against coolies: “Equity to the American slave hardly means iniquity to Queensland, an American nigger is bad enough, but why create Queensland niggers?”Footnote 55 In such instances, the history and present of antiblack racism in the United States were used in opposition to Indian and Chinese presence in Queensland.

Opponents of the coolie trade drew upon U.S. slavery to refine arguments in opposition to coolies and in favor of making Queensland into a white man's country. This was part of a broader process that carried on past the Civil War, when identification with white Americans enabled many English and Australians to think about themselves as white men.Footnote 56 In Queensland: The Field for British Labor (1863), John Dunmore Lang, who was actively involved in the promotion of British emigration to Queensland, suggested that the United States suffered from “unspeakable evils” because of the introduction of an “inferior and degraded race, in the form of negro slaves from Africa.” He warned that this could be repeated in the event of mass “importation of coolies from India.”Footnote 57 Factory owners such as Thomas Bazley were criticized for their desire to introduce “a million Chinamen with their wives and children” to Queensland. These coolies would “produce just the same deteriorating effects upon the free white population here as the presence of the slaves of the Southern States have produced upon the free white population there.”Footnote 58 The presence of Chinese women and children presented the possibility of colonial racial degradation, while the presence of white women and children was presented as providing future racial and economic stability.Footnote 59

Opposition to coolies was at times expressed with particular hatred towards the possible arrival of Chinese workers in the colony.Footnote 60 This opposition developed, in part, as a racial response to Chinese presence in the Australian colonies of New South Wales and Victoria.Footnote 61 If the coolie trope was not commonly deployed in Victoria until the 1880s, opponents in Queensland looked at Chinese presence in Australia's other colonies to argue against Chinese immigration and to state preferences for South Asian immigration should indentured laborers be brought to the colony.Footnote 62

Against opposition, planters, colonial administrators, and Manchester manufacturers argued that a plantation economy characterized by nonwhite labor would elevate the position of the white settler.Footnote 63 Colonial administrators including the first governor of Queensland, George Bowen, and the first premier, Robert Herbert, put such arguments forth repeatedly.Footnote 64 According to Bowen, “the employment of Chinese or [Indian] coolies would be to Queensland what machinery has been to England.” He believed this reflected manufacturers’ general opinion.Footnote 65

Debates over the colonization of Queensland at times focused upon settler colonialism in the American South. Analogies with land colonization declared that fortunes could be made through selecting land for cotton, rice, and sugar cultivation in Queensland just as had been realized by those who “knew how to select lands judiciously in the Southern States of America.”Footnote 66 This was a vision of land rush inextricably bound to indigenous dispossession. Comparisons between African American and Aboriginal people were put forth to make claims about the racial inferiority of both.Footnote 67 Yet, as Tracey Banivanua-Mar has suggested, it was inconsistent with settler colonialism to openly demand a plantation economy based upon Aboriginal labor.Footnote 68

While British factory owners stated their preference for the settlement of unemployed factory workers in Queensland rather than the United States, in general, factory owners opposed their emigration and colonization through assisted programs. According to Jordan, after dispatching the first one thousand Lancashire workers to Queensland, Manchester factory owners worked to subvert his efforts, first through open hostilities and then by encouraging handloom weaver emigration. To Jordan, such workers were the “most useless of the unemployed.”Footnote 69 In an editorial later referred to as a manufacturers’ manifesto, Edmund Potter wrote that the factory master could not willingly watch “his” labor supply be removed through assisted emigration.Footnote 70 Though Potter believed that, in the future, emigrating artisans farming on “virgin soil” would provide the textile industry with its best customers and work as civilizational pioneers, he also believed that factory workers could not be encouraged to emigrate.Footnote 71 Instead, factory owners such as Bazley advocated for the introduction of coolies into Queensland.

For planting interests, investment in coolies was part of a broader project for determining what form of racialized labor would enable the colonization and transformation of Queensland into a plantation society. The Cotton Supply Reporter described this approach clinically: “A resident of Sydney, about to experiment on a cotton plantation in Queensland, has engaged a number of negroes, [Indian] coolies, and Chinese labourers in order to test the several capabilities of the three races.”Footnote 72 Although it is unlikely that such an experiment occurred, the very idea of bringing labor together and comparing racialized laboring capacities revealed investment in race management strategies with roots in the United States.Footnote 73

The planter and coolie trader Robert Towns was centrally involved in transforming the racially imagined relationship between coolies, Lancashire workers, and the colonization of Queensland. Towns argued that it would be “unjust” to force “Anglo-Saxons” to work under a tropical sun.Footnote 74 In 1861, Towns, along with a group of other planters, looked instead toward indentured labor from India, suggesting that this labor would allow Queensland to compete immediately with sugar from Mauritius, Java, and Manila and ultimately with U.S. cotton.Footnote 75

In principle, arrangements for South Asian emigration to Queensland were made following the passage of the Indian Coolie Act of 1862.Footnote 76 Towns stated he had sent a ship to Madras and Calcutta for coolies but failed due to opposition from the Indian government. Towns believed this effort may have failed because the Indian government was resistant to competition in cotton cultivation.Footnote 77 In 1863, Towns turned toward acquiring Pacific Island labor, explaining this turn through coolies, white suffering, and black freedom. According to Towns, his interest in growing cotton was meant to supply “suffering” Lancashire workers with cotton:

… I think I deserve the thanks of the community for the introduction of that kind of labor which is suited to our wants, and which may save us from the inhumanity of driving to the exposed labor of field work, the less tropically hardy European women and children, for I suppose the most thorough advocate of European labor will admit, that in cotton clearing and picking they, as well as the men, must take part in the labor.Footnote 78

In his initial effort to secure Pacific Island labor, he told his recruiting agent that he preferred young labor, between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, and described himself as a “kind master.”Footnote 79 Towns’ efforts to create cotton plantations based upon Pacific Island labor largely failed. Yet, Towns and other planting interests soon drew upon Pacific Island labor for the rapidly growing sugar economy. Approximately 60,000 Pacific Island laborers would be brought to Queensland in subsequent years to cultivate sugar. By the early 1870s, Henry Jordan had become involved in sugar cultivation, operating an estate based exclusively upon white labor. However, Jordan was an exception to a plantation economy increasingly anchored in dependency upon Pacific Island labor.Footnote 80 The coolie question continued in new ways: While plantations would eventually also employ Chinese labor displaced from the gold fields of New South Wales and Victoria, Pacific Island laborers would be described as both “South Sea Island coolies” and as slaves.Footnote 81 Efforts to introduce cotton cultivated by unemployed Lancashire workers or by South Asian or Chinese laborers failed. Yet the project to racially organize Queensland's settler economy was part of the continuing significance of race after African American emancipation.

Subverting the Coolie Question in British Honduras

In Queensland, struggles over racialized labor formed in relation to coolie questions in an effort to stabilize an economy and empire in crisis. In the Central American colony of British Honduras, landholding companies sought to transform the colony's economic base from mahogany woodcutting to sugar plantations through African American or Chinese labor.Footnote 82 A sugar plantation economy was also intended to secure British settlement against periodic military challenges presented by the Maya in the colony's northern and western territories.Footnote 83 In Queensland, the possibility of introducing emancipated African Americans en masse was sporadically entertained but rarely taken seriously.Footnote 84 In British Honduras, landholding companies and the colonial state worked extensively from 1862 through 1863 to bring emancipated African Americans from the United States to the colony. This built upon Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet's interest in the removal of blacks from the United States through colonization.

When this failed, landholding companies sought coolies to provide the future laboring base of the colony. A single ship arrived in the colony on July 4, 1865, with 474 Chinese laborers from Xiamen (Amoy).Footnote 85 Upon the arrival of the ship, colonial officials and planters imagined that they had secured “docile” coolies who would ensure the productive future of the colony.Footnote 86 Chinese laborers repeatedly challenged this vision of docile coolies through work stoppages and by abandoning plantations. At the same time, Chinese laborers’ families disrupted the normal operation of the immigration office in Xiamen. Both planters and the colonial state acted with racial violence against Chinese workers, especially once their project to build a plantation economy based upon their labor began to fail.

Interest in black or coolie labor intensified following the consolidation of landownership under the British Honduras Company and Young, Toledo, and Company. Together the two companies owned over two-fifths of the colony.Footnote 87 The passage of an immigration act in 1861 offered principles for the introduction of indentured labor to British Honduras, specifying South Asian, African, and Chinese labor. Because indentured South Asians were entitled to compensated return passages while Chinese laborers were not, planting interests especially focused upon Chinese labor.Footnote 88 John Hodge, a representative for the British Honduras Company, opposed reliance upon Mayan workers, arguing that planters required Chinese labor because “the Indians from Yucatan have not the necessary intelligence.”Footnote 89

Early interest in Chinese indentured labor shifted toward freedpeople in the United States from 1862 to 1863. Hodge was centrally involved in efforts to first bring freedpeople and later Chinese laborers and white former slaveholders to the colony. As Phillip Magness and Sebastian Page describe in Colonization after Emancipation, Hodge met Abraham Lincoln and members of his cabinet and also traveled to a Virginia contraband camp in an effort to bring emancipated African Americans to the colony.Footnote 90

In July 1863, Hodge brought the Narragansett abolitionist Charles Babcock and John Willis Menard, a black advocate for colonization, to British Honduras. After surveying the colony, Babcock concluded that African Americans might succeed in British Honduras “as pioneers” while Menard thought the colony might provide a “permanent home and nationality.”Footnote 91 The British Honduras Company, however, was not interested in the capacity of freedpeople as freehold farming settlers but rather as laborers. Hodge imagined the position of freedpeople as interchangeable with coolies. According to Hodge, the outbreak of the American Civil War caused the British Honduras Company to “abandon” efforts to obtain “coolies in the East Indies and China, for the cultivation of their extensive estates and to rely chiefly upon obtaining the hired labour of those who had been slaves in the country known as emancipated contraband, or freedmen.”Footnote 92 The U.S. Consul at Belize declared that neither the colonial government nor landholding companies had any interest in parceling out land to freedpeople and instead sought emancipated African Americans to “labor, labor, labor.”Footnote 93

The project to bring emancipated African Americans to the colony failed especially because of general opposition among freedpeople to colonization efforts.Footnote 94 One observer noted that “nothing short of compulsion” would induce black emigration.Footnote 95 Black enlistment in the Union army also curbed interest in colonization.Footnote 96 As the abolitionist Liberator wrote following Babcock and Menard's visit, black military enlistment would check emigration because freedpeople were “disposed to remain at home, and see what the future may bring forth.”Footnote 97 Freedpeople sought to maintain and reconstitute families in the United States. Further, black women strove to minimize participation in field labor, defying the principles of profit upon which the British Honduras Company's interests rested.Footnote 98

The arrival of Chinese workers in British Honduras in July 1865 resulted in a transnational dispute over wage withholdings arranged by laborers and meant for family members in Xiamen. Tsai La, Ya, Huang Lui, and many others sent letters to their families explaining their condition, asking if parents had received allotments as promised.Footnote 99 Many had not. In April, Robert Swinhoe, consul at Xiamen, wrote that a large number of “elderly” women had gathered at his office to protest the nonpayment of monthly allotments due to them.Footnote 100 Emigration officials claimed, among other things, that Chinese workers in British Honduras wanted to discontinue withholdings after arriving in the colony. However, in Xiamen, the gathered women stated it was impossible that their family members who left for British Honduras would “break faith” and “cast them off” without writing letters. The gathered women were convinced the emigration office had invented a story “to swindle them out of their rightful due.”Footnote 101 Allotment discontinuations caused broad distress among families whose relations reached from China to British Honduras and resulted in protests in Xiamen.Footnote 102

In British Honduras, Chinese laborers worked clearing land for plantations and cultivating sugarcane. Labor management was characterized by neglect, abuse, and systematic dehumanization. Chinese laborers struggled against all of these violences.

Aguacate, the largest plantation with 151 Chinese laborers, was a site of violent confrontation between laborers and the estate's plantation manager. An observer described the manager's hatred for Chinese laborers: “Beginning by hating the Chinese before he saw them, his hatred has been gradually on the increase until, it has now become a monomania.”Footnote 103 Chinese workers died from this monomaniacal hatred. On April 4, 1866, the doctor at the estate requested blankets for a laborer denoted only as No. 362. The manager denied these requests and shortly after the laborer died. Another Chinese laborer, No. 338, died from a debility that the doctor believed required only brandy and a blanket.Footnote 104 The doctor who reported on these deaths was characterized by his own hatred of Chinese laborers, describing the death of two from ulcers caused by parasitic jiggers as the result of “their own laziness and filth.”Footnote 105 By the end of the year, the situation of Chinese laborers had become so extreme that they had to be sent to another estate on the Sittee River.

In response to conditions of neglect and violence, Chinese laborers abandoned estates.Footnote 106 Nearly one hundred Chinese indentured laborers left one estate and worked with the Santa Cruz Maya who were participating in their own struggles against the colonial state as well as fighting in the ongoing Guerra de Castas. The Santa Cruz Maya and Chinese laborers formed a cross racial connection founded out of circumstances and necessity that undercut the vision of the colonial state and planters. When an official sought the return of Chinese laborers, he was told, “The Chinese, the [Santa Cruz Maya] Chiefs say, are Indians like themselves.”Footnote 107 The Santa Cruz ordered that Chinese workers be “well treated and taught to work, and to be distributed among Maya officers for that purpose.”Footnote 108 Yet, Chinese laborers’ relationships with the Santa Cruz were not absent of violence. Bel Cen, a Santa Cruz leader who the laborers fled to, was purported to have shot a laborer who left his rancho without permission. Three others also allegedly died with the Santa Cruz.

In response to difficulties in colonizing land and managing labor, the British Honduras Company's attention turned toward war-hardened ex-Confederate planters from the American South following their loss of the American Civil War. As Hodge wrote, “the importation of energetic Americans accustomed to arms” would provide an example of “self-reliance in securing safety to life and property within the Colony.”Footnote 109 Hundreds of white southerners arrived in the colony, seeking to remake themselves as settlers and planters.Footnote 110 One such U.S. planter was Samuel McCutchon, who managed Chinese labor at the Regalia estate. At least five Chinese laborers died under McCutchon's supervision and one laborer, So Tsing Whan, was murdered by an overseer.Footnote 111

So Tsing Whan's murder reveals how the work-based struggles of Chinese laborers were met with extreme violence. On April 16, 1868, McCutchon sent ten Chinese laborers to clear land for a neighbor.Footnote 112 Following a work stoppage, McCutchon sent Regalia's overseer George Hyde to take control of the situation. Whan was identified as the leader of the work stoppage and after an encounter with Hyde, Whan drowned in a nearby river. Fellow workers brought Whan from the river, taking his body to their quarters at the Regalia estate. When police arrived at Regalia and demanded that they remove the body, the men refused.Footnote 113 According to reports, the laborers wanted to kill Hyde for committing murder, and the police spent the night at Regalia to quell possible disruptions. An inquest held the next day declared Whan's death a “voluntary drowning.” In response, laborers refused to return to work. To break down this work stoppage, several striking laborers were taken, imprisoned, and forced to two weeks’ hard labor.Footnote 114 Chinese laborers repeatedly refused to accept the “docile” role colonial officials and the British Honduras Company imagined for them. The transformation of British Honduras into a plantation economy based upon Chinese labor failed not least because of these refusals.


Scholars from Sabyasachi Bhattacharya to Sekhar Bandyopadhyay have noted that the American Civil War's transformation of Indian cotton cultivation was a “temporary phenomenon” without lasting impact.Footnote 115 From one perspective, the interaction between the coolie question and Black emancipation may have seemed similarly temporary in Queensland, the North-Western Provinces, and British Honduras. Yet, as was especially the case in Queensland and British Honduras, the relationship between black emancipation and the coolie question indexed Du Bois's observations that U.S. settler slavery made an unbreakable linkage between race and extreme violence within colonial and capitalist relations, a linkage that extended beyond African American emancipation.

In the North-Western Provinces, the Coolie-nama (1866), or coolie treatise, emerged as part of this reshaping colonial world. Written in Hindi by M. Kempson, a colonial official in the North-Western Provinces, the Coolie-nama was distributed throughout the region with the self-avowed purpose to counteract the “misinformation” given by “evil people” who sought to prevent individuals from gaining the full benefits of becoming coolies and travelling to settler colonies.Footnote 116 It presented information necessary to move coolies across the British Empire from Natal to Mauritius to Trinidad. The Coolie-nama was also an attempt to combat decreased immigration.Footnote 117 The number of laborers sent from Calcutta decreased markedly every year following the 1860–61 famine year, and the year before the publication of the Coolie-nama only 6,145 laborers were sent from Calcutta.

Beyond its self-avowed purpose, the Coolie-nama was the product and vision of a logic of colonial repopulation and global demographic shifts. The Coolie-nama described South African Zulus and indigenous Guyanese as jungli log, or wild and uncivilized people, inadequate for the tasks of plantation labor and the agricultural demands of the British Empire. Instead, the Coolie-nama explained that coolies who moved to British Guyana, Trinidad, and Natal would perform labor from growing cotton to cultivating tobacco. The condition of the coolie was free from exploitation in the Coolie-nama. The text presents the new life that emigrating workers would experience by becoming coolies in other colonies with adequate food, wages, and shelter.Footnote 118

The vision of the Coolie-nama, of coolies moving across the British Empire providing cheap labor free from exploitation while facilitating indigenous dispossession, was part of a broader cynical white imagination of free labor after the abolition of slavery. This imagination put forth an impossible demand for postslavery societies, for everything to be the same yet characterized by free instead of enslaved labor. This was present in the lament of a former Louisiana slaveholder in 1866 to a visiting British colonial official from India. As the planter stated, he respected black freedom but could not understand why freedpeople “had got the impression that they were no longer to ‘work like slaves.’”Footnote 119 It was also present in the Chelsea M.P. Charles Wentworth Dilke's Greater Britain which described global travels including trips to Virginia and Queensland. For Dilke, African American emancipation was a matter of “political, ethnological, historic” importance that challenged Anglo-Saxon white supremacy.Footnote 120 In the United States, African Americans would either “work or starve” in a new society that whites could create through the mass importation of coolie, Pacific Island, or European labor.Footnote 121 Former U.S. slave owners also put forth such arguments seeking at times to transform the American South into a “white man's country,” even drawing insight from Henry Jordan's efforts in Queensland while also opposing the introduction of coolies.Footnote 122 Such thinking, if profoundly different, enacted turns toward coolie questions and was foundational to a world that Du Bois recognized as painfully emerging in this era, one where the United States’ logic of violent territorial conquest and racialized labor subordination in the service of capital continued and expanded rather than disappeared.


1. Bois, W.E.B. Du, Black Reconstruction in America (New York, 1935), 1516 . For works that elaborate on this insight, see Lowe, Lisa, Intimacies of Four Continents (Durham, NC, 2015); Jung, Moon-Ho, “Black Reconstruction and Empire”, South Atlantic Quarterly 111 (2013): 465–71; Greene, Julie, “The Wages of Empire: Capitalism, Expansionism, and Working-Class Formation”, in Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialism, ed. Bender, Daniel E. and Lipman, Jana K. (New York, 2015), 3558 .

2. Jung, Moon-Ho, Coolies and Cane: Race, Labor, and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation (Baltimore, 2006), 109 .

3. Ibid., 5.

4. Metcalf, Thomas, Imperial Connections: India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860–1920 (Berkeley, CA, 2007), 136. On racial reading of Asian labor as “cheap,” see Day, Iyko, Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism (Durham, NC, 2016), 78 . For overviews of labor transformations in the context of black emancipation, see Jaynes, Gerald, Branches without Roots: Genesis of the Black Working Class in the American South (Oxford, 1986), 374 ; Foner, Eric, “Reconstruction and the Crisis of Free Labor”, in Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War (Oxford, 1980), 119–57.

5. Wray, Leonard, “The Culture and Preparation of Cotton in the United States of America”, Journal of the Society of Arts, 7 (1858): 83 .

6. Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth and Genovese, Eugene D., Slavery in White and Black: Class and Race in the Southern Slaveholders’ New World Order (Cambridge, 2008), 97152 .

7. Hall, Catherine, “Going A-Trolloping: Imperial Man Travels the Empire”, in Gender and Imperialism, ed. Midgley, Clare (Manchester, 1998), 180199 . Logan, Frenise A., “A British East India Company Agent in the United States, 1839–1840”, Agricultural History 48 (1974): 267–76. English factory owners such as Henry Ashworth also traveled to the U.S. South, making such comparisons. Ashworth, Henry, A Tour in the United States, Cuba and Canada (London, 1861), e.g., 101. Other British travelers who published about plantation relations in the American South include Captain Hall, Basil, Travels in North America in the Years 1827 and 1828, 3 vols. (Edinburgh, 1829). Mitchell, D.W., Ten Years in the United States: Being an Englishman's View of Men and Things in the North and South (London, 1862). Roles, John, Inside Views of Slavery on Southern Plantations (New York, 1864). Majoribanks, Erskine, Queensland: A Wide Field for the Safe and Profitable Investment of British Capital, More Particularly in the Growth of Cotton (Edinburgh, 1865), 7 .

8. Roediger, David, “White Slavery, Abolition, and Coalition: Languages of Race, Class, and Gender”, in Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past (Berkeley, CA, 2002), 108 . Rugemer, Edward, The Problem of Emancipation: The Caribbean Roots of the American Civil War (Baton Rouge, 2008), 25876 . Karp, Mathew, “King Cotton, Emperor Slavery: Antebellum Slaveholders and the World Economy”, in The Civil War as Global Conflict: Transnational Meanings of the American Civil War, ed. Gleeson, David T. and Lewis, Simon (Columbia, SC, 2014), 47 .

9. Pollard, Edward Alfred, Black Diamonds Gathered in the Darkey Homes of the South (New York, 1859), 9 .

10. Ruffin, Edmund, Diary of Edmund Ruffin: October 1856–April 1861, vol. 1, ed. Scarborough, William Kauffman (Baton Rouge, 1972), 97, 99. Sanyal, Ram Gopal, Reminiscences and Anecdotes, vol. 1 (Calcutta, 1894), 39 [quoted in Kling, Blair, The Blue Mutiny: The Indigo Disturbances in Bengal, 1859–62 (Philadelphia, 1966), 110 ].

11. Faust, Drew Gilpin, James Henry Hammond and the Old South: A Design for Mastery (Baton Rouge, 1985), 122–23. Olcott, H.S., “Sugar from the Sorgho”, Southern Cultivator 15 (1857): 142 . Wray first spoke in New York before working to introduce sorghum on the plantations of Hammond, of Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, and of a third planter in Georgia. “Sugar from the African Sorghum,” Charleston Mercury, April 14, 1857. “The New Sugar Cane,” Charleston Mercury, June 16, 1857.

12. On the management of racial difference, see Roediger, David and Esch, Elizabeth, The Production of Difference: Race and the Management of Labor in U.S. History (New York, 2012). Lowe, Lisa, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham, NC, 1996), 2728 .

13. Wray, Leonard, The Practical Sugar Planter; A Complete Account of the Cultivation and Manufacture of the Sugar-Cane (London, 1848).

14. Wray, Leonard, “Culture and Manufacture of Sugar”, De Bow's Review 12 (1852): 646 .

15. Amin, Shahid, Sugarcane and Sugar in Gorakhpur: An Inquiry into Peasant Production for Capitalist Enterprise in Colonial India (Delhi, 1984), 28 .

16. Proceedings of the Select Committee on Sugar and Coffee Planting, February 14, 1848 (London, 1848), 45 , 58–62, 72–74.

17. James Henry Hammond Papers, May 1, 1857, Reel 1, 606–607. Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations (RA-BSP). Series A, Part 1, Selections from the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina.

18. Mathew, W. M., “Edmund Ruffin and the Demise of the Farmers’ Register ”, The Virginia Magazine 94 (1986): 324 .

19. Ruffin, Diary, 74.

20. Wray, The Practical Sugar Planter, 83–84. Ruffin, Diary, 103–106, 147–48. The three would also meet at a gathering of the U.S. Agricultural Society in Washington, D.C., on January 15, 1858.

21. James Henry Hammond, Speech: Delivered at Barnwell Court House, South Carolina (October 29, 1858), 47. Jung, Coolies and Cane, 20, 28–30. Matthew Karp, “‘This Vast Southern Empire’: The South and the Foreign Policy of Slavery, 1833–1861” (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2011), 320–28.

22. Wray, “Culture and Preparation of Cotton,” 83.

23. Jaynes, Branches without Roots, 58.

24. P. Carnegy, “Appendix D: Official Papers Regarding Native Cotton Manufactures,” in Report of the Committee of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, January 24, 1864 (Calcutta, 1864), XLVIII. British Library, London (BL).

25. Dadabhai Naoroji, “The Supply of Cotton,” The Cotton Supply Reporter, February 1, 1861.

26. For emphasis upon raw material crisis, see Beckert, Sven, Empire of Cotton: A Global History (New York, 2014), 246 ; Perelman, Michael, Marx's Crises Theory: Scarcity, Labor, and Finance (New York, 1987), 4254 . For alternative approaches, see Henderson, William Otto, The Lancashire Cotton Famine (New York, 1969 [1934]), 1112 , especially, 11n1; Wright, Gavin, “World Demand for Cotton during the Nineteenth Century: Reply”, Journal of Economic History 39 (1979): 1024 . Wright, Gavin, The Political Economy of the Cotton South: Households, Markets, and Wealth in the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1978), 9697 . See also Marx, Karl, “A London Workers’ Meeting”, Marx and Engels Collected Works, 1861–64, vol. 19 (New York, 1984), 153 . First published in Die Presse February 2, 1862. Following a January 30, 1862, meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Marx revised his opinion to argue that the textile industry crisis was not the result of the blockade of southern ports or the American protectionist Morrill tariff, but rather “steadily continuing overproduction” since 1858, which corresponded with a “glutting of the Asian markets.” Karl Marx, “On the Cotton Crisis,” MECW, 19, 160–62. First published in Die Presse, February 8, 1862.

27. Factory owners who were members of the Cotton Supply Association were most prominent in these efforts. On the Central Provinces, see Satya, Laxman D., Cotton and Famine in Berar, 1850–1900 (Delhi, 1997), 139–42, 15861. Beckert, Empire of Cotton, 29397, 299302.

28. “Report on Deputation of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce to Viscount Palmerston,” February 22, 1864; March 9, 1864. Manchester Chamber of Commerce Proceedings, 18581867, Manchester Central Library (MCL). Fifty-First Annual Report of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce for the Year, 1871, January 29, 1872, 47 (MCL).

29. “Appendix M: Presentation of Testimonial to Colonel R. Baird Smith,” September 24, 1861, in The Committee of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce from 1 May to 31 October 1861 (Calcutta, 1861), LXXV (BL).

30. Smith, R. Baird, Report on Commercial Condition of the North West Provinces of India, (East India) Parliamentary Papers 29 (1862), 3 . On the impact of decreased exports to India for English manufacturers, see Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, February 27, 1861, Manchester Chamber of Commerce Proceedings, 1858–67 (MCL).

31. Baird Smith, Report on Commercial Condition, 11.

32. Footnote Ibid., 16. See also Borpujari, G., “Indian Cottons and the Cotton Famine, 1860–65”, The Indian Economic and Social History Review 10 (1973): 3749 .

33. Report of the Revised Land Revenue Settlement of the Rohtak District of the Hissar Division in the Punjab (Lahore, 1880), 4647 .

34. Circulars for Report on Slackness in Demand”, 189, 210. Gyanendra Pandey, The Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India (Delhi, 1990), 76 . See also Mukherjee, Rudrangshu, “The Azimgarh Proclamation and Some Questions on the Revolt of 1857 in the North Western Provinces”, in Essays in Honour of Prof. S.C. Sarkar (New Delhi, 1976), 477–98.

35. Basdeo Mangru, “From Bengal to British Guiana: The Emigration of Indian Indentured Labour, 1854-–884,” (Ph.D. diss., University of London, 1981), 87.

36. Footnote Ibid., 86. Metcalf, Imperial Connections, 154, 160.

37. Holmes, W.H., Free Cotton; How and Where to Grow It (London, 1862), 13 . This argument was common later: Grierson, G.A., Colonial Emigration from the Bengal Presidency, ed. Mangru, Basdeo (Hertford, 2014 [1883]), 45 .

38. Wood, H.W.I. to Bayley, E.C., “Appendix O: Lancashire Distress Relief Fund”, in Report of the Committee of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, July 15, 1862 (Calcutta, 1862), CCX (BL).

39. William A. Rose to governor general of India dated January 2, 1863. Home, Public, February 10, 1863, 27A. National Archives of India, Delhi (NAI). Translation of a Khurreeta from the Maha Rao Raja of Ulwar to the political agent, Ulwar, dated October 16, 1862. Foreign, Political A, December 1862, 8–10. NAI. “Distress in Lancashire: Appropriation of the Indian Famine Surplus Fund,” Observer, January 4, 1863. A Lancashire song described this transfer: “An’ th’ Indians are helpin’ an’ o; Aw reckon they're grateful for th’ past, So they'll give us a bit of a lift, For helpin’ them eawt when they'rn fast.” Laycock, Samuel, “God Bless ’Em, It Shows They'n Some Thowt”, in Lancashire Rhymes: Or, Homely Pictures of the People (Manchester, 1864), 5354 .

40. “Lancashire Distress Relief Fund,” Bengal Chamber of Commerce, CCX.

41. Oddy, D.J., “Urban Famine in Nineteenth-Century Britain: The Effects of the Lancashire Cotton Famine on Working-Class Diet and Health”, Economic History Review 36 (1983): 74 . Boyer, G.R., “Poor Relief, Informal Assistance, and Short Time During the Lancashire Cotton Famine”, Explorations in Economic History 34 (1997): 5676 . Arnold, The History of the Cotton Famine (London, 1864), 36 .

42. Smith, Baird, Report on the Famine of 1860–61, in the North-West Provinces of India, (East India) Parliamentary Papers 29 (1862): 30 .

43. Bhatia, B.M., Famines in India (Delhi, 1991), 60 . Dutt, R.C., Famines and Land Assessment in India (London, 1900), 8 . On the limits of such estimates, see Srivastava, Hari Shanker, The History of Indian Famines and Development of Famine Policy, 1858–1918 (Agra, 1968), 4647 .

44. Pandey, Construction of Communalism, 66–108. Chakrabarty, Dipesh, “Translating Life-Worlds into Labor and History”, in Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, 2000), 79 .

45. Ballantyne, Tony, “Remaking the Empire from Newgate: Wakefield's A Letter from Sydney”, in Ten Books that Shaped the British Empire, ed. Burton, Antoinette and Hofmeyr, Isabel (Durham, NC, 2014), 3233 .

46. J.S. Mill to F. Sinnett [Melbourne], October 22, 1857, in The Letters of John Stuart Mill, vol. 1, ed. Elliot, Hugh S. R. (London, 1910), 188–89.

47. Parkes, Henry, Australian Views of England: Eleven Letters Written in the Years 1861 and 1862 (London and Cambridge, 1869), 19 .

48. Evans, Raymond, “Plenty Shoot ’Em: The Destruction of Aboriginal Societies along the Queensland Frontier”, in Genocide and Settler Society: Frontier Violence and Stolen Indigenous Children in Australia, ed. Moses, D. (New York, 2004), 167–68.

49. Reynolds, Henry and May, Dawn, “Queensland”, in Contested Ground: Australian Aborigines under the British Crown, ed. Mcgrath, Ann (St. Leonards, NSW, 1995), 171 .

50. Footnote Ibid., 176.

51. Wight, George, Queensland: The Field for British Labour and Enterprise, and the Source of England's Cotton Supply (London, 1863), 101103 . See also Lancashire and Queensland Cooperative Emigration Society”, Daily News (London), January 24, 1863 .

52. Correspondence on the Cotton Famine, Showing how it Affects the Present Position and Future Prospects of the Common Interests (Manchester, 1865), 34 .

53. “The First Cotton Harvest in Queensland,” The York Herald, November 22, 1862.

54. “Anglo-Saxon,” “The Manchester Panic,” The Arthur Moreton Bay Courier, April 13, 1861.

56. Lake, Marilyn, “The White Man under Siege: New Histories of Race in the Nineteenth Century and the Advent of White Australia”, History Workshop Journal 58 (2004): 48 .

57. Lang, J.D., Queensland, Australia; A Highly Eligible Field for Emigration and the Future Cotton-Field of Great Britain, (London, 1861), 231 (from a speech delivered in 1860).

58. “The Coolie Question,” Moreton Bay Courier, April 16, 1861. Henry Jordan made this argument with particular reference to a suggestion that freed people be brought to Queensland: “An American Opinion on Queensland as a Cotton Producing Country Republished from Glasgow Morning Journal,” The Western Times (Exeter, England), April 21, 1863.

59. On the arrival of white women and children in the settler colonial imaginary, see Veracini, Lorenzo, Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview (Basingstoke, 2010), vii .

60. R.G.W. Herbert to J. Broadhurst, April 11, 1861. Extra Colonial Letterbooks, (61/90), Col/P1. Queensland State Archives, Brisbane. As Herbert wrote, “I should inform you that general acquaintance with the Chinese as servants and recent circumstances arising from their presence in large number in other Australian Colonies have induced the prevalent opinion that their introduction into this colony is not desirable, and it would not be looked upon with favour by the community; but that Indian Coolies would give more satisfaction where coloured labour is required.” However, Herbert personally believed that either Chinese or Indian labor should be sought for the colony. For this belief, see Knox, Bruce, “Introduction”, in The Queensland Years of Robert Herbert, Premier (St. Lucia, 1977), 28 .

61. Herbert to Broadhurst, April 11, 1861.

62. On the development of the anticoolie trope in Victoria, see Ngai, Mae, “Chinese Gold Miners and the ‘Chinese Question’ in Nineteenth-Century California and Victoria”, Journal of American History 101 (2015): 1084 .

63. On “suitability” of coolies, Moles, I.N., “The Indian Coolie Labour Issue in Queensland”, Historical Society of Queensland Journal 5 (1957): 1347. Charles Nicholson and others to His Excellency to Sir George F. Bowen Governor of the colony of Queensland, “Memorial on the Subject of Asiatic Labor,” in Asiatic Labor (Queensland, July 30, 1861). State Library of Queensland

64. Moles, “Indian Coolie Labour,” 1348.

65. On Bazley's interest in Queensland cotton: Thomas Bazley to Henry Parkes, October 2, 1861 in Parkes Correspondences, vol. 6, 395–96. State Library of New South Wales, Sydney.

66. De Coin, Robert, History and Cultivation of Cotton and Tobacco (London, 1864), 225 , 236–37.

67. Majoribanks, Queensland.

68. Banivanua-Mar, Tracey, Violence and Colonial Dialogue (Honolulu, 2007), 76 . For connections between settler colonialism in the United States and Australia, see Moreton-Robinson, Aileen, The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty (Minneapolis, 2015); Wolfe, Patrick, Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race (London, 2016), 184 .

69. Henry Jordan, Second Annual Report of the Queensland Emigration Commission, for 186263. Henry Jordan Papers. SLQ.

70. Potter, Edmund, “The Cotton Districts and Emigration”, Times (London), March 24, 1863. Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1 (London, 1976 [1867]), 720–23.

71. Potter, “Cotton Districts.”

72. Fifth Annual Report of the Cotton Supply Association (Manchester, 1862), 20 . John Rylands Library, Manchester.

73. Roediger, David and Esch, Elizabeth, “One Symptom of Originality: Race and the Management of Labour in the History of the United States”, Historical Materialism 17 (2009): 343 .

74. Louisiana planters used similar rhetoric: Jung, Coolies and Cane, 29–40.

75. Charles Nicholson and others to Bowen, George F., “Memorial on the Subject of Asiatic Labor”, in Asiatic Labor (Queensland, dated July 30, 1861). SLQ.

76. Disagreements between the Indian and Queensland governments were also cited. See I.N. Moles, “Indian Coolie Labour,” 1349–50.

77. Henderson, Lancashire Cotton Famine, 43. Towns, Robert, South Sea Island Immigration for Cotton Culture: A Letter to the Hon. The Colonial Secretary of Queensland (Sydney, 1863).

78. “South Sea Islanders (Importation of),” August 26, 1863, in Asiatic Labor. Dated July 30, 1861. Towns complained that English labor brought to the colony had not worked hard enough and demanded wages that were too high.

79. Robert Towns to Ross Lewin, May 29, 1863, Letters by Robert Towns, 1862–1873. Robert Towns and Co. Papers, CYReel2648, 191–96. NSW.

80. Fryar, William, “The Slave Trade in Polynesia”, Sugar Cane 5 (1873): 102 . Graves, Adrian, Cane and Labour: The Political Economy of the Queensland Sugar Industry (Edinburgh, 1993), 3538 .

81. Hope, James L.A., In Quest of Coolies (London, 1872), 3, 110.

82. Bolland, O. Nigel, The Formation of a Colonial Society: Belize, from Conquest to Crown Colony (Baltimore, 1977), 174–88. On mahogany, see Bulmer-Thomas, Barbara and Bulmer-Thomas, Victor, The Economic History of Belize: From the Seventeenth Century to Post-Independence (Benque Viejo del Carmen, 2012), 97 .

83. On Maya challenges to British Honduras during the period, see Bolland, O. Nigel, “The Maya and the Colonization of Belize in the Nineteenth Century”, in Bolland, O. Nigel, Colonialism and Resistance in Belize (Benque Viejo del Carmen, 1988), 100 .

84. Majoribanks, Queensland, 7.

85. The Light of the Age left carrying with 445 men, 14 women, 16 boys, 2 girls, and 3 infants.

86. Immigration agent to Governor Austin, July 4, 1865. 89R102-103. Belize Archives and Records Services, Belmopan (BARS).

87. Bulmer-Thomas and Bulmer-Thomas, Economic History of Belize, 97.

88. Robinson, St. John, “The Chinese of Central America: Diverse Beginnings, Common Achievements”, in The Chinese in Latin America and the Caribbean, ed. Lai, Walton Look and Chee-Beng, Tan (Leiden, 2010), 107108 .

89. John Hodge to F. Rogers, August 23, 1862, 80R233. BARS. Angel Eduardo Cal, “Anglo-Maya Contact in Northern Belize: A Study of British Policy toward the Maya During the Caste War of Yucatán, 1847–72” (master's thesis, University of Calgary, 1983), 223. The Maya Hodge is particularly addressing had sought refuge in the colony during the ongoing Guerra de Castas. See Bolland, “Maya and the Colonization of Belize,” 102.

90. Page, Sebastian and Magness, Phillip, Colonization after Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement (Columbia, MO, 2011).

91. Babcock, Charles, British Honduras: Central America, a Plain Statement to Colored People of the U.S. Who Contemplate Emigration (Salem, MA, 1863). John W. Menard to F. Seymour, August 3, 1863, 83R416 (BARS). Page and Magness, Colonization, 43–54.

92. John Hodge to Lord Lyons, July 9, 1863 (BARS). Hodge to Heriot, July 1, 1863, 85R300-01 (BARS).

93. Charles Leas to Frederick W. Seward, February 15, 1863, 9. Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Belize, 1847–1906, Reel 1, T-334. Clegern, Wayne M., British Honduras: Colonial Dead End, 1859–1900 (Baton Rouge, 1967), 1937 .

94. Moses, Wilson Jeremiah, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850–1925 (Hamden, 1978), 8689 . Forbes, Ella, “African-American Resistance to Colonization”, Journal of Black Studies 21 (1990): 210–23. Blight, David, Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee (Baton Rouge, 1989), 122–47.

95. “Chairman of the Board of Emigration to Sir F. Rogers Bart,” Berbice Gazette and British Guiana Advertiser, June 18, 1864.

96. “Emigration to Honduras,” Liberator, March 25, 1863. Fredrickson, George, Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race (Cambridge, 2008), 114 .

97. “Emigration to Honduras,” Liberator.

98. For example, William Stuart to Earl Russell, October 18, 1862. FO 5/934. National Archives, United Kingdom.

99. “‘Tsai La (217)’ to His Mother,” 89R466. “‘Ya (434)’ to His Parents,” 89R467. “‘Huang Lui (78)’ to His Mother,” 89R468-9. BARS.

100. Robert Swinhoe to T.D. Boyd (Chief Emigration Agent, Amoy), April 18, 1866, 94R79. BARS.

102. “Allotments Stopped or Unclaimed,” 89R261-62. BARS.

103. Dr. Gahue to J. Gardiner Austin, July 24, 1866, 89R407. BARS.

104. Gahue to Austin, July 30, 1866, 89R411-12. BARS.

105. Gahue to Hodge, January 5, 1866, 89R256. BARS.

106. Gahue to Austin, July 24, 1866, 89R407-8. J.R. Longden to J.P. Grant, October 23, 1868, 98R295. BARS.

107. Edwin Adolphus to Thomas Graham, October 4, 1866, 89R494. BARS.

109. John Hodge to J. Gardiner Austin, May 3, 1866. CO 123/121. (NAUK).

110. Simmons, Donald C. Jr., Confederate Settlements in British Honduras (Jefferson, NC, 2001).

111. Register of Deaths Occurring Amongst the Immigrants of British Honduras. 107R307. BARS. Samuel McCutchon Papers, Reel 6, 247. RA-BSP. Series I, Selections from Louisiana State University.

112. Sell, Zach, “Reconstructing Plantation Dominance in British Honduras: Race and Subjection after Emancipation”, in The Transnational Significance of the American Civil War, ed. Nagler, Jörg, Doyle, Don H., and Gräser, Marcus (Basingstoke, 2016), 238–39.

113. Samuel McCutchon Papers, 315–16.

115. Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi, The Financial Foundations of the British Raj: Ideas and Interests in the Reconstruction of Indian Public Finance, 1858–72 (Hyderabad, 2005), 251 . Bandyopadhyay, Sekhar, From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India (Delhi, 2004), 125–26.

116. Pitcher, D.G., “Report on the System of Recruiting Labourers for the Colonies, 1882”, in Kanpur to Kolkata: Labour Recruitment for the Sugar Colonies, ed. Mangru, Basdeo (Hertford, 2015), 4344 .

117. Basdeo Mangru, “From Bengal to British India,” 68–70.

118. Kempson, M., Coolie-nama (Allahabad, 1866) (BL).

119. G.F. Forbes, “Report on Cotton in the Southern States,” (1866). Archive of the Royal Geographical Society, London.

120. Dilke, Charles Wentworth, Greater Britain: A Record of Travel in English-Speaking Countries during 1866 and 1867 (London, 1868), 15 .

121. Footnote Ibid., 18.

122. Queensland (1865), (printed pamphlets), Box 31, 45. Thomas Affleck to Henry W. Hayman, November 22, 1865, Letterbook V. 14, Box 21. Papers of Thomas Affleck. Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collection, Louisiana State University Library, Baton Rouge.