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5 - Free Trade versus Free Labour

British India and the West Indies

from Part I - Mapping Humanitarianism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 September 2021

Zoë Laidlaw
Affiliation:
University of Melbourne
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Summary

This chapter investigates two episodes in which humanitarian objectives clashed with liberal economic orthodoxy. The British India Society broke away from the Aborigines’ Protection Society in 1839. It linked ‘Justice to India’ with ‘Prosperity to England’ and ‘Freedom’ to American slaves, but its supporters were divided over the first Opium War and its campaign was derailed by the decision to prioritize Corn Law repeal over Indian reform. The relationship between ‘free trade’ and ‘free labour’ was also a focus of the campaign waged by the West India Association, in which Dr Thomas Hodgkin was prominent, to maintain tariff protection for British West Indian sugar against that produced by slaves in Brazil and Cuba. The Association prioritized free colonial labour over free trade, even though a more ethical British stance would come at the expense of British workers. The chapter reveals tensions between London and the British provinces, and within liberal imperial policy, as well as contradictions within humanitarian circles.

Type
Chapter
Information
Protecting the Empire's Humanity
Thomas Hodgkin and British Colonial Activism 1830–1870
, pp. 137 - 172
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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