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A Century of Emancipation


This country when it stands before history, will stand, when all else has passed away, not by her fleets and her armies and her commerce, but by the heroic self-denying exertions which she has made to put down this iniquitous [slave] traffic (Lord Rosebery).

Dedicated to a Lady

As a century of effort to abolish slavery in all its forms drew to a close, the forces engaged against overwhelming odds in the defence of Native Races found their ranks inspirited by a new personality in their midst - a woman with her soul aflame for the succour and freedom of the oppressed had come forward and had thrown herself into the struggle.

Like Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Fry and Harriet Beecher-Stowe, she lays bold hands upon men and women in every walk of life. She will lay under tribute rulers of the earth as readily as she enlists the help of the widow with her generous mite. Neither physical limitations nor social engagements are permitted to curb her humane activities. She is often the despair of her doctors when at the risk of her own health she undertakes some enterprise in order of save the bodies and souls of others. Such a woman is Lady Simon, and to her this book is gratefully dedicated.

Author's preface

This book is an attempt to meet what I am told the public demands - 'a popular book' setting forth the story of struggles during a hundred years for emancipating child races, backward races, native races from systems either of slavery or of oppression under which they the weaker races have been in the past and are still to-day exploited for selfish ends.

I don't know exactly what constitutes a 'popular book,' but I am told that its first essential is brevity - a book in a chapter, a chapter in a page, a paragraph in a sentence! This task of compression has been no light one. Let the reader imagine what it means to bring within the compass of less than seventy thousand words the suffering, and for the majority untimely death, of at least 25,000,000 human beings during the last hundred years. Millions of them during their short existence had their flesh torn with the lash or their bodies broken under torture; millions again have known no family life; their persons and their labour have been at the disposal of the highest bidder. Any one of the systems of slavery under which they have suffered would require at least one book to itself - and there have been a dozen of them during the hundred years under review.

This book is not merely an attempt to portray suffering, it is also an attempt to give a brief account of the systems under which these things have been done, and still more an effort to recount the light and shade of the great struggles carried on by a mere handful of earnest souls beginning with Clarkson, Wilberforce, Buxton, Pitt, Sturge, Macaulay, Lushington, Grey, Livingstone, then on to Vandervelde, Dilke, Fox Bourne, Morel, Hodgkin and others.

The book will fail in its purpose if it does not focus public attention on systems of oppression which are in operation to-day - Slave- systems which hold in bondage over 5,000,000 men, women, boys and girls, every one of whom is a saleable property; Labour systems which hold men and women by force or fraud; Land systems which take from the native his only means of economic freedom.

The book shows how those who have struggled and are still struggling with these sordid but powerful forces have never numbered more than a few hundreds. Whilst it may be true that those few hundreds have been men and women of wisdom and influence, yet it is even more true that they have been men and women possessed of souls burning with a spiritual passion for freedom and justice - that was and is their chief source of strength.

If this had not been so, how could they have slain so many Goliaths of greed and cruelty in every decade of the last hundred years, for they have never been equipped with the ample resources of other philanthropic bodies? The splendid missionary work of Great Britain attracts no less than 2,500,000 a year for Protestant missions to preach the gospel of divine forgiveness and love. The great work for the prevention of cruelty to animals, with its generous income of 100,000 a year, is another parallel. But for the purpose of preaching the divine gospel of simple justice for native races and for the prevention of cruelty to the child races of the world, less than 2,000 a year is contributed! Surely a sorry fact which is not less amazing than the splendid victories which have been won, the millions saved from the lash, the chain, the shackle and the gun; the millions whose labour systems have been cleansed from fraud and force, and the millions whose economic freedom has been preserved to them.

In the difficult task of compressing the accumulated mass of material and presenting it within the compass of these 270 pages, I am deeply indebted to my friend and colleague Lady Stewart, who has given her time and talents regardless of many other claims upon her time and energy. But above all, we have shared a personal interest which at a time of exceptional stress and difficulty has been an invaluable comradeship.

To many members of the Buxton and Wilberforce families, particularly to the Earl and Countess Buxton, Lord Noel Buxton, Mr. Travers Buxton and Sir Herbert Wilberforce, we have been much indebted for suggestions, facts and documents, some of which have hitherto been either unpublished or unknown.

Table of content

  • Chapter: I. Abolitionists and Emancipators
    Wilberforce and his Colleagues - Spiritual Forces - 'Property' alarmed - The Asiento - Attitudes of: Burke, Pitt, Fox, Duke of Wellington, Joseph Sturge, John Gladstone - The Religious Bodies.
  • Chapter: II. Abolitionists and Emancipators
    Wilberforce and Buxton - Buxton's Family and Early Life - Buxton enters Parliament - Joins Wilberforce - Historic Conference at Cromer Hall - Clarkson on Work of Wilberforce and Buxton.
  • Chapter: III. Abolitionists and Emancipators
    Motion for Emancipation - Attitude of Canning - Conflict between Planters and Colonial Office - Wilberforce applies for Chiltern Hundreds - Slaves' Revolt - Slave Trade in Mauritius - The Hottentots of South Africa - The Decision of 1830 - The Cruelties of Slavery - The 1832 Insurrection - The Emancipation Bill - Victory - Death of Wilberforce.
  • Chapter: IV. The Aftermath of Slavery - Apprenticeship
    Good Behaviour of Emancipated Negroes - Apprenticeship; its Drawbacks and Abuses - Houses of Correction-Joseph Sturge - His Visit to West Indies - Negro Progress - Building of Churches and Schools - Apprenticeship Abolished.
  • Chapter: V. The Aftermath of Slavery - Coolie Labour
    First Indians Shipped - High Mortality - Flogging - French Colonies - The Recruiters - Fines - 'Half Free' -'A Machine for sending Men to Prison' - 'Protectors' - The India Office - Coolie Labour Abolished.
  • Chapter: VI. The Aftermath of Slavery - Aborigines' Protection
    The Aborigines Committee - A Great Charter - Buxton's 'Three Great Objects' - The Kaffir War of 1835 - Land-Nine Principles of Government.
  • Chapter: VII. The Aftermath of Slavery - Buxton's Last Years
    Foreign Slave Trade - Prince Albert and the Niger Expedition - Its 'Failure' - Buxton's Ill-health - Death - His Tomb in Westminster Abbey.
  • Chapter: VIII. Victorian Struggles
    Labour in South Africa - Land Struggles - Foreign Slave Trade - Spanish Trade - World Slavery Conference - French Slavery - French Emancipators - Brazilian Slavery - Turkish Slavery - General Gordon and the Soudan - Slavery in Morocco - Situation in Indian States - Zanzibar Slavery.
  • Chapter: IX. Victorian Struggles
    Boer versus Native - The Basutos - The Bechuana - Tucker in Uganda - Kaffir Wars - Kanaka Labour - Scandal of New Hebrides - Polynesian Kidnapping.
  • Chapter: X. The Servitude of Rubber and Cocoa - The Congo
    The Inception of the Congo Free State - The 'Personal State' - Its Rubber and its Tragedy - The Brussels Conference - The Basis of the System - What 'Force' Meant - The Commission of Enquiry - Women Hostages - Destruction of both People and Rubber Vines - Flogging and Mutilation - The Public Conscience in Britain and Belgium - Emile Vandervelde - The Reformers - Reduction of Population - King Leopold's Profits - Belgian Annexation and the End of 'Congo Atrocities.'
  • Chapter: XI. The Servitude of Rubber and Cocoa - Putumayo Rubber
    Hardenburg's Story - The British Select Committee - The Putumayo System - Action by Sir Edward Grey - Mr. Justice Swinfen Eady on Company's Records - The Atrocities - Swinfen Eady orders Company to be wound up - The Opponents - Mr. Charles Roberts.
  • Chapter: XII. The Servitude of Rubber and Cocoa - Portuguese Cocoa - Its Slavery and Its Nemesis
    St. Thome Cocoa - The British Chocolate Firms - Sir Edward Grey's Action - Cadbury-Standard Case - Ross and Cramer.
  • Chapter: XIII. Native Lands and British Policy
    The Rival 'Heresies' - The Native Conception - Land Distribution - Lord Selborne's Dilemma - A Filibustering Agreement - The Struggle for Rhodesian Lands - The Judgment - South African Policy - The Kenya Expropriation - Kenya Distribution - Native Uneasiness - West African Policy.
  • Chapter: XIV. National to International Effort
    First Anti-Slavery Treaties - The Asiento - Payments to Portugal and Spain - Castlereagh and Wellington - The Berlin Conference - The Brussels Conference - The Versailles Conference - The League of Nations - Britain and Piracy - Adoption of British Proposals - International Responsibility - The International Machine - Public Opinion.
  • Chapter: XV. Slavery to-day
    What is Slavery? - 5,000,000 Slaves - Serfdom - The Price of Women - Tortures - Slave-breeding - The Mekka Slave Market - Slavery in China - Slave-raiding - Captain Yardley - Herr Gruhl - Sir Arnold Hodson.
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix
    The Slavery Convention of the League of Nations, 1926

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