Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER V. - The History of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, vol. 2
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CHAPTER V. - Thomas Clarkson, The History of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, vol. 2 
The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament, 2 vols. (London: L. Taylor, 1808). Vol. 2.
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Continuation from July 1792 to July 1793—Author travels round the kingdom again—Motion to renew the resolution of the last year in the Commons—Motion lost—New Motion in the Commons to abolish the foreign Slave-trade—Motion lost—Proceedings of the Lords.
The resolution adopted by the Commons, that the trade should cease in 1796, was a matter of great joy to many; and several, in consequence of it, returned to the use of sugar. The committee, however, for the abolition did not view it in the same favourable light. They considered it as a political manœuvre to frustrate the accomplishment of the object. But the circumstance, which gave them the most concern, was the resolution of the Lords to hear evidence. It was impossible now to say, when the trade would cease. The witnesses in behalf of the merchants and planters had obtained possession of the ground; and they might keep it, if they chose, even till the year 1800, to throw light upon a measure which was to be adopted in 1796. The committee found too, that they had again the laborious task before them of finding out new persons to give testimony in behalf of their cause; for some of their former witnesses were dead, and others were out of the kingdom; and unless they replaced these, there would be no probability of making out that strong case in the Lords, which they had established in the Commons. It devolved therefore upon me once more to travel for this purpose: but as I was then in too weak a state to bear as much fatigue as formerly, Dr. Dickson relieved me, by taking one part of the tour, namely, that to Scotland, upon himself.
These journeys we performed with considerable success; during which the committee elected Mr. Joseph Townsend of Baltimore, in Maryland, an honorary and corresponding member.
Parliament having met, Mr. Wilberforce, in February 1793, moved, that the House resolve itself into a committee of the whole House on Thursday next, to consider of the circumstances of the Slave-trade. This motion was opposed by Sir William Yonge, who moved, that this day six months should be substituted for Thursday next. A debate ensued: of this, however, as well as of several which followed, I shall give no account; as it would be tedious to the reader to hear a repetition of the same arguments. Suffice it to say, that the motion was lost by a majority of sixty-one to fifty-three.
This sudden refusal of the House of Commons to renew their own vote of the former year gave great uneasiness to the friends of the cause. Mr. Wilberforce, however, resolved, that the session should not pass without an attempt to promote it in another form; and accordingly, on the fourteenth of May, he moved for leave to bring in a bill to abolish that part of the Slave-trade, by which the British merchants supplied foreigners with slaves. This motion was opposed like the former; but was carried by a majority of seven. The bill was then brought in; and it passed its first and second reading with little opposition; but on the fifth of June, notwithstanding the eloquence of Mr. Pitt and of Mr. Fox, and the very able speeches of Mr. Francis, Mr. Courtenay, and others, it was lost by a majority of thirty-one to twenty-nine.
In the interval between these motions the question experienced in the Lords considerable opposition. The Duke of Clarence moved that the House should not proceeed in the consideration of the Slave-trade till after the Easter recess. The Earl of Abingdon was still more hostile afterwards. He deprecated the new philosophy. It was as full of mischief as the Box of Pandora. The doctrine of the abolition of the Slave-trade was a species of it; and he concluded by moving, that all further consideration of the subject be postponed. To the epithet, then bestowed upon the abolition of it by this nobleman, the Duke of Clarence added those of fanatics and hypocrites! among whom he included Mr. Wilberforce by name. All the other Lords, however, who were present, manifested such a dislike to the sentiments of the Earl of Abingdon, hat he withdrew this motion.
After this the hearing of evidence on the resolution of the House of Commons was resumed; and seven persons were examined before the close of the session.