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A Review of the Report of a Select Committee of the House of Commons, on the State of the West India Colonies

A Review of the Report of a Select Committee of the House of Commons, on the State of the West India Colonies

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Excerpt from A Review of the Report of a Select Committee of the House of Commons, on the State of the West India Colonies: Ordered to Be Printed, 13th April, 1832; Or, the Interests of the Country and the Prosperity of the West India Planters Mutually Secured by the Immediate Abolition of Slavery

The real cause of the depression and distress of the West India planters may be so clearly inferred from the concluding remarks in the Report, of which the following pages are a review, that we may very properly commence with an extract from it. The Committee say: -

"In concluding their consideration of the causes of the depressed state of the West India Colonies, your Committee has not forgotten that that depressed state has existed in former times, and at periods anterior to the abolition of the slave trade. To one or these periods their attention has been specially called, by the reference of the report of the Committee of 1807, whence it appears that during the late war, and while still supplied with slaves from Africa, the planters complained of inadequate returns, and of unequal competition in Foreign markets. These results were then ascribed to the circumstances of the war, which has long ceased, and were necessarily independent of the causes now alleged. Your Committee are well aware that this similarity of complaint, and discrepancy of assigned reasons, has occasioned some distrust of the accuracy of those which are now put forward.

"But it appears to your Committee that the original cause of depression was, and is, the same at both periods, and the difference is in the circumstance of aggravation. That cause is in this, as in many other cases, over-production; but in this case, as in no others of which your Committee are aware, entirely remediless on the part of the producer.

"The West India Colonist not only feels, with any other proprietor of land, the difficulty of altering the application of his capital; he not only feels, in a greater degree than proprietors in general, the difficulty of changing the appropriation of his soil; he is subject to a burden peculiar to himself, that of maintaining, be his profits what they may, the whole body of labourers, and of their families, existing upon his land.

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