The correspondence between John Gladstone … and James Cropper … on the present state of slavery in the British West Indies and in the United States of America; and on the importation of sugar from the British settlements in India. With an appendix; containing several papers on the subject of slavery.

Liverpool, printed for the West India Association, 1824.

8vo, pp. [ii], iv, 122, xvii, xxviii, [1, blank], x; a few spots to initial leaves, marginal pen marks to first 16 pages, but a good copy, disbound.


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First edition in book form. The correspondence, initiated by the East India merchant James Cropper with an anonymous article in 1823, was first published in the Liverpool Mercury and the Liverpool Courier between 1823 and 1824. James Cropper’s first letter brought up the issue of the ‘impolicy of slavery’, moving from the largely shared agreement on the ‘cruelty and injustice of Negro slavery’ to advancing the more radically economic criticism that ‘such is its inherent impolicy, that if it had not been supported and protected by bounties and prohibitions, it would long since have been ameliorated and finally have fallen’ (p. 2), effectively invoking self-interest as an argument for the suppression of slavery. His criticism to the protective measures created for the benefits of the sugar trade awoke the reaction of Gladstone, a Caribbean planter and West and East India merchant, who replied under the pseudonym of Mercator. Cropper, countered by Gladstone and other slavery supporters, argues that, by lifting the restrictions on the oriental trade, slavery would have ceased because forced labour could not have competed with free labour.

Goldsmiths’ 24313; Ragatz, p. 507.

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