Angie Osborne | University of Hull
My thesis is a study of the London West India Committee, an eighteenth and nineteenth century lobbying group that was comprised of merchants trading to the West Indies, absentee plantation owners and colonial agents appointed by the colonial assemblies to represent their interests in the metropole. I became interested in this topic while working as freelance historical researcher and writer.
During the 2007 Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade commemorations, I was aware that the focus was predominantly on the abolitionists with very little focus on the slave-owners. Despite slavery being sanctioned and supported by the political and economic structures from the mid-16th century, there was no discourse on this sanction and support. I wanted to explore this imbalance.
I noted that there was a difference between the planters resident in the West Indies and those resident in the metropole, which meant that the proslavery lobby was not as monolithic as had been assumed. The metropolitan defenders of enslavement influenced by the Enlightenment, adopted strategies that were at odds with the colonists.
My thesis is really a comprehensive study of the lobbying activities of the West India Committee and how, as emancipation became more apparent tried to distance themselves from the colonies. I found the undertaking of my thesis to be an enriching experience!
Symbols of Power: A Study of the West India Committee 1783-1833 awarded 2015.