HC Deb 06 February 1821 vol 4 cc428-9
Mr. W. Smith

said, it was now nearly fourteen years since this country had declared the crime, disgrace, and shame which attached to the African Slave Trade. No sooner had that desirable object been attained, than we turned to the other powers of Europe, and endeavoured to procure from them the same determination. In the peace of 1815, the exertions of the noble lord opposite, procured the abolition by the united voices of almost all nations. He was happy to say, that the noble lord, in employing his able exertions in the cause, had been supported by one of the greatest sovereigns in Europe, the emperor of Russia. He also had to mention a noble duke, to whom the country was so deeply indebted, as being among the most strenuous in accomplishing this great object. And for that alone, besides his other high services in the field, the country owed him everlasting gratitude. At the period to which he had alluded, every power in Europe was assembled at the congress of Vienna; and there they agreed in declaring, that the Slave Trade was contrary to all the principles of humanity and of morality. How, then, came it to pass that a period of five years had elapsed, and these powers had afforded no cooperation for carrying their declaration into effect? It therefore appeared, that we had only prevailed upon them to agree to the abolition in word, and that they were not disposed actively to co-operate with us in deed. Denmark had indeed done so, and America had done so. America had not only done that, but by an Act of Congress she had declared, that Missouri should not be admitted among the federal slates, until every kind of slavery was abolished in that country. But by France, Spain, and Portugal, upon the southern coast of Africa North of the Line, called the Gold and Ivory Coast, the trade was still carried on in a manner move disgraceful than had been witnessed even in the worst times of the British trading. He concluded by moving for copies or extracts of all communications received by the Lords of the Admiralty from the officers of the navy employed on the coast of Africa, relative to the Slave Trade, from the 1st of January, 1819; with copies of Instructions issued by the Lords of the Admiralty to those officers; and copies of various other papers and communications relative to the present state of the Slave Trade.

Mr. Wilberforce

acquiesced in every thing which his hon. friend had stated.

Lord Castlereagh

assured the hon. member, that every effort of the government had been directed to the subject of the present motion. It was most satisfactory to him, that parliament should, from time to time, take up the consideration of this important question.

The motion was agreed to.