HL Deb 18 August 1843 vol 71 cc915-8
Lord Brougham

said, that seeing his noble Friend at the head of the foreign department in his place, he wished to obtain some information from him rela- tive to a state of great interest at the present time, namely Texas. That country was in a state of independence de facto, but its independence had never been acknowledged by Mexico, the state from which it was torn by the events of the revolution. He was aware that its independence had been so far acknowledged by this country, that we had a treaty with it. The importance of Texas could not be underrated. It was a country of the greatest capabilities, and was in extent fully as large as France. It possessed a soil of the finest and most fertile character, and it was capable of producing nearly all tropical produce, and its climate was of a most healthy character. It had access to the Gulf of Mexico, through the river Mississippi, by which it communicated by means of the Red River. The population of the country was said to exceed 240,000, but he had been assured by a gentleman who came from that country, and who was a member of the same profession as himself, that the whole population, free and slaves, white and coloured, did not exceed 100,000; but he was grieved to learn that not less than one-fourth of the population, or 25,000 persons, were in a state of slavery. This point led him to the foundation of the question which he wished to put to his noble Friend. There was very little or no slave-trade carried on with Texas from Africa directly; but a large number of slaves were constantly being sent over land to that country. Although the major part of the land in Texas was well adapted for white labour, and therefore for free cultivation still the people of that country, by some strange infatuation, or by some inordinate love of immediate gain, preferred slave labour to free labour. As all access to the African slave market was shut out to them, their market for slaves was the United States, from whence they obtained a large supply of negro slaves. The markets from whence they obtained their supply of slaves were Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, which states constantly sent their surplus slave population, which would otherwise be a burthen to them, to the Texian market. No doubt it was true, as had been stated, that they treated their slaves tolerably well, because they knew that it was for their interest to rear them, as they had such a profitable market for them in Texas. This made him irresistibly anxious for the abolition of slavery in Texas, for if it were abolished, there not only would that country be cultivated by free and white labour, but it would put a stop to the habit of breeding slaves for the Texian market. The consequence would be, that they would solve this great question in the history of the United States, for it must ultimately end in the abolition of slavery in America. He, therefore, looked forward most anxiously to the abolition of slavery in Texas, as he was convinced that it would ultimately end in the abolition of slavery throughout the whole of America. He knew that the Texians would do much, as regarded the abolition of slavery, if Mexico could be induced to recognize their independence. If, therefore, by our good offices, we could get the Mexican Government to acknowledge the independence of Texas, he would suggest a hope that it might terminate in the abolition of slavery in Texas, and ultimately the whole of the southern states of America. The abolition of slavery in Texas must put an end to one of the most execrable crimes—for he would not detignate it by the honourable name of sraflic—that could disgrace a people—namely, the rearing and breeding of slaves, or being engaged in the sale of our fellow-creatures. He, therefore, hoped that his noble Friend would have no difficulty in letting him know whether he could give any information as to the state of the negotiations on this subject, or as to the nature of the instructions that had been given to our minister in that country. If the production of such documents in the furnishing such information was not suitable at the present moment, he would not press his noble Friend; but he had no doubt that his noble Friend would confirm his statement, and he trusted that the Government would not lose any opportunity of pressing the subject, whenever they could do so with a hope of success.

The Earl of Aberdeen

could state, that not only had this country acknowledged the independence of Texas, but also that we had a treaty of commerce, and a treaty for the abolition of the slave trade with that power. He did not believe, that there was any importation of slaves into Texas by sea, but it was true that there was a large importation of slaves from the United States into that country. Immediately on the negotiations being entered on with Texas, the utmost endeavours of this country were used to put an end to the war which prevented the full and entire recognition of the independence of Texas by Mexico. Their endeavours had met with very great difficulties, and he was unable to say that there was an immediate prospect of obtaining the recognition of the independence of Texas on the part of Mexico; but it was with great pleasure that he was able to say, that probably the first step to this had been obtained, namely, that an armistice had been established between the two powers, and he hoped that this would lead to the absolute acknowledgment of the independence of Texas by Mexico. The armistice was an important step to obtain; and he need hardly say, that every effort on the part of her Majesty's Government would lead to that result which was contemplated by his noble Friend. He was sure that he need hardly say, that no one was more anxious than himself to see the abolition of slavery in Texas; and if he could not consent to produce papers, or to give further information, it did not arise from indifference, but from quite a contrary reason. In the present state of the negotiations between the two countries in question, it would not contribute to the end they had in view if he then expressed any opinion as to the state of those negotiations; but he could assure his noble Friend that, by means of urging the negotiations, as well as by every other means in their power, her Majesty's Ministers would press this matter.

Lord Brougham

observed, that nothing could be more satisfactory than the statement of his noble Friend, which would be received with joy by all favourable to the object of the anti-slavery societies.