Jane Samson
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Too zealous guardians?
The Royal Navy and the South Pacific labour trade
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This chapter examines the idea of naval guardianship as expressed in the Royal Navy's campaign against the South Pacific labour trade. Throughout this campaign, sympathetic naval officers regarded Britain, through her navy, as the guardian of Christian humanity in the South Pacific. The British naval response to Pacific islanders and their interaction with Europeans, particularly during the controversial labour trade, help to understand the way naval guardianship developed in the South Pacific. The connection of abolitionism with naval activity was no less important in the Pacific than in Africa; among the little-known southern islands, the Royal Navy had long taken pride in its role as guardian and enforcer of British humanitarian sensibility. A well-known phenomenon for British social and political historians, humanitarianism in the Royal Navy has received little attention, except in the most visible context of Britain's African antislavery campaign.

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Guardians of empire

The armed forces of the colonial powers c. 1700–1964


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