Slaves, sati and sugar
Constructing imperial identity through Liverpool petition struggles
in Parliaments, nations and identities in Britain and Ireland, 1660–1850
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Liverpool petitions allow us to explore the intersection between policy debate and imperial identity during a pivotal era in the evolution of the British empire. The Liverpool West India Association joined a national campaign for even more preferential duties in favour of Caribbean sugar. A petition from the East India Association's president urged moderation, but a renegade group of merchants sent a strident pro-equalisation memorial. Abolitionists were able to marginalise the slave trade as a special interest whose importance was confined to Liverpool and the colonies. Though Liverpool interests were publicly united in defence of the slave trade, they found it harder to form a common front with merchants in other ports to co-ordinate an attack on abolitionism. Dissenting involvement in the anti-sati and anti-slavery campaigns accelerated in Liverpool only after the religious toleration mobilisations of 1827-1828. By mid-1830, the sati had been banned throughout British India.

Editor: Julian Hoppit

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