Slavery and the slavery business have cast a long shadow over British history. In 1833, abolition was heralded as evidence of Britain's claim to be themodern global power, its commitment to representative government in Britain, free labour, the rule of law, and a benevolent imperial mission all aspects of a national identity rooted in notions of freedom and liberty. Yet much is still unknown about the significance of the slavery, slave-ownership and emancipation in the formation of modern imperial Britain. This essays in this book explore fundamental issues including the economic impact of slavery and slave-ownership, the varied forms of labour deployed in the imperial world, including hired slaves and indentured labourers, the development of the C19th imperial state, slavery and public and family history, and contemporary debates about reparations. The contributors, drawn from Britain, the Caribbean and Mauritius, include some of the most distinguished writers in the field: Clare Anderson, Robin Blackburn, Heather Cateau, Mary Chamberlain, Chris Evans, Pat Hudson, Richard Huzzey, Zoë Laidlaw, Alison Light, Anita Rupprecht, Verene A. Shepherd, Andrea Stuart and Vijaya Teelock. The impact of slavery and slave-ownership is once again becoming a major area of historical and contemporary concern: this book makes a vital contribution to the subject.
In 1660 the four nations of the British Isles were governed by one imperial crown but by three parliaments. The abolition of the Scottish and Irish Parliaments in 1707 and 1800 created a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland centred upon the Westminster legislature. This book takes state formation. A number of important points emerge, however, the book deals with three. The first and most obvious point is that the unions were limited in scope and were palpably not incorporating . The second point is that, depending upon the issue, parliament required or encouraged not only different arguments but different voices. The final conclusion to emerge from these essays is that utility of 'national identity' as a way of understanding how people in the period conceived of themselves and their relationship to the state is not as clear and certain as might be first thought. National identity was one amongst a number of geo-political communities people might belong to, albeit a very important one. Inasmuch as the Westminster parliament provided a forum in which debates about how to legislate for three kingdoms took place, in its own way it helped to reinforce awareness of that difference. 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. After 1832, virtual representation, though it survived in many different ways, became associated in the colonial context with nabobs and planters, the very demons of 'old Corruption'.