Guyana Documentary History Series
British Parliamentary Debate on the
Trial of Rev. John Smith
Edited by Odeen Ishmael
Introduction: By Odeen Ishmael
The Demerara Slave Uprising and the trial of Rev. John Smith
From around the closing years of the eighteenth century some organisations were established in England to campaign for the abolition of slavery in the British colonies. These included the Baptist Missionary Society, the London Missionary Society, the Church Missionary Society, the Britisha nd Foreign Bible Society, the Methodist Society, and the Anti-Slavery Society formed in 1823.
The Anti-Slavery Society was very influential since among its members were the Quakers and important Members of Parliament including William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and Fowell Buxton. In April 1823 Buxton presented a motion in the House of Commons calling for a gradual abolition of slavery in all British colonies, but it was defeated because the majority felt that the abolition of slavery would leave the planters without a labour force. Instead, measures to ameliorate the condition of slaves were adopted. These ordered that female slaves should not be whipped as punishment and drivers should not carry whips in the field. Read More