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On 3 November 2020 Dr Michael Taylor will be answering questions on his paper: ‘The West India Interest and the parliamentary defence of slavery, 1823-33’. The paper will be available to download via the IHR and History of Parliament websites two weeks prior to the seminar.

From the moment that Thomas Fowell Buxton proposed the gradual emancipation of colonial slaves in 1823, the West India Interest and its parliamentary allies launched a furious political campaign to defend slavery from British abolitionists. This paper considers the fluctuating parliamentary strength of the pro-slavery lobby, its relations with the Tory and the Whig ministries of the period, and how the eventual passage of slave emancipation - far from an eventuality - was in fact contingent upon high political events of the late 1820s and early 1830s, namely the disintegration of the Tory consensus following Catholic relief and the election of a reformed House of Commons in 1832. 


Dr Michael Taylor is the author of The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery (Penguin, 2020). He is a historian of colonial slavery, the British Empire and the British Isles. He graduated with a double first in history from the University of Cambridge, where he earned his PhD - and also won University Challenge. He has since been Lecturer in Modern British History at Balliol College, Oxford, and a Visiting Fellow at the British Library's Eccles Centre for American Studies.

The seminar will take the form of a question and answer session based on a pre-circulated paper.

The paper is available to download here and via the History of Parliament website two weeks prior to the seminar

If you have any further questions, or you have not received a copy of the paper ahead of the seminar, or you would like to submit a question please contact the conveners at