Abolition, the West India Colonies and the Troubling Case of Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, 1807–1823

By S.A.Cavell, published March 2021


As commander-in-chief of the Leeward Islands station in 1807, Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane became principal enforcer of the new Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. He was also a plantation and slave owner with much to lose from upholding the law. By manipulating distinctions between apprentices and enslaved labour, Cochrane served his own interests, capitalizing on distance from the metropole and the power that came from wartime colonial reliance on Royal Navy protection. His story reflects Britain’s larger struggle with empire, identity, and morality during an age of war and abolition.

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Filed under: Atlantic
Subjects include: Administration | Biography | Strategy & Diplomacy

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