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Henry Smeathman, the FlycatcherNatural History, Slavery, and Empire in the Late Eighteenth Century$
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Deirdre Coleman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940537

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786940537.001.0001

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(p.187) Chapter Seven Antislavery
Henry Smeathman, the Flycatcher

Deirdre Coleman

Liverpool University Press

Smeathman arrives in the West Indies mid-1775, just as the American revolution begins. He makes numerous comparisons between tropical nature in its ‘rude’ (African) state and its ‘cultivated’ (West Indian) version, He also observes the various societies of the different islands and, appalled by the cruelty of plantation slavery, starts to reconsider Quaker Fothergill’s plans for ‘legitimate’ African commerce. The flogging of slaves in public places shocks him into sketching two of these scenes, one of which is particularly chilling because it is conducted by a white woman. Smeathman decides to return to England and compile his ‘Voyages and Travels’, a book which would reveal the truth about ‘those little known and much misrepresented people the Negroes’.

Keywords:   West Indies, American Revolution, Plantation slavery, Marmaduke Tunstall, Janet Schaw, Sketches of public punishments

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