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’.
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