Smeathman dies in London from a ‘putrid fever’ in July 1786. The Committee for the Black Poor sully his posthumous reputation, possibly because of his support for a mixed-race constitution in Sierra Leone. They fail to see that Smeathman’s scheme for commercial agriculture, powered by the labour of redeemed slaves, presented a small step forward in recasting the relationship between forced labour and empire. Smeathman’s essay on the West African termite has many afterlives, especially in terms of its engravings, but the big book on Africa and the West Indies—his ‘Voyages and Travels’—is never published.
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