This presentation examines the parallel lives of two white gentlemen who were born in Great Britain, became enslavers in the West Indies and West Africa, and then published works of History on Africa and peoples of African descent in the year 1793. It argues that their texts were reactions to the rise of the abolitionist movement. For over three centuries, enslavers had collaborated with metropolitan chroniclers to produce new knowledge about the Atlantic World. With the rise of abolition, enslavers lost their trust in these inherited structures of knowledge production and were compelled to create an archive of their own.
Devin Leigh is a PhD Candidate and Teaching Assistant in the History Department at the University of California, Davis. He studies the Atlantic World in the early-modern period, with a particular focus on connections between the British Isles, West Africa, and the Caribbean in the late eighteenth century. His research has been supported by such institutions as the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. His work has recently appeared in such journals as New West Indian Guide, History in Africa, and The Journal of Caribbean History.