No scholar who is really committed to this subject thinks Dundas was an abolitionist. Scottish politician Henry Dundas' name is all over Ontario. The case led to a 1778 ruling, similar to the more famous decision in the 1772 case of enslaved man James Somersett, in which an English judge ruled that there was no positive law in England that could empower a slave owner to force an enslaved person back to a slaveholding jurisdiction. ©JPIMedia Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. You can also post comments, and manage your email subscription. In the 1790s, faced with the epoch-defining choice to either align Great Britain with freedom or slavery, British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger and his ministers unequivocally chose slavery. Delivered every morning. Want to join the conversation? Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville Henry Dundas Wiki Henry Dundas was not a good guy. Even with all of my training, I could go through the cargo lists of a thousand slave ships and see the name of my own first ancestor in the Americas… and I would never know I had read it. An online petition made to change to name of Dundas Street as a result of Henry Dundas' opposition to the British abolition of slavery in the 18th century, according to CP24.. So, does the name of a street matter? He was the trusted lieutenant of British prime minister William Pitt, and the most powerful politician in Scotland in the latter decades of the 18th century. The supposed intentions of a historical figure like Dundas, dead for more than 200 years, are rarely knowable after the fact. Much of the discussion about Dundas is narrowly focused on the 1792 parliamentary slave trade abolition debate, when he inserted the word ‘gradual’ into William Wilberforce’s abolition bill, which passed in the House of Commons. A petition went up today on the site You.leadnow.ca to change the name of Dundas Street in Toronto. Across the pond, Dundas Street is a major historic arterial road in Ontario. In 1795, Dundas threw Britain’s military might against a combined French and Garifuna force for control of the island. I have spent countless hours in the archives of the British empire. With France financially devastated by the war, Napoleon sold the Louisiana Territory to the US. For a historian of slavery and abolition in the Caribbean, these questions are easy to answer. City staff have confirmed that the road was named in 1793 by John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, in honour of Scottish politician Henry Dundas, First Viscount Melville. ", "Renaming a major street or public space does create many practical challenges, but we should have a process that can examine our very important and relevant historical questions, along with all of the practical matters involved if such changes were to be made.". Ontario's NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who grew up in Hamilton, supported the idea of renaming the Toronto street on Twitter. My answer is simple: change has to begin somewhere and names mean everything. As Secretary of State for War and Colonies, Dundas prioritised seizing France’s Caribbean slaveholding empire “with the view of enlarging our national wealth and security”. This website and its associated newspaper are members of Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). Napoleon reimposed slavery across the empire in 1802, but he too was unable to defeat the rebels. But interpreting the role of Henry Dundas in the abolition of slavery “is complicated,” the report noted. HIS name was usually only known to students of Scottish history and researchers in the slave trade. Then as now, lawyers’ arguments in court cannot simply be taken as evidence of their own personal beliefs. Let's not forget the generation who made mistakes so that we don't have to see them repeated ever, ever again. Britain had seized St. Vincent from France in 1763, part of the empire’s expansionist vision for slavery and sugar production – however, the Garifuna controlled about half of the island. Or was he a pragmatic abolitionist, whose intervention in one of the most important debates in British parliamentary history rescued abolition from certain defeat? In addition to Dundas County, Dundas Street, an early settlement, military, and post road, was named after Henry Dundas. Those options include renaming Dundas Street as well as other city streets and city assets carrying the Dundas name, retaining the name but adding ceremonial street names and other signage that will address the legacy of Henry Dundas or retaining the name while renaming other city assets with Dundas in its name, such as Yonge-Dundas Square. Haitian independence, the Louisiana Purchase and the end of the Pitt era in Parliament are the backdrop to British slave trade abolition in 1807. Every day we move through streetscapes, pass under the shadow of monuments, learn in buildings and live in towns named for the architects of the structural forms of violence that continue to shape Black and Indigenous lives, limit our choices, destroy our health and kill our children. It ended up forming much … Dundas had nothing to do with the eventual success of slave trade abolition. The Henry Dundas Committee for Public Education on Historic Scotland [1] wishes to highlight important evidence that has been ignored — evidence that shows that Dundas was an abolitionist. Gaining control of the French colony of Saint Domingue, the most profitable slaveholding colony of the age, was his central aim. A street sign for Dundas St. W. in Toronto, Ont. This is a counter petition of this petition calling to rename a major street in Toronto. On street names and monuments: Toronto's Dundas Street is named after Henry Dundas, the 1st Viscount Melville. Shop online for new, used and demo digital cameras, buy digital SLRs and video cameras. Haitian independence (which the UK did not recognise). He proposed a date for abolition eight years in the future – an eternity in politics even in the eighteenth century – which was amended by other MPs to 1796. 295,017 of those people were transported when Dundas was colonial secretary from 1794-1801. A FREE roundup of top news from Guyana you might otherwise miss. These debates are not new to the Caribbean and Colston was not the first slave trader whose monument ended up in the ocean. However, these essentially echoed the goals of the 1788 Consolidated Slave Law, passed by the slaveowner-controlled Jamaican House of Assembly, which were meant to preserve slavery, not abolish it. Rewriting history because it's messy is scary. The spotlight in Toronto has been on Dundas Street, the major artery that snakes from the city centre far into the suburbs and beyond. This island is the homeland (yurumei) of the Garifuna, the Afro-indigenous descendants of African fugitives from enslavement and the indigenous people for whom the Caribbean region was misnamed. And Canada about memorials to Henry Dundas, 1 st Viscount Melville Henry Dundas, 1st Melville. Slavery in any legal jurisdiction besides Scotland i have spent countless hours in the empire 1802. 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