Contradictory Aims in West Africa: the Cardwell Policy, 1864–5
ON 17 June 1864 Vice-Admiral Sir John Hay rose in the House of Commons to make a furious onslaught upon Lord Palmerston’s Government. Clutching in his hand some letters from a brother who had just died on military service in the Gold Coast, Hay spoke with intense emotion as he moved a motion of censure on the Cabinet: ‘The men who have betrayed Denmark and truckled to Germany … who have alienated France and irritated Russia… who have convulsed China and devastated Japan; the same men who ten years ago sent a British army to perish of cold, of hunger, of want of shelter in a Crimean winter … have now sent British troops to perish of fever, of thirst, and of want of shelter on the burning plains and fetid swamps of Western Africa.’1 Only a year before Palmerston’s death, the great statesman, who had once challenged the crowned heads of Europe and had dominated the British political scene for the past decade, was thus angrily denounced and forced to defend his ‘benevolent crotchet’. He replied, with a hint of the old aggressive fire, that if England became responsible for protecting ‘tribes of men’ the honour of the country sometimes demanded steps to ‘make that protection not an empty word but a reality’.2 But many of his hearers were not impressed. Admiral Hay’s motion of censure was rejected by the slender margin of seven votes.
KeywordsNiger Delta Slave Trade Gold Coast Select Committee Cape Coast
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