Imperial contests and the conquest of the frontier
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Imperial contests and the conquest of the frontier book
The editor of The Graham's Town Journal . . . is . . . the representative of a class, alas both numerous and in¯uential in the eastern province . . . whose motto is `Bow down that we may pass over'.1
(William Thompson, LMS agent in Cape Town, March 1851)
In the face of opposition from humanitarians, settlers' representations proved insuf®ciently persuasive in the metropole during the mid-1830s. The abandonment of Queen Adelaide Province marked a defeat for both settlers' and Cape of®cials' colonial projects. However, in retrospect, the 1830s can be seen as the highpoint of humanitarianism's direct political in¯uence. Thereafter, while the mobilisation of a humanitarian network continued in Britain and its colonies, its in¯uence would be dispersed into more diverse and less cohesive projects. By the early 1840s, the key proponents of earlier humanitarian thinking had retired from active politics. Buxton had lost his seat in the House of Commons and the ageing Philip had withdrawn from contests with the colonial state and settlers. The Whigs, now dependent on Daniel O'Connell and other `radicals' for parliamentary support, were a more marginal group within the House of Commons. But the malaise of liberal humanitarianism went far deeper than the loss of vigorous metropolitan and colonial adherents and the contingencies of electoral politics. It occurred within a broad context of disillusionment with the humanitarian notion that `unreclaimed' human subjectivities could be rapidly transformed.