By: Allan Hux
Henry Dundas should be honoured.
Rosemary Sadlier, the Past President of the Ontario Black History Society was interviewed on CBC Radio 99.1 and mentioned 2 important historical facts about Dundas.
First, that he was a lawyer in Scotland and when a Scot tried to bring a slave into the country in the early 1790s, Dundas stepped up and represented the Black African man. He challenged the move by the slaveowner and had the Black man declared free as slavery was illegal in Scotland.
Second, Dundas was an abolitionist. When they couldn’t get the resolution to abolish slavery outright passed through the British Parliament in the early 1800s, he proposed a law to phase in the abolition of slavery for the British Empire. This was an ABOLITION strategy. This resolution also failed and it took until 1834 to get an abolition bill passed. This was almost 30 years LATER.
William Wilberforce, among the greatest of abolitionists, credits Dundas for guiding the abolition vote through Parliament in 1807.
Worth enshrining on this Simcoe Day weekend, honouring the man who was first in the British Empire to legislate against slavery (1793), here in remote humble Upper Canada.
By Joe Martin, professor of history, University of Toronto
“History can help us appreciate difficulties faced by reformers confronting political realities of their era…Henry Dundas was one such reformer
who successfully promoted abolition of slavery, but could not do it in one parliamentary sitting”