Less “Determined in His Purpose” than “Sincere in His Wishes”: Amelioration at Henry Goulburn’s Amity Hall Estate, Jamaica, 1825-1833
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Scholars have debated the effects of amelioration on plantation management and the lives of the enslaved. This thesis is a case study of Henry Goulburn’s Amity Hall estate in Vere parish, Jamaica, spanning 1825-1833 set within the historical and historiographical contexts of amelioration. Goulburn was a British politician who managed his estate as an absentee owner through his Jamaican agents. His limited attempts at ameliorating conditions for his slaves were done through his attorney. He only introduced reform at Amity Hall in 1831 when his failure to do so was made public by recurring charges from the Anti-Slavery Society. The slave system itself limited the extent of the success of Parliamentary, colonial, and planter and agents’ attempts at amelioration. Enslaved people were the biggest catalyst for change during the era of amelioration. They utilized overt and covert action and made known to Amity Hall’s managers what real amelioration entailed.