Reconstructs the business activities of the Scottish-born Liverpool merchant and plantation owner John Gladstone, placed within the context of slavery and the abolition of slavery, and the general colonial history of British Guiana, particularly in the Demerara colony. Author describes how Gladstone acquired several plantations with slaves in Demerara, and how he responded to the increasing criticism of slavery, and the bad conditions of slaves in these Demerara plantations. He describes how Gladstone was an absentee owner in Jamaica and Guyana, where he never set foot, and depended on information by his plantation attorneys or managers, who generally painted too positive a picture of the slaves' conditions, which in reality were characterized by high mortality rates, disease, and abuse of slaves. Also discusses the Demerara slave revolt of 1823 affecting some of Gladstone's plantations.
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