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Jonathan Boucher (1738 – 1804)


English schoolmaster, clergyman and philologist, who spent some years in America, leaving in 1775 because, despite being a close friend of George Washington, he consistently campaigned against the Revolution.
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Jonathan Boucher
"In one essential point, I fear, we are all deficient: they are nowhere sufficiently instructed. I am far from recommending it to you, at once to set them all free; because to do so would be an heavy loss to you, and probably no gain to them: but I do entreat you to make them some amends for the drudgery of their bodies by cultivating their minds. ... though they still continue to be your slaves, they shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."
Boucher quotes
"Were an impartial and competent observer of the state of society in these middle colonies asked, whence it happens that Virginia and Maryland (which were the first planted, and which are superior to many colonies and inferior to none, in point of natural advantage) are still so exceedingly behind most of the other British trans-Atlantic possessions in all those improvements which bring credit and consequence to a country? - he would answer - They are so, because they are cultivated by slaves. ... Some loss and inconvenience would, no doubt, arise from the general abolition of slavery in these colonies: but were it done gradually, with judgement, and with good temper, I have never yet seen it satisfactorily proved that such inconvenience would either be great or lasting. ... If ever these colonies, now filled with slaves, be improved to their utmost capacity, an essential part of the improvement must be the abolition of slavery. Such a change would hardly be more to the advantage of the slaves, than it would be to their owners."
Boucher
"It is surprising what improper and indecent contentions these popular elections occasioned. I have oftener than once known half-a-dozen candidates all trying for a vacant parish, and preaching alternately, to give their electors an opportunity of determining what they liked best. Voice and action, as is remarked in a very humorous pamphlet respecting London lectureships, almost constantly carried it. ... Preachers and ministers so elected, continuing still in some degree dependent on the people, continued also chiefly to cultivate those arts by which their favour had first been gained. Their sermons were light, flippant, and ordinary; but their manner of preaching was pleasing and popular."




Boucher Jonathan quotes
"That the people of America should be severed from Great Britain, even your fellow Congressionalists from the North would not be hardy enough yet to avow; but that this will certainly follow from the measures you have been induced by them to adopt, is obvious to every man who is permitted yet to think for himself. ... see ye not that after some few years of civil broils all the fair settlements in the middle and southern colonies will be seized on by our more enterprising and restless fellow-colonists of the North? At first and for a while perhaps they may be contented to be the Dutch of America, i.e. to be our carriers and fishmongers, for which no doubt, as their sensible historian [Edmund Burke] has observed, they seem to be destined by their situation, soil, and climate: but had so sagacious an observer foreseen that a time might come when all North America should be independent, he would, it is probable, have added to his other remark, that those his Northern brethren would then become also the Goths and Vandals of America."
Boucher Jonathan
"Our rulers (both here and in Great Britain) will now have leisure to attend to every part of our American polity; and, among other things, to the state of Indians: ... they have been looked upon as untamed and untameable monsters; whom, like the devoted nations around Judea, it was a kind of religion with white men to exterminate. We have treated them with a rigour and severity equally unsuitable to the genius of our government, and the mild spirit of our religion."
Jonathan Boucher quotes
[In a later footnote, he explains further:] "children can never be upbraided with their having had a felon for a father: whereas the descendants of a white person, married to a black one, would, for many generations, by their complexion, proclaim their origin. Accordingly, though many mulattoes and people of colour have obtained wealth, I remember no instance, in any European colony, of their having obtained rank."
Jonathan Boucher
"Territory we do not want; having, it is probable, already more than we well know how to manage. Instead therefore of countenancing that vagrant and unsettled way of life which has become habitual to so many of our people; and that very general passion they have to be for ever running back in quest of fresh lands; a practice not more unpropitious to all agricultural improvements, than likely to keep us involved in Indian wars; let us enlarge our empire by the civilization of the Indians; who already have a better title to any of our un-located lands, than we can possibly give any new comers"
Boucher Jonathan quotes
"As for lawyers, they seemed to grow up spontaneously; many of the first name and note in that profession were men without any education, and totally illiterate. Such a state of society was peculiar, and could not but have peculiar effects; for no other body of men, nor all the other bodies of men put together, had half so much influence as the lawyers...."
Boucher
[Boucher admits that the use of slavery in the British colonies is better regulated than in other countries, but notes that:] "it is surely worse in this, that here, in one sense, it never can end. An African slave, even when made free, supposing him to be possessed even of talents and of virtue, can never, in these colonies, be quite on terms of equality with a free white man."
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