Scandals of Colonial Rule

Michael Widener

We are always delighted when our resources find their way into published works. The latest example is the new book by Professor James Epstein of Vanderbilt University, Scandal of Colonial Rule: Power and Subversion in the British Atlantic During the Age of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2012). As described by the publisher:

“In 1806 General Thomas Picton, Britain’s first governor of Trinidad, was brought to trial for the torture of a free mulatto named Louisa Calderon and for overseeing a regime of terror over the island’s slave population. James Epstein offers a fascinating account of the unfolding of this colonial drama. He shows the ways in which the trial and its investigation brought empire ‘home’ and exposed the disjuncture between a national self-image of humane governance and the brutal realities of colonial rule.”

 One of the illustrations in Scandal of Colonial Rule comes from our Rare Book Collection, specifically from The trial of Governor T. Picton: for inflicting the Torture on Louisa Calderon, a free mulatto, and one of His Britannic Majesty’s subjects in the island of Trinidad (London: B. Crosby and Co., 1806). It reproduces an image introduced as evidence in the trial; something of an innovation for the time. It shows Louisa Calderon on the picquet, a British military punishment. The judge, Lord Ellenborough, strongly objected to its introduction and only allowed it with the consent of the defense. Reproductions of the image inflamed public opinion against Col. Picton.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

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