• CLOSED
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
National Army Museum
  • CLOSED
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

Establishing the West India Regiments

A private of the 8th West India Regiment, c1803

Professor David Lambert discusses the establishment of the West India Regiments and explores the debates that surrounded their formation.

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The West India Regiments were established as part of the British Army in the 1790s. At the time, the British were engaged in the Revolutionary Wars against France, and facing a military and health crisis in the Caribbean.

While not the original intention, the regiments came to be dominated by soldiers purchased from merchants trading in enslaved Africans, a highly controversial action. There were fears among the West Indian colonists that creating permanent units of men of African descent would endanger them and the system from which they profited. Supporters of the regiments worked to push back against these claims and promote the image of their black soldiers. 

Join Professor David Lambert as he discusses both the political and legal debates around the establishment of the West India Regiments, as well as the wider ‘propaganda war’ fought over the soldiers. 

This talk is part of a programme of events in support of our West Indian Soldier exhibition.

David Lambert is Professor of History and Director of the Humanities Research Centre at the University of Warwick. His has published widely on slavery and empire in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as their legacies, focusing on the Caribbean and its place in the wider (Atlantic) world. He is currently writing a book on the changing image of the West India Regiments over the ‘long’ 19th century. He is an editor of the journal 'Slavery & Abolition' and former editor of 'Atlantic Studies: Global Currents'. 

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"First time @NAM_London today. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thought the presentation & interpretation made the subject accessible..."