Essay The Corpse Of William Robinson

2266 Words Nov 25th, 2014 null Page
One evening in March 1868, the corpse of William Robinson, a black settler on Saltspring Island, was discovered in his cabin.1 The colonial authorities determined that he had been murdered.2 The trial that followed resulted in the execution of an Indian named Tom. Though executed, the court’s handling of the case is problematic due to clear witness and evidence tampering as well as the prevalent racial biases held at the time. These flaws would have rendered the court’s decision to convict and execute Tom for the murder of Robinson null and void. In light of the major errors committed by the court, Tom would receive a retrial.

In examining the case of William Robinson one must begin with a clear understanding of the circumstances of the times. A native of New Jersey, Robinson had joined in the mass exodus of Blacks escaping persecution in the United States of America to British North America.3 Partly due to its need for non-Aboriginal settlers, the colony of Vancouver Island was particularly sympathetic to the plight of the Blacks in America. Realising their opportunity, the Blacks answered Governor Douglas’ calls and settled on Vancouver Island in 1858.4 Like many immigrant populations, the Blacks created predominately Black communities, like on Saltspring Island, east of Vancouver Island.5 On Saltspring Island Robinson was able to claim land, and later purchase it at a reduced price in a process then known as “preemption.” Residing mostly on the Northern part of…

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