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Emigration Fields (1839)


Emigration Fields (1839) is a review of foreign lands that were available at the time for colonization by British settlers. Matthew advocated colonization via mass emigration both as a solution to the growing overpopulation of Britain (especially its working classes) and for the betterment of “savage races” in need of civilization. New Zealand is singled out as being particularly favourable.

The book came out at the same time as Matthew was actively engaged in the Chartist movement for Universal Suffrage, and the two were linked in the sense that Matthew saw both efforts as helping to improve the condition of the British working class families. After Matthew resigned from the Chartist National Convention in April 1839, he remained committed to the idea of emigration, and in August 1839 he published a Prospectus of the Scots New Zealand Company setting out his plans to form a company to buy land in New Zealand and help Scotsmen emigrate there. The company was formed later in 1839, with Matthew as its Chairman.

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