Phenomenon Of Slavery In American And Abolitionist

1747 words - 7 pages

After years of campaign by some sections of British society, the Anti-Slavery Abolition Act was finally passed by the Prime-Minister Earl Grey's Whig government in 1833. This was a great result for the many slave trade demonstrators, such as William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson, who had been part of the Anti-Slavery Society from 1923 and who had been fighting for this result throughout the previous decades. However, slavery had been a fashion of human life for thousands of years and had become a beneficial part of the British Empire so why did Britain's authorities bring along measures to have its existence eradicated?British colonies had witnessed the ordeal of the slave trade since the 16th century when the first black slave ships were transported to America from the African coastlines. Along with other European colonial powers such as Portugal and Holland, it is estimated that up to eleven million Africans were taken across the Atlantic in the atrocious state of the slave ships up until the latter parts of the 19th century. (327)The first real campaign against the slave trade within Britain came from about the 1780's, where religious objectors such as the Quakers and Methodists spoke out against this imprisonment of men with petitions submitted the Parliament. These efforts were insignificant though, with a lack of support and financial backing damaging their protest. This initial wave of protest led to a more organized anti-slavery movement in the form of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, set up in May 1787. Now, solicitous Britons had a means of communication and a chance to voice their complaints on the harmful effects of slavery in the form of books, pamphlets and even artefacts. (489) Thomas Clarkson, a travel operator, was a major contestant in this movement, providing the link between the society's base in London and the rest of the country; in the process aiding hundreds of underground activists.What was remarkable about these protests was that some middle classes fought along side the poor in their attempt to ban slavery. This had never been seen before. For example Granville Sharpe, an educated writer employed in a minor role by the government, fought on behalf of black people in court throughout the late 18th century. In contrast to this the working classes, predominantly found in the northern industrial areas, took time out from the daily struggle of their lives to assist the cause also. These different activists concluded two nationwide petitions; one in 1788 collecting over 100 signatures attacking the slave trade and one in 1792 with 519 signatures being presented to the House of Commons. This 1792 appeal actually became the largest number of complaints submitted in Parliament in one single session, quite impressively with every English county represented. (612)Back in Britain, through the influence and high standing of William Wilberforce who helped lead the mass petition, the House of Commons resulted by 230...

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