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Summary The year marks the th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade by the British Parliament. The campaign for abolition was spearheaded by devout Christians, and it stands to this day as perhaps the finest political achievement of what would now be called faith-based activism.
But who were the abolitionists, and how did their Christianity motivate them to campaign against the slave trade? This paper examines the Christian mind of the abolitionists, and ponders the lessons for today. Introduction On 22 Maytwelve devout men assembled at a printing shop in the City of London.
Most were Quakers, but they were joined by several Anglicans, including the veteran anti-slavery campaigner, Granville Sharp, and the young Thomas Clarkson, who would devote his entire life to the cause. Charming, well connected, eloquent and Evangelical, Wilberforce proved an inspired choice.
He and his closest allies were fired with godly zeal for a righteous cause, and buoyed by an enormous swell of support from across the British Isles. The cause was promoted in a flood of publications: Within twenty years of that seminal meeting in the printing shop, the slave trade had been abolished throughout the Empire.
Inafter the greatest mass petitioning campaign in British history, Parliament abolished slavery itself in British dominions; five years later, inthe slaves were finally emancipated. By the s, slavery had been extinguished in the southern United States and across most of the earth.
Byaround three million slaves had been transported to the Americas on British ships. The trade was occasionally denounced by Christians. But most Christians in the early eighteenth century accepted slavery as a fact of life. The evangelist George Whitefield deplored the cruelty of slave-owners in the American South, but did not condemn slavery itself — indeed, he owned over fifty slaves in Georgia.
The Anglican Evangelical John Newton was converted while captaining a slave ship in the s, but he did not speak out against the trade until three decades later.
For most Britons the brutality of the slave trade was out of sight, out of mind. British slave-traders were carrying almost 40, slaves from Africa to the New World every single year, yet there was no public outcry.
Only gradually, from the mid-eighteenth century onwards, did a Christian abolitionist movement take shape. It began with American Quakers. As a perfectionist sect, the Quakers believed that true Christianity would be countercultural, but by the s many owned slaves. So tenacious were they in challenging their brethren that in the Philadelphia Quakers officially renounced the practice of slaveholding.
Slavery was also coming under attack from Enlightenment philosophers like Montesquieu and Rousseau, but it was Christian activists who initiated and organised an abolitionist movement.
From the s, the Anglican Evangelical Granville Sharp campaigned with some success in the courts on behalf of vulnerable black Britons — in the Somerset case ofLord Mansfield ruled that once in Britain, slaves could not be compelled to return to the colonies.
Increasingly, the horrors of this traffic in human beings were being exposed to public view — the most notorious atrocity involved the slave ship Zong, whose captain had thrown slaves overboard in order to claim insurance for their deaths.
Once the British Abolition Committee was established inabolitionism quickly became a mass movement. Thomas Clarkson had worked tirelessly to assemble damning evidence against the trade, and the abolitionists pioneered many of the tactics of modern pressure groups: There were even boycotts of consumer goods, as up toBritons stopped buying the rum and sugar that came from slave plantations in the Caribbean.
His own father, the famous theologian and revivalist, Jonathan Edwards Sr. But the practice could no longer be excused. Some emphasise the impact of cultural change and the new bourgeois cult of sensibility; others suggest that abolitionism albeit unwittingly served the interests of the new industrial capitalism; the most recent analysis argues that the key lies in the anxieties and dislocations created by the American Revolution.
If religious argument did not stir people to action, why did abolitionists give it so much space? For in publication after publication, critics of the slave trade quoted Scripture and rooted their campaign in Christian values and ideals.
In the rest of this paper, we will explore the theological ideas of the abolitionists, and consider the lessons for our own world. The mind of the abolitionists Christian abolitionists came from across the denominational spectrum and from various parts of the British Atlantic world.
Yet throughout their varied writings, a number of key themes appear again and again.
The Christian belief in the fundamental unity of the human race clashed with fashionable theories of polygenesis and African inferiority, promoted by infidel philosophers. Abolitionists pointed to the writings of accomplished Africans: See the 17th chapter of the Acts, verse Working out the logical implications of the text, Equiano argued in favour of racial intermarriage, and went on to marry Susannah Cullen of Soham in Cambridgeshire.
Because liberty was a gift of the Creator, men were not free to dispose of it by selling themselves into slavery, nor could they lawfully deprive anyone else of their liberty by force. Their argument had great appeal. O may that god-like deed, that shining page, Redeem our fame, and consecrate our age!Judge Sewall's Apology: The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of an American Conscience [Richard Francis] on rutadeltambor.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
The Salem witch hunt has entered our vocabulary as the very essence of injustice. Judge Samuel Sewall presided at these trials.
Print or Download. Summary. The year marks the th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade by the British Parliament.
The campaign for abolition was spearheaded by devout Christians, and it stands to this day as perhaps the finest political achievement of . Chris Froome: I have a clear conscience.
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Issue Edmund Plowden and the Rule of Law (Longmore, Andrew) 5. This was a Reading by Master Andrew Longmore, Autumn Reader It is reprinted with the kind permission of the Masters of the Bench of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.