Last Updated on September 16, 2022
In the last half-century, a great deal has been learned about the role of resistance and disobedience in the abolition of slavery. From individual acts of disobedience to massive uprisings, there are numerous examples of resistance. However, the ultimate goals of these acts are still open to debate. Let’s explore five key players who paved the way for the abolition of slavery.
William Wilberforce was born in Hull, England. He studied at Cambridge University and made friends with future Prime Minister William Pitt. He was a member of parliament for Yorkshire and hull, and later became a member of the clapham sect, which led the abolitionists. Wilberforce was only twenty-one years old when he started his work to abolish the slave trade in Britain.
Wilberforce’s life was filled with sacrifice and struggle. He was a dedicated and religious member of parliament who helped the slave trade come to an end in England. He was passionate about the plight of African slaves and worked to stop the trade. After his efforts, the law abolitioned slavery. He died in London, United Kingdom. Though he is best remembered for his work in abolishing slavery, Wilberforce’s contributions to humanity go far beyond his political career.
During the early years of slavery, revolts in the slave colonies were common and violent. The slave regime was based on the idea that black minds were un-rebellionable. Wilberforce and Pitt were completely opposed to slavery, as they believed that the majority of profits were generated by the French. But these fears were quickly dispelled as the slave revolts became fewer. Instead of relying on the ferocity of the slave rebellion, Wilberforce and Pitt reacted by abolishing slavery in the British colonies.
While many people believe that the end of slavery was inevitable, the truth is that the technological basis of slavery survived throughout history. In fact, the underlying social unacceptability of such shameful treatment of fellow humans eventually led to the end of slavery. In Saint Domingue, slavery would have lasted centuries, despite the fact that many people benefited from the system. But a few things led to the abolition of slavery in Saint Domingue.
The economic arguments offered by Adam Smith against slavery were based on the belief that the labor of slaves could not be as profitable as that of free labor. Forced servitude removes the motivation of economic agents to improve their condition and produce more goods. Instead, slaves seek to make their lives easier in the short term while shifting their costs to their master. Smith was wrong, and slavery remains a major problem today. While many of the economic arguments offered by Smith have been discredited, they do offer a solid framework for thinking about social justice in our time.
In his writings, Smith referred to slaves as “colliers.” However, he did not advocate for abolition for Africans in Scotland. His ideas about the nature of slavery and the difference between slaves and free labor were not widely accepted, and he seemed to harbor a deep pessimism toward the subject. However, Smith was extremely generous to slave masters. He argued that slave owners should not kill their slaves for pleasure or to take their property. They must be compensated for their labor.
As a morally repugnant force, the slave trade was an important part of the British Empire, which ultimately led to a global antislavery movement. The idea of slavery is utterly contradictory to market economies, which rely on voluntary exchange of labor. Smith’s analysis of the effects of slavery on economic activity is based on the idea that market economies are more efficient when people are free to exchange their labor.
Following his retirement from active service in the British Navy, Hugh Elliot entered the Foreign Office, where he became the Protector of Slaves in Guiana. In 1834, he was appointed Master Attendant to Lord Napier’s staff. From 1836 to 1841, he served as a Plenipotentiary and Chief Superintendent. He later served as a consul general in the Republic of Texas. After the death of Lord Lavington, he was appointed as the Governor of the Leeward Islands in the British West Indies.
Born in Saxony, he joined the Royal Navy in 1815, where he became a midshipman during the bombardment of Algiers by Barbary pirates. He served in the East Indies Station for four years before joining the West Africa Squadron in 1822. He rose to the rank of lieutenant, and was commissioned as a captain in 1828. In Haiti, he met Clara Windsor, whom he married shortly after his service was complete.
Later in his life, he fought in the Russian army. He was only 18 when he was forced to swim the Danube while holding the tail of a Cossack’s horse. But that didn’t stop him from working for free trade in the region. Eventually, he became the most respected man in the state and was appointed Governor of the British West Indies.
The abolitionist and Governor of the Leeward Islands was a major force in enforcing the Slave Trade Act. The book includes the details of how Elliot and Hodge’s trials were conducted, as well as contemporary accounts of enslavement, the Middle Passage, the work of the slaves, and religious beliefs. Upon the passage of time, he was made Privy Counsellor and Governor of Madras, where he remained until his death in 1820.
A British author and academic, Thomas Clarkson’s essay “On the Abolition of Slavery” won the first prize in the University of Cambridge’s 1785 history contest. He began questioning the inhumanity of slavery and the slave trade in the seventeen80s, after reading a Quaker book, “Historical Account of Guinea.”
By 1810, Clarkson had established an anti-slavery movement with a variety of tactics, including a wide array of nonconformist groups, Quakers, evangelicals, and many other groups and individuals. Through his extensive campaign, he was able to influence the public opinion of a large section of British society. He also lobbied MPs and collected petitions with huge numbers of signatures.
A staunch anti-slavery activist, Clarkson wrote several essays, and even ordained himself as a deacon. His essay, ‘On the Abolition of Slavery and the Commerce of the Human Species’, brought him into contact with William Wilberforce and Granville Sharp. He also joined forces with William Pitt and Charles James Fox, and his work drew the sympathy of other prominent British leaders.
A fellow Johnian, Thomas Clarkson played an important role in the abolition of slavery in the transatlantic slave trade. Clarkson was admitted to St. John’s College in 1779 and, later, won an essay prize in the University for his essay, ‘Anne liceat in servitutem dare?’ During the years that followed, Clarkson traveled to the various ports of Britain, collecting evidence on slave trade. After writing his essay, he lobbying William Wilberforce and the Royal Navy, slavery was finally abolished in 1807.
The Slave Trade Act passed in 1807 and made it illegal for British citizens to purchase slaves in the American colonies. After the act, Clarkson extended his anti-slavery campaign to Europe. France and Spain still sold slaves in American colonies. After the passage of the Act, the United States banned the international slave trade, but it did not completely ban the practice. However, Clarkson continued to write against slavery and campaign for its abolition.
Olaudah Equiano, an Ibo who fought for the abolition of slavery, was born in Benin as the youngest son of a village leader. As his mother’s favourite, he was expected to grow up as an elder, chief or judge. Yet, slavery had been a permanent feature of the Ibo culture, and Equiano’s family owned slaves. This left him alone and at risk of death.
Olaudah Equiano’s father was an enslaved African and the man was later a merchant, seafarer and explorer in the Caribbean, South America, and the Arctic. He fought against slavery throughout his life, eventually becoming involved in the abolitionist movement in London. His death in 1797, aged 52, was reported in American as well as British newspapers.
The abolitionist Olaudah Equiano was born in Africa and escaped from his masters in America. He sailed to England and was employed by naval surgeon Dr. Charles Irving. He helped him manage slaves in South America and became a friend and active member of the abolitionist group, the Sons of Africa. He also became a member of the Society for the Abolition of Slavery.
Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography, published in 1789, is one of the most widely read books about slavery. The book recounts the abolitionist’s life before and after the arrival of the British settlers. His book, The Slave Trade: The First Decade of the Modern Era, became a crucial tool for the abolition movement. In a way, Equiano helped abolish slavery by making it illegal for British slaves to go to the new world.
About The Author
Pat Rowse is a thinker. He loves delving into Twitter to find the latest scholarly debates and then analyzing them from every possible perspective. He's an introvert who really enjoys spending time alone reading about history and influential people. Pat also has a deep love of the internet and all things digital; she considers himself an amateur internet maven. When he's not buried in a book or online, he can be found hardcore analyzing anything and everything that comes his way.