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Quakers and Abolition$
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Brycchan Carey and Geoffrey Plank

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038266

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038266.001.0001

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The Slave Trade, Quakers, and the Early Days of British Abolition

The Slave Trade, Quakers, and the Early Days of British Abolition

(p.165) 11 The Slave Trade, Quakers, and the Early Days of British Abolition
Quakers and Abolition

James Walvin

University of Illinois Press

This chapter assesses the Quaker impact on the early British anti-slave trade campaign and, in particular, the influence Quaker writings and networks had on the early career of Thomas Clarkson. Clarkson pioneered the abolitionists' research into the slave trade and the slave ships. It was his empirical investigations among slave captains, sailors, and slave ship rosters that teased out the hard facts and figures about life—and more important, of death—on board the slave ships. In the wake of his pioneering investigations, discussion about the slave trade switched to a detailed analysis of the data. Clarkson and subsequent abolitionists ensured that the debate about abolition was not merely a recitation of moral outrage or religious disapproval but more about the facts. And once those facts were rehearsed in public, they proved irresistible. It was the hard evidence, culled from the belly of the slave ships, that both shocked and persuaded.

Keywords:   Quaker, Thomas Clarkson, British anti-slave trade campaign, antislavery, abolition, slave ships, slave trade

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