The Quest for the Abolition of Slavery (by Andrea)


slave uprisings

1736 - 1761

Slave uprisings become more and more frequent

Granville Sharp begins his career in abolition

1765 - 1767

Getting out of surgery one day in 1765, Sharp saw a black man, a slave, stumbling in and trying to get surgery; he had been beaten by his owner. Sharp got him fixed up and gave him a job as a coach footman. Two years later the man's former owner got him kidnapped and jailed. Sharp fought back and had the man rescued.

'Thoughts Upon Slavery' published


Father of the Methodist movement John Wesley became the first major religious leader in Britain to denounce slavery.

Abolitionist numbers rise

1783 - 1787

Due to increased stories of atrocities committed regarding slaves and the slavery debate getting more and more publicity, more and more influential abolitionists were brought into the fight. Among them were Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce.

Evidence is found


Thomas Clarkson travels the country to gather evidence against slavery. He comes back with many a crude tool used by the slave drivers and slave ship captains.
Josiah Wedgwood, a famous potter, designs a seal for the abolitionist movement.

Former slaves speak out


Former black slaves write letters to local London newspapers thanking white abolitionists for their benevolence and work. Among them is Quobna Ottobah Cugoano, an ex-slave that published a book denouncing slavery.

Anti-slavery committe formed

May 22, 1787

Meeting in a Quaker run bookstore and consisting largely of Quakers (9 out of the 12 members were Quakers) the influential anti-slavery committee was created.

Movement gains support

January 1788

Petition signed by 10, 000 against the slave trade, an astonishing 20% of Manchester's population. By the end of 1788 more than 60, 000 British people would sign such petitions.

Cases in court - anti-slavery vs. pro-slavery

1788 - 1791

Several years of hearings before parliament and the Privy Council began in England. In this time the pro-slavery lobbyists started to get more organized, arguing that the entire plantation economy would collapse without slaves. They went so far as to argue how contented the slaves were when going overseas.

Anti-slavery movement becomes infectious


Along with the rise in popularity of the plight of African slaves, workers rights and women's rights became hot topics as well.

Boycotting Sugar

1791 - 1792

At least 300, 000 Britons either stop eating sugar entirely, or only eat sugar coming from India. This was majorly a decision made by the women.

Climax of outcries


In the span of a few weeks, 519 petitions aganist the slave trade are signed by over 390, 000 people. Only 4 pro-slavery petitions arrived at parliament.

Slave trade almost banned...but not quite

April 3, 1792

The British House of Commons passes a bill banning the slave trade; only to take effect in four years time. This doesn't go through, though, as the House of Lords refuses to pass the bill.

Movement put on hold

1793 - 1798

A conflict in what is now Haiti between the France and British is paired with slave uprisings in Haiti and surrounding areas. The anti-slavery movement is reignited in 1806 with a fervor.

Slave trade abolished


British parliament finally outlaws the slave trade. The thought was that slavery would wither away after a while due to high death rates and no resources to replenish the supply of slaves. This was not so, as the population of slaves actually grew.

Slavery abolished (finally)

July 31, 1833

After more and more uprisings, one of which being the largest uprising ever on British territory in Jamaica, Parliament finally abolished slavery. Slaves, now free, would begin a 6-year apprenticeship starting in 1834, which was shortened to 4 years soon after.

Slaves are free

August 1, 1838

At midnight on August 1, 1838, all slaves in the the British empire are legally free. This, in the long run, didn't improve conditions for former slaves at all.