Scope and Contents
This collection is comprised of the two volume, handwritten manuscript of Thomas Clarkson's "The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave Trade." In it, Clarkson describes the Quaker influence in the abolitionist movement in Britain and the parliamentary debates leading to the Slave Trade Act of 1807. The manuscript describes both the arguments in support and in opposition to abolition, and the actions of the members of the abolition movement. Volume 1 contains the early history of the abolition movement until July, 1788, and volume two describes the abolition movement from 1789 to 1808. The manuscript includes edits throughout.
Thomas Clarkson (1760–1846) was a leading campaigner against slavery and the African slave trade. He was born in 1760, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, England, the son of John Clarkson. After graduating from St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1783, Clarkson, along with Granville Sharp (1735–1813), founded the Committee for the Abolition of the African Slave Trade in 1787, which increased popular support for abolition and was the main campaigner behind the abolition of the slave trade. Clarkson prepared pamphlets from his travels to raise public awareness and support in their fight against the slave trade. In 1807, Great Britain enacted a bill prohibiting the importation of slaves. The next year Clarkson published "The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament." Clarkson married Catherine Buck and the couple had a son, Thomas (1796-1837). Clarkson, along with Wilberforce, joined to campaign for the end of slavery and both served as vice presidents for the Anti-Slavery Society, also called the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions. In 1833, slavery was abolished in the United Kingdom with the Slavery Abolition Act, but Clarkson continued to work towards emancipation in the United States until his death in 1846.