How important was the growth in humanitarianism in the abolition of the slave trade?

  • Created by: becky.65
  • Created on: 16-05-17 20:00

Driving force behind the first thought of abolition

Came about from the Enlightenment:

  • challenged blind obedience to existing ideas
  • men should all have the same rights
  • challenged legitimacy of absolutism
  • industrialisation meant the welfare of many was getting ignored
  • people thought society was becoming too individualistic

1739 - Foundling Hospital


  • Took up the abolition cause - everyone was equal in the eyes of God
  • June 1783 - London Yearly Meeting - presented a petition to government signed by 273 people
  • Set up a 23-person committee to actively campaign for abolition
  • 1784 - 10,000 copies of their pamphlet were distributed to MPs, royal family and general public
  • Brought attention to abolition and motivated others to challenge the slave trade
  • Moral crusade which quickly found supporters
  • In Britain it was still fashionable to have black servants even though slavery was abolished in 1772
  • 1785 - inspired other religious groups to get involved

Evangelical Christians:

  • Sharp and Clarkson were prominant activists 
  • Sharp was a veteran campaigner
  • Clarkson was inspired by his essay that he published in 1786 - became very influential
  • They used public speaking to spread the message
  • Clarkson enouraged Wilberforce to join…


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