01 Augustus 2007
Famous & Not-So-Famous Abolitionists
- James Aguer
The Anti-Slavery Award Winner in 2006.
Since the late 1980's James has been actively involved in seeking, identifying and securing the release of Dinka children and woman abducted from their homes in Southern Sudan and forced into slavery.
- Thomas Clarkson (1760 - 1846)
He was born in Wisbech in 1760. While a student at Cambridge in 1785, he won an essay prize with the title "Is it lawful to enslave the unconsenting?" He was appalled and challenged by what he discovered - and it changed his life. He also researched the topic by meeting and interviewing those who had personal experience of the slave trade.
After winning the prize, Clarkson experienced what he called a spiritual revelation from God as he travelled on horseback between Cambridge and London. having broken his journey at Wadesmill, near Ware , Hertfordshire : A thought came into my mind", he wrote, that if the contents of the Essay were true, it was time some person should see these calamities to their end (Clarkson, History , vol. 1). It was this experience that 'ordered' him to devote his life to abolishing the trade.
- Cecelia Flores-Oebanda
The Anti Slavery Award Winner in 2005.
Cecilia is form the Phillipines and was herself a child labourer, selling fish and scavenging. In 1991 Cecilia started Visayan Forum to work for the rights of migrant workers, especially hidden and vulnerable groups such as child domestic workers and trafficked women and children.
- Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797)
He was born in what is now Nigeria. Kidnapped and sold into slavery in childhood and taken as a slave to the New World. He eventually earned the price of his own freedom by careful trading and saving. Coming to London, he became involved in the movement to abolish the slave trade, an involvement which led to him writing and publishing The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African (1789) a strongly abolitionist autobiography. The book became a bestseller and he was also a powerful speaker for the anti-slavery cause.
- Elizabeth Heyrick (1769 - 1831)
Women played a prominent role in the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Elizabeth was a Quaker from leicester who organised a sugar boycott and also established women anti-slavery groups around the country. She wrote a significant pamphlet called Immediate not Gradual Abolition.
- Samuel Sharpe (1801 - 1832)
'Sam' was a National Hero of Jamaica and was a slave throughout his life. Sharpe was a Deacon at the Burchell Baptist Church in Montego Bay. He spent most of his time educating the slaves about Christianity and freedom.
In the mistaken belief that emancipation had already been granted by the British Parliament, Sharpe organised a peaceful strike across many estates in western Jamaica. Reprisals by the plantation owners led to the rebels burning the crops, but the slaves did not attack the white population. The rebellion was put down by the Jamaican militia within two weeks and many of the ringleaders, including Sharpe, were hanged in 1832. The rebellion caused two detailed Parliamentary Inquiries which contributed to the 1833 Abolition of Slavery across the British Empire.
- François Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture (1743-1803)
Haitian general, and leader of the independence movement against France. Born of slave parents near Cap-Français, St-Domingue (now Cap-Haïtien, Haiti), Toussaint was self-educated. He was doctor to the insurgent army during the black slave uprising of 1791 against the French planters in St-Domingue. He was given the name L'Ouverture (the opening) in 1793 after a series of lightning campaigns that led France to abolish slavery in the territory (1794). Toussaint supported the French rulers of the island against the Spanish and British invasion of 1793 and was made a general in 1795. Five years later he made himself governor-general of St-Domingue, and in 1801 succeeded in liberating it from the French. He proceeded to reorganize the government of the island and institute civic improvements. In 1802 the French Emperor Napoleon I, better known as Napoleon Bonaparte, sent troops under the command of his brother-in-law, General Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc, to reassert French control. Toussaint was defeated, captured, and accused of conspiracy. He was taken to France, where he was imprisoned and died the next year. He is honoured today as one of the founders and heroes of Haiti.
- William Wilberforce (1759-1833)
British statesman and reformer, who led the movement for the abolition of the slave trade. Born in Hull where in 1780 he was elected to Parliament for Hull.
Following his conversion in 1784 he became associated with the reform activities of the Clapham sect. The fight to abolish the slave trade soon attracted Wilberforce and he became the movement's chief spokesman in the House of Commons. In 1787 he became a member of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade and in 1807 Wilberforce finally secured enactment of legislation prohibiting the trade. He later joined the struggle for the complete abolition of slavery.
Ten things you need to know before 2007