British Antislavery Influence, 1770-1865

Document Collections

THE RELIGIOUS DIMENSION OF BRITISH ANTISLAVERY INFLUENCE, 1770-1865

The first collection highlights the religious principles that informed and influenced the long-running collaboration between antislavery advocates in the United States and Great Britain.  It includes the writings of Reverend John Wesley, Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson, James Montgomery, Elizabeth Heyrick, Reverend D. Wilson, Charles Stuart, George Thompson and Elizabeth Pease, all from Great Britain.  Representing the American perspective are documents from Anthony Benezet, Wendell Phillips, Orville Dewey, Frederick Douglass and the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (AFASS).  This collection also documents the trans-Atlantic dialogue between British and American church leaders on the subject of slavery, with a focus on three denominations:  Quaker, Baptist and Unitarian.  The associated correspondence and publications suggest ways in which British religious institutions influenced the contentious discussions regarding slavery that took place in American churches during the 1830s and 1840s. 

BRITISH INFLUENCE ON BLACK AMERICANS IN THE ANTISLAVERY MOVEMENT, 1820-1865

The second collection addresses the substantial collaboration between black American abolitionists and British antislavery advocates that occurred between 1820 and 1865.  It includes correspondence between these two groups as well as letters sent back to the United States by American black antislavery leaders during trips made to Great Britain for the purpose of lecturing, networking and fundraising.  It also includes a reprint, published in a black American newspaper named Freedom's Journal, of a British antislavery publication entitled Thoughts on British Colonial Slavery.   Among the authors of this collection's documents are Americans Frederick Douglass, James McCune Smith, Charles L. Remond and William G. Allen.

BRITISH AND AMERICAN WOMEN IN THE ANTISLAVERY MOVEMENT, 1830-1865

The third collection parallels the second in illuminating the important role played by women, both British and American, in the trans-Atlantic antislavery effort.  It focuses on Elizabeth Pease and Harriet Martineau.  Elizabeth Pease primarily influenced the American antislavery movement through her correspondence with Sarah and Angelina Grimké (Weld), among others.  Harriet Martineau's influence was more widespread since she wrote multiple antislavery pamphlets that were published and sold in the United States, including Society in America (1837) and The Martyr Age in the United States of America (1839).  This collection also includes Elizabeth Heyrick's seminal work on immediate emancipation. 

AMERICAN RESPONSES TO BRITISH ANTISLAVERY INFLUENCE, 1810-1865


The fourth collection documents several American reactions to British intervention in the American slavery debate.  It includes documents from Americans Robert Walsh, T.R. Sullivan, Dr. Simms, Orville Dewey, J.H. Hammond and the AFASS, as well as articles and editorials from several American newspapers.  Though this collection contains more negative responses than positive ones, this weighting is not meant to suggest that a negative bias toward British antislavery influence prevailed in the United States.  This is a large and important historical question that would require a great deal of research. 

THE SCHISM - THE BRITISH SIDE WITH THE AMERICAN AND FOREIGN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY, 1840-1865


The fifth collection focuses on the role of British antislavery advocates in the schism that occurred in 1840 between the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) and the AFASS.  As the collection title indicates, in general, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS) aligned itself with the AFASS, thus alienating William Lloyd Garrison and the AASS, an organization British leaders had helped to establish and grow.  During this era, a small number of British antislavery advocates remained loyal to the AASS, the most notable of whom was George Thompson.  From Great Britain, the document authors include George Alexander, J.B. Estlin, Harriet Martineau, John Scoble, Charles Stuart and the BFASS.  Documents are also included from Americans Frederick Douglass, Charles Lenox Remond and John A. Collins, the AASS’s officer in Great Britain.

 

Document Collections

THE RELIGIOUS DIMENSION OF BRITISH ANTISLAVERY INFLUENCE, 1770-1865

Initial Correspondence between Granville Sharp (British) and Anthony Benezet – 1772

Thoughts upon Slavery by Reverend John Wesley (British) – 1774

Letter from Granville Sharp to the Maryland Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery by Granville Sharp (British) – 1793

The West Indies, A Poem, in Four Parts, Written in Honor of the Abolition of the African Slave Trade by the British Legislature, in 1807 by James Montgomery (British) – 1812

Immediate, not Gradual Abolition by Elizabeth Heyrick (British) – 1824 (1838 version)

Thoughts on British Colonial Slavery by Rev. D. Wilson, Vicar of Islington (British) - 1828; republished in a black American newspaper

The West India Question…an Outline for Immediate Emancipation by Charles Stuart (British) – 1832 (1833 version)

Correspondence between British Baptists and American Baptists on the Subject of Slavery - 1833-1840

Two Letters from British Quakers to American Quakers - 1834-5

"Fast Day" Lecture by George Thompson (British) at a Methodist Meeting House in Boston - 1835

Correspondence between Elizabeth Pease (British) and Angelina Grimké – 1836-1839

Letter from Wendell Phillips to George Thompson (British) – 1839

Letter to the Clergy of Various Denominations, and to the Slave-Holding Planters, in the Southern Parts of the United States of America by Thomas Clarkson (British) – 1841

Letter from Charles Stuart (British) to Theodore Weld Encouraging him to Join the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (AFASS) – 1843

An Address from the Undersigned Unitarian Ministers of Great Britain and Ireland, to their Ministerial Brethren of the Unitarian Churches of the United States of America - 1843

REACTION: Excerpt from American Morals and Manners by Unitarian minister Orville Dewey - 1844; defends America against antislavery criticisms like the 1843 address by British and Irish Unitarian ministers

Thomas Clarkson to the Christian and Well-Disposed Citizens of the Northern States of America by Thomas Clarkson (British) – 1844 (1845 version)

REACTION: Governor Hammond’s Letters on Southern Slavery: Addressed to Thomas Clarkson by J.H. Hammond – 1845

REACTION: Protest against American Slavery, by one hundred and seventy-three Unitarian Ministers - 1845; the product of a debate caused by the 1843 address from British and Irish Unitarian ministers

"Responsibility" by Elizabeth Pease (British) published in The Liberty Bell - 1845

Letter from Frederick Douglass in London to William Lloyd Garrison - 1846

Frederick Douglass's Farewell Speech to the British People, at London Tavern - 1847

REACTION: Remonstrance against the Course Pursued by the Evangelical Alliance on the Subject of American Slavery by the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (AFASS) - 1847

George Thompson's (British) Speech at Faneuil Hall in Boston - 1851

 

British Influence on Black Americans in the Antislavery Movement, 1820-1865

British Antislavery Letter to a Black American Newspaper - 1827

Thoughts on British Colonial Slavery by Rev. D. Wilson, Vicar of Islington (British) - 1828; republished in a black American newspaper

Letter from George Thompson (British) to Robert Purvis – 1834

Letter from John Murray (British) and William Smeal (British) to James McCune Smith - 1837

Letter from Charles Lenox Remond to Charles B. Ray regarding the General Anti-Slavery Convention in London - 1840

Letter from Charles Lenox Remond to Francis Jackson regarding the General Anti-Slavery Convention in London - 1840

Letter from Frederick Douglass in London to William Lloyd Garrison - 1846

Frederick Douglass's Farewell Speech to the British People, at London Tavern - 1847

Letter from William G. Allen in London to William Lloyd Garrison - 1853

 

British and American Women in the Antislavery Movement, 1830-1865

Immediate, not Gradual Abolition by Elizabeth Heyrick (British) – 1824 (1838 version)

Correspondence between Elizabeth Pease (British) and Angelina Grimké (Weld) – 1836-1839

“Morals of Slavery” in Society in America by Harriett Martineau (British) – 1837

The Martyr Age in the United States of America by Harriett Martineau (British) – 1839

Debate regarding the Admission of American Female Delegates to the General Anti-Slavery Convention in London - 1840

Letter from Harriett Martineau (British) to Elizabeth Pease (British) in Support of William Lloyd Garrison and the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) – 1841

Letter from Sarah Grimké to Elizabeth Pease (British) – 1842

"Responsibility" by Elizabeth Pease (British) published in The Liberty Bell - 1845

 

American Responses to British Antislavery Influence, 1810-1865

REACTION:  Excerpt from Horrors of Slavery by John Kenrick – 1817; demonstrates the influence of the British antislavery movement in the U.S.

REACTION: Excerpt from Appeal from the Judgments of Great Britain respecting the United States of America by Robert Walsh - 1819; defends against British criticisms of American slavery

REACTION: "Pretence and Reality" - 1823; an American editorial that defends against British antislavery criticisms

REACTION: "Cant-Cant-Cant" - 1825; an American editorial that defends against British antislavery criticisms

REACTION:  Mob Response to Charles Stuart's (British) Speaking Tour - 1834

REACTION: Letter to the Editor of the Boston Recorder Criticizing an Article on the Boston Mob that Tried to Attack George Thompson (British) - 1835

REACTION: Letters Against the Immediate Abolition of Slavery Addressed to the Free Blacks of the Non-Slaveholding States by T.R. Sullivan – 1835; American response to George Thompson’s (British) promotion of immediate emancipation

REACTION: Positive Review of Harriet Martineau’s (British) Society in America in the Plain Dealer – 1837

REACTION: Pro-Slavery Response to Harriet Martineau’s (British) Society in America by Dr. Simms – 1837

REACTION: Excerpt from American Morals and Manners by Unitarian minister Orville Dewey - 1844; defends America against antislavery criticisms like the 1843 address by British and Irish Unitarian ministers

REACTION: Protest against American Slavery, by one hundred and seventy-three Unitarian Ministers - 1845; the product of a debate caused by the 1843 address from British and Irish Unitarian ministers

REACTION: Governor Hammond’s Letters on Southern Slavery: Addressed to Thomas Clarkson by J.H. Hammond – 1845

REACTION: Remonstrance against the Course Pursued by the Evangelical Alliance on the Subject of American Slavery by the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (AFASS) - 1847

REACTION:  Criticism of the Boston Mob that Disrupted George Thompson's (British) Speech at Faneuil Hall - 1851; published in a Chicago newspaper

REACTION:  Negative Response to George Thompson's (British) Speech at Faneuil Hall - 1851; published in a Virginia newspaper

 

The Schism - The British Side with the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1840-1865

Letter from Charles Lenox Remond to Francis Jackson regarding the General Anti-Slavery Convention in London - 1840

Letter from George Alexander (British) to James Haughton (Irish) Defending the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society's (BFASS) Stance on the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) – 1840

Letters from J.A. Collins, American Anti-Slavery Agent in London, to Maria Weston Chapman and William Lloyd Garrison Describing Diminishing British Support – 1840

Letter from the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS) to J.A. Collins Expressing Disapproval of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) – 1841

Letter from Harriett Martineau (British) to Elizabeth Pease (British) in Support of William Lloyd Garrison and the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) – 1841

Letter from Charles Stuart (British) to Theodore Weld Encouraging him to Join the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (AFASS) – 1843

Criticism of William Lloyd Garrison by J.B. Estlin (British) with a Rebuttal from Samuel May – 1846

Letter from Frederick Douglass in London to William Lloyd Garrison - 1846

Letter from John Scoble (British) to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS) Affirming Support for the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (AFASS) – 1853

 

Footnotes

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