Modern London’s richness was a result of Britain’s involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade from the 16th century. It was a centre for abolition—the mass popular movement against the enslavement of Africans, which grew throughout the late 18th century. London played a major role in establishing Britain as the world’s greatest slave trafficking power. It was from London that some of the earliest slave traffickers, such as John Hawkins set out in the mid 16th century. Soon enough, in the early 17th century more companies with the involvement of the slave trade were all based in London.
Owning an African slave was the height of fashion, and a symbol of wealth and status during the late 17th and 18th centuries in London. London was a major port which constantly sends slaves to Africa and the Americas. The city handled most of the sugar and other slave-produced goods that are imported into the country. It was also the financial centre of the trade and economies thanks to its colonies in the Americas. Opposition to slavery was common in London and but only started growing throughout the 18th century. Between the 17-18th century, enslaved Africans tried freeing themselves by running away from their owners, though once they did that, posters of ‘lost property,’ were be posted by their owners.
Some Africans helped each other to escape and sometimes, they’re aided by the commoners in London. It was through one of those aiding that abolitionist Granville Sharp (one of the most famous abolitionists in England/though-out history) met the slave Jonathan Strong. From then on, Granville Sharp started involving in the abolitionist movement. His campaign against enslavement and trafficking started with the help of Africans (African slaves) and their supporters in London. By the 1780s Africans in London had formed their political organization, called the Sons of Africa, and they collaborated with many other abolitionists. As time progressed, more and more abolition organizations were formed such as “The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade”, led by Thomas Clarkson in 1787. But the campaigns where most changes were made due to it were ones of the 1780 and early 1790s.
During that time, the movement against slavery was linked with the fight for political rights for people of the working class in Britain. Public debates, sometimes held by Africans were also held in London. Many people also refused to purchase any slave produced products such as sugar, which isn’t the best news towards the economics around the world (not just in the UK). With these growing activities plus the participation of Londoners’ refusal towards slave-produced sugar and the appealing parliament in the late 18th century, a large amount of support was gained in London for an end to slavery and the trafficking of Africans. As previously mentioned, opposition to slavery wasn’t a new concept when abolitionism started. Since the establishment of the Atlantic slave trade in the 16th century, people have voiced their disapproval of the system.
Though despite its brutality and inhumanity, the protests of the system never really begun till the 18th century, when people began to criticize it for its violation of human rights, and religious groups it for its un-Christian qualities. This means that around times like the late 17th century, there is barely any abolitionists towards slavery. Thus can be said that my role as an abolitionist in 17th century London, will be a bit hard and there will be opposition towards my role. My character then shall be someone with the minds like Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson except more persuasive and with less “supported”. She shall be a determined person who would have to show how inhumane slavery is and voice her protests loudly.
Eventually, the end of British trade in slaves was achieved by the “Slave Trade Act of 1807” with the help of “The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade” founded by Thomas Clarkson. The abolitionist movement in the US happened later than the movement in Britain and it mimicked some of the same tactics British abolitionists had used to end slavery in Great Britain in the 1830s. Abolitionism started as a movement with religious support, but very soon, it became a controversial issue—a controversial political issue that divided the US. The ultimate end of slavery in America was eventually brought by the civil war.
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