The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery set itself the task of “universal emancipation” – that is of abolition worldwide, earning it the name of the first international human rights organization. At the outset the Society clashed in a number of schisms with rival activist groups. At a founding World Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840 the most lasting split between the London-based Society and the American followers of William Lloyd Garrison came. Garrison’s American supporters were radical in religious views, and in the participation of women in their movement. The BFASS refused to seat American women delegates at the Convention, causing uproar. As well as dividing from the main American anti-slavery society the BFASS clashed with other activists – notably the Chartists, who resented the abandonment of suffrage by the middle classes. Chartists demanded the BFASS condemn wage slavery. There were arguments, too, with “free traders”, who had supported abolition, but would not support import duties on slave-grown sugar the BFASS demanded.
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