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Jonathan M. Yeager

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199916955

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199916955.001.0001

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The Unlawfulness of Enslaving Humans

The Unlawfulness of Enslaving Humans

Chapter:
(p.322) 50 The Unlawfulness of Enslaving Humans
Source:
Early Evangelicalism
Author(s):

Thomas Clarkson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199916955.003.0051

This chapter presents excerpts from Thomas Clarkson's An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African (1786). In 1785, Clarkson won the Latin prize for an essay writing competition that tackled the topic: “Is it lawful to enslave the unconsenting?” To answer the proposed question, Clarkson studied the Atlantic slave trade, reading books on the subject such as the Quaker Anthony Benezet's Historical Account of Guinea (1771). Clarkson's research for this essay changed the course of his life. After winning the competition, Clarkson experienced conversion, gave up his quest to become a clergyman, and dedicated his life to ending the slave trade. His Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species significantly led to a formal anti-slavery lobbying committee spearheaded by William Wilberforce.

Keywords:   slavery, Thomas Clarkson, essay, slave trade, Anthony Benezet, Historical Account of Guinea, conversion, William Wilberforce

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