British Abolitionists

In the late eighteenth century, the colonial slave trade drew criticism in England, giving a few former slaves a platform to voice their grievances. In his self-published narrative, Olaudah Equiano recounts the injustices of enslavement, in which he participated both as slave and owner. In his portrait, he holds a passage of scripture to indicate the importance of religion to him and to the debate.

The conversion of enslaved Africans put Christian owners in a morally ambiguous position. Abolitionists in England and the colonies also pointed out the contradiction between Revolutionary demands for freedom and the slaveholding practice of many of the Founding Fathers. The new republic sacrificed the freedom of southern slaves to preserve the fragile new union.

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Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African/ Written by Himself.

London: Printed and Sold for the Author by T. Wilkins, 1789. Gift of Emily O. Kornfield (CT2750 .E7 1789)

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[Hannah More, attribution], The Sorrow of Yamba.

London: J. Marshal, [1795?]. Purchased with the Robert and Virginia Tunstall Trust Fund (PR3991 .A1 S67 1795)

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The arrival of enslaved people from Africa in John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Suriname….

London: J. Johnson, 1796. Gift of Barnard Shipp (F2410 .S81 1796)

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“Voyage to Havana 1816” by Stirling Murray, 26 May 1816.

Deposited by Bertrand Bratney (MSS 8557-a)