Anti-Slavery Society

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For the abolitionist organization active in the United States, see American Anti-Slavery Society.
Isaac Crewdson (Beaconite) writer Samuel Jackman Prescod - Barbadian Journalist William Morgan from Birmingham William Forster - Quaker leader George Stacey - Quaker leader William Forster - Anti-Slavery ambassador John Burnet -Abolitionist Speaker William Knibb -Missionary to Jamaica Joseph Ketley from Guyana George Thompson - UK & US abolitionist J. Harfield Tredgold - British South African (secretary) Josiah Forster - Quaker leader Samuel Gurney - the Banker's Banker Sir John Eardley-Wilmot Dr Stephen Lushington - MP and Judge Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton James Gillespie Birney - American John Beaumont George Bradburn - Massachusetts politician George William Alexander - Banker and Treasurer Benjamin Godwin - Baptist activist Vice Admiral Moorson William Taylor William Taylor John Morrison GK Prince Josiah Conder Joseph Soul James Dean (abolitionist) John Keep - Ohio fund raiser Joseph Eaton Joseph Sturge - Organiser from Birmingham James Whitehorne Joseph Marriage George Bennett Richard Allen Stafford Allen William Leatham, banker William Beaumont Sir Edward Baines - Journalist Samuel Lucas Francis August Cox Abraham Beaumont Samuel Fox, Nottingham grocer Louis Celeste Lecesne Jonathan Backhouse Samuel Bowly William Dawes - Ohio fund raiser Robert Kaye Greville - Botanist Joseph Pease, railway pioneer W.T.Blair M.M. Isambert (sic) Mary Clarkson -Thomas Clarkson's daughter in law William Tatum Saxe Bannister - Pamphleteer Richard Davis Webb - Irish Nathaniel Colver - American not known John Cropper - Most generous Liverpudlian Thomas Scales William James William Wilson Thomas Swan Edward Steane from Camberwell William Brock Edward Baldwin Jonathon Miller Capt. Charles Stuart from Jamaica Sir John Jeremie - Judge Charles Stovel - Baptist Richard Peek, ex-Sheriff of London John Sturge Elon Galusha Cyrus Pitt Grosvenor Rev. Isaac Bass Henry Sterry Peter Clare -; sec. of Literary & Phil. Soc. Manchester J.H. Johnson Thomas Price Joseph Reynolds Samuel Wheeler William Boultbee Daniel O'Connell - "The Liberator" William Fairbank John Woodmark William Smeal from Glasgow James Carlile - Irish Minister and educationalist Rev. Dr. Thomas Binney Edward Barrett - Freed slave John Howard Hinton - Baptist minister John Angell James - clergyman Joseph Cooper Dr. Richard Robert Madden - Irish Thomas Bulley Isaac Hodgson Edward Smith Sir John Bowring - diplomat and linguist John Ellis C. Edwards Lester - American writer Tapper Cadbury - Businessman not known Thomas Pinches David Turnbull - Cuban link Edward Adey Richard Barrett John Steer Henry Tuckett James Mott - American on honeymoon Robert Forster (brother of William and Josiah) Richard Rathbone John Birt Wendell Phillips - American M. L'Instant from Haiti Henry Stanton - American Prof William Adam Mrs Elizabeth Tredgold - British South African T.M. McDonnell Mrs John Beaumont Anne Knight - Feminist Elizabeth Pease - Suffragist Jacob Post - Religious writer Anne Isabella, Lady Byron - mathematician and estranged wife Amelia Opie - Novelist and poet Mrs Rawson - Sheffield campaigner Thomas Clarkson's grandson Thomas Clarkson Thomas Morgan Thomas Clarkson - main speaker George Head Head - Banker from Carlisle William Allen John Scoble Henry Beckford - emancipated slave and abolitionist Use your cursor to explore (or Click "i" to enlarge)
The painting of the 1840 Anti-Slavery Convention at Exeter Hall. Move your cursor to identify delegates or click the icon to enlarge.[1]


The Anti-Slavery Society, or ASS, was the everyday name of two different British organisations.

ASS was founded in 1823 and was committed to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Its official name (ASS) was the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions (or, SMEG). This objective was substantially achieved in 1838 under the terms of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

In 1839, a successor organisation was formed, committed to worldwide abolition. Its official name was The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BF-ASS). This continues today as Anti-Slavery International.

Precursors[edit]

The elimination of slavery throughout the world was frequently in the mind of early abolitionists. The Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, which established the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in Britain in 1787, campaigned for an end to the Transatlantic slave trade from Western Africa to the New World, which Britain dominated by then.

The Slave Trade Act 1807 made the slave trade illegal in the British Empire. Following this, British abolitionists turned their attention to abolishing slavery itself, first in British colonies, and later in the US and the colonies of other European powers (e.g., in South America), and in parts of the world where it had long been legal, such as in the Middle East, Africa, and China.

The Anti-Slavery Society of 1823[edit]

The first British organisation to refer to itself as the Anti-Slavery Society was founded in Britain in 1823. Founding members included William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson.[2] Its official name was the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions.

Its work included supporting the first account of slavery to be published by a Black woman, Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave (1831). The publishers were sued by the family from which she had escaped. The book was much sought after, running into three editions in the year of its publication.

A wide range of views emerged among the members. Broadly, there were abolitionists who insisted on the full working out of the gradual process of abolition and amelioration (which had its successes), and the generally younger, more radical members, whose moral outlook regarded slavery as a mortal sin to be ended forthwith.

The latter group, including Joseph Sturge and many others, publicly campaigned throughout Britain. The idea was to engender public pressure for a new parliamentary act to outlaw slavery, rather than continue the gradualism of Whitehall's negotiations, mainly with colonial governments. In 1831 George Stephen and Joseph Sturge formed a ginger group within the Anti-Slavery Society, the Agency Committee, to campaign for this new act of Parliament. This campaign, and public pressure, led to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, though it contained compromises which they disliked.

The indentured labour schemes were particularly opposed by Sturge and the Agency Committee; the full working out of the Act would take several years, with slavery eventually being abolished throughout the British West Indies on 1 August 1838. In response to the new legislation, other members of the Anti-Slavery Society considered their work over. The original purpose, as reflected in the name of the society (abolition in the British dominions), had, they thought, been achieved.

The Anti-Slavery Society of 1839[edit]

With abolition of slavery throughout the British dominions achieved, British abolitionists in the Agency Committee of the Anti-Slavery Society considered that a successor organisation was needed to tackle slavery worldwide. Largely under the guidance of Joseph Sturge, the committee duly formed a new society, British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society on 17 April 1839.[3][4] It became widely known as the Anti-Slavery Society, as had the earlier society.

The first secretary was John Harfield Tredgold, the first treasurer, George William Alexander of Stoke Newington. Along with the founding committee, which included the Anglican Thomas Fowell Buxton, the Quaker William Allen, and the Congregationalist Josiah Conder, they organised the first World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840. Thomas Clarkson was the key speaker, and the Convention attracted people from nations around the world where slavery was practiced.

The convention had been advertised as a "whole world" convention, but the delegates representing anti-slavery societies in the United States included several women, among them Lucretia Mott and [Elizabeth Cady Stanton]], who later were instrumental in the movement for women's rights. Convention leaders refused to seat the women delegates from America, and prominent male abolitionists such as Thomas Knight were outraged. He went on to form his own society.

In the 1850s, under Louis Chamerovzow, the society helped John Brown write and publish his autobiography a decade before the American Civil War ended slavery in the United States.

The second secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society, appointed under the honorary secretaries Joseph Cooper and Edmund Sturge, was the Rev. Aaron Buzacott (1829–81), the son of a South Seas missionary also named Aaron Buzacott. With American slavery abolished in 1865, Buzacott worked closely with Joseph Cooper in researching and publishing work designed to help abolish slavery in elsewhere, particularly in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

In 1909, the society merged with the Aborigines' Protection Society to form the Anti-Slavery and Aborigines' Protection Society, whose prominent member was Kathleen Simon, Viscountess Simon. In 1990 the name was changed to Anti-Slavery International.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1841, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG599, Given by British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1880
  2. ^ "Slavery and abolition". Oup.com. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  3. ^ About Anti-Slavery International antislavery.org
  4. ^ Patricia Hollis (1974). Pressure from without in early Victorian England. p.39.

External links[edit]