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AN EXTRAORDINARY ASSOCIATION COPY (SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) WILBERFORCE, WILLIAM. An Abstract of the Evidence Delivered before a Saelect Committee of the House of Commons in the Years 1790 and 1791 on the Part of the Petitioners for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Folding map of the West Coast of Africa and a large folding plate of the hold of the slave ship Brook. Tall 8vo, original drab paper-covered boards with printed spine label; all edges untrimmed; one small chip and some slight cracking to the delicate paper at the joints, a rare survival of this book in its original state. London: James Phillips, 1791
a presentation copy from william wilberforce to thomas clarkson, bringing together two giants of the abolitionist movement. "Match.["matchless?"] Clarkson's Present from the Author."One could hardly hope for a better association copy. William Wilberforce (1759-1833), politician, philanthropist and abolitionist advocate first became aware of the cruel excesses of the slave trade after a meeting with the Reverend James Ramsay in 1784. Ramsay, a ship's surgeon, had lived in the Leeward Islands where he had witnessed firsthand the harsh treatment of slaves on the plantations. His "Essay" on the harsh treatment of plantation slaves helped convert Wilberforce to the cause. Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846) became an ardent abolitionist while still at Cambridge, where he won first prize for his "Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, particularly the African" in 1785. It was Clarkson who worked tirelessly gathering the "Evidence" to essentially put the slave trade on trial before Parliament. On his periodic returns to London, Clarkson passed his evidence to the Abolition Committee, who arranged for the campaign to be taken to Parliament where William Wilberforce was leading the effort to outlaw the trade. In February 1788, a committee of the privy council started to take evidence on the "Present state of the African trade." While Wilberforce steered the campaign through Parliament, Clarkson continued to produce new evidence; evidence which Wilberforce put to good use in his famous speech of 12 May 1789. Meanwhile, Clarkson made much of his evidence available to the wider public as well as to Parliament, thus gaining popular support. The present "Abstract of the Evidence" includes a long list of "witnesses" and their testimony. That, together with the image of hundreds of human beings packed into the hold of the slave ship, had a definite effect. While it took nearly a decade more to officially ban the taking of slaves from Africa, it was the combined effort of William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and others that brought it about. The two continued their campaign to put an end to slavery altogether and in 1833, Parliament passed the act that emancipated all of Great Britain's slaves. Sadly, while Clarkson lived long enough to see the end of slavery, Wilberforce did not. He died one month before the Slavery Abolition Act was passed.
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