Clarkson and his friends were not discouraged. The loudest was that of Elizabeth Heyrick, a former teacher and convert to the Quakers.
Now, in Bury the Chains, he brings us the story of the most successful episodes of human rights activism, relating how, in just a few years at the end of the 18th century, a small group of men and one woman took on the vested interests of state, church and big business - and won.
One hundred and three were sent to parliament with 60, signatures. Of course, when emancipation came for the slaves of the British Empire, their lot did not greatly improve. Petitions, graphic images, local committees, boycotts, speaking tours all were used - perhaps for the first time, or for the first time on such a scale - as part of this campaign.
Most of them have known no other way of life. Yet with organisation, enthusiasm and imaginative campaigning, the abolitionists eventually forced parliament to hear the cries of the suffering slaves and bend to the will of the British people.
Was it Wilberforce or Clarkson? The conditions of slaves got worse rather than better - it is estimated that more than two million whiplashes were administered each year.
For the rest of his life he rode and walked the length of Britain and quite a lot of France, too addressing meetings, writing pamphlets, collecting signatures on petitions, and compiling a wealth of evidence on the horrors of the slave trade.
His last pamphlet was about the appalling conditions of British seamen. He is in no doubt that it was Clarkson, the ginger-haired giant. The argument was that if the human traffic could be stopped, then slavery itself would eventually wither and die.
At its close, there were fewer thanOur British ancestors, unaware of its dangers to health, consumed huge quantities of the stuff and the economy would have ground to a halt without it. One hundred and three were sent to parliament with 60, signatures. The life of the slaves who cut and harvested the sugar was hellish and short: Just about every town and city in the country organised petitions on scrolls.
Newspapers took it up. Cutting sugar was back-breaking and dangerous. Black voices were often absent, with powerful African campaigners like Olauda Equiano acting independently of the leading Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
Not usually in acts of daring, though some of them did risk their lives and reputations. Chief among them is Thomas Clarkson, who oversaw the grassroots campaigning, traveling the length and breath of the country to get petitions signed, or to track down witnesses who could give first-hand accounts of the slave trade.
Those who benefited from the slave trade fought back, employing lobby groups, bribing politicians and journalists. But the story told in this book makes it especially evident, perhaps because it is both modern enough to allow such comparisons, but old enough to ensure that positions and sensibilities will not always align in a way that modern progressives will be happy about.
Slavery became the cause of the day. There may, of course, be many different factors at work: Our British ancestors, unaware of its dangers to health, consumed huge quantities of the stuff and the economy would have ground to a halt without it. Many wanted to end the trade, but argued against freeing those already in slavery.
There was Olaudah Equiano, an eloquent, freed Igbo slave, who gatecrashed London society and wrote bestselling books about his own experiences. But the victory was a tarnished one: It was a humbling experience, because it was not even a vote to abolish slavery as a whole, just the trade in slaves.
Slaves would often fall asleep and let their hands slip into the crushing mills. So I close with a beautiful quotation from William Morris that the author gives, not made originally a propos of this case, but perfectly suited to it: As I said, your average 18th century English eccentric.
It was inspiring to learn about the role of women in the anti-slavery movement in Britain at this time. They owned nothing; the means of production were still in the hands of the former slave owners who were also generously compensated by the government for their loss and real slavery was simply replaced by debt-slavery and wage-slavery.Bury The Chains has 1, ratings and reviews.
Simon said: A very interesting and, despite its grim subject matter, a very enjoyable book. The story of that campaign is really quite astonishing. Adam Hochschild sees the British anti-slavery movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a remarkable event in the moral /5.
A review of the book 'Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery', from ' Commemorated', a site looking at the commemoration of the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery,from the Institute of Historical Research and the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past, University of York.
Early inHoughton Mifflin published Adam Hochschild's latest book, Bury the Chains, in which the author documents the amazing accomplishments of a committee of twelve men who decided in to stop English slave trading.5/5(5).
Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for Bury the Chains: out of 5 stars Bury th Chains, by Adam Hochschild.
By Walter F. Rice on March 26, Format: A really well written story telling the history how slavery was outlawed in Britain. The author uses diaries, letters and other historical documents to weave a.
Bury the Chains: An Interview with Adam Hochschild a small group of Englishmen went out on a limb and put forward the radical notion that slavery was wrong.
Bury the Chains is the latest. Bury The Chains tells the remarkable story of the men who sought to end slavery and brought the issue to the heart of British political life.
`Hochschild's marvellous book is a timely reminder of what a small group of determined people, with /5(4).Download