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Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

The Slave Trade Debate

Contemporary Writings For and Against

With an Introduction by John Pinfold

More than fifty years before the question of slavery launched the United States into the bloody turmoil of the American Civil War, Britain wrestled passionately with the same issues. A flood of pamphlets published by both abolitionists and slavery proponents fueled the debate, and they are now collected here in this fascinating volume in commemoration of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, 1807.

            Written during the 1780s and 1790s, the pamphlets confront the issues surrounding slavery, such as the Rights of Man, the economic health of the British colonies, poverty in England, and, most prominently, the economic and moral condition of the African slaves. The authors on both sides of the debate—including such prominent figures as the eventual King William IV, Sir John Gladstone (father of the future Prime Minister William Gladstone), and the leading abolitionist William Wilberforce—draw upon biblical scriptures to justify their positions, providing illuminating insights into the theological debates of the time as well. Also included in the volume are an excerpt of abolitionist James Ramsay’s journal and an informative introduction that places the writings in their historical and social contexts. The Slave Trade Debate is an essential resource for scholars of transatlantic slavery and British history.

398 pages | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2007

Black Studies

History: British and Irish History


"On the 200th anniversary of the act of the British Parliament abolishing the slave trade, Oxford University’s Bodleian Library has reprinted 14 pamphlets from its collection of abolition materials. . . . Of particular interest are the two pamphlets taking contradictory positions based on biblical evidence. . . . Recommended."

R. T. Brown | Choice

Table of Contents

The Case of our Fellow-Creatures, the Oppressed Africans, Respetfully Recommended to the Serious Consideration of the Legislature of Great-Britain, by the People called Quakers. London, 1784.
An Inquiry into the Effects of Putting a Stop to the African Slave Trade, and of Granting Liberty to the Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies. By the Author of the Essay on the Treatment and Conversation of African Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies. London, 1784.
The Substance of the Evidence of Sundry Persons on the Slave-Trade Collected in the Course of a Tour made in the autumn of the year 1788. [by Thomas Clarkson] London, 1789.
Notebook of the Rev. James Ramsay
Scriptural Researches on the Licitness of the Slave-Trade, Shewing its Conformity with the Principles of Natural and Revealed Religion, delineated in the Sacred Writings of the Word of God. By the Rev. R. Harris. Liverpool, 1788.
Examinations of The Rev. Mr. Harris’s Scriptural Researches on the Licitness of the Slave Trade. By the Rev. James Ramsay. London, 1788.
The Abolition of the Slave Trade Considered in a Religious Point ofView. A Sermon Preached Before the Corporation of the City of Oxford, at St. Martin’s Church, on Sunday, February 3, 1788. By William Agutter, M.A. of St. Mary Magdalen College. London, 1788.
An Appeal to Candour and Common Sense, Respectfully Addressed, to the Members of both Houses of Parliament, and the Community at Large. By an Individual of Little Note. [n.p,] 1789.
The True State of the Question, Addressed to the Petitioners for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. By a plain man, who signed the petition at Derby, London, 1792.
An Address to the Inhabitants of Glasgow, Paisley, and the Neighbourhood, Concerning the African Slave Trade. By a Society in Glasgow, Glasgow, 1791.
Substance of the Speech of his Royal Highness The Duke of Clarence, in the House of Lords, on the Motion for the Recommitment of the Slave Trade Limitation Bill, on the fifth day of July, 1799. London, 1799. 4th edition.
Letters Concerning the Abolition of the Slave-Trade and other West-India Affairs. By Mercator, London, 1807.
List of illustrations.

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