Antiquarian Auctions

SA Auction #106 begins on 13 Apr 2023

US Auction #15 begins on 10 May 2023

Clarkson, Rev. Thomas

An Essay on the Impolity of the Slave Trade in Two Parts

Published: Printed and sold by J. Phillips, London, 1788

Edition: First

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Clarkson was the eldest son of the Reverend John Clarkson (1710–1766), a Church of England priest and master of Wisbech Grammar School. An excellent student, he appears to have enjoyed his time at the University of Cambridge, although he was a serious, devout man.

In 1785 Clarkson entered a Latin essay competition at the university that was to set him on the course for most of the remainder of his life. The topic of the essay, set by university vice-chancellor Peter Peckard, was Anne liceat invitos in servitutem dare (is it lawful to make slaves of others against their will?), and it led Clarkson to consider the question of the slave trade. He read everything he could on the subject, including the works of Anthony Benezet, a Quaker abolitionist, as well as first hand accounts of the African slave trade such as Francis Moore's Travels into the Interior Parts of Africa. He also researched the topic by meeting and interviewing those who had personal experience of the slave trade and of slavery.

After winning the prize, Clarkson had what he called a spiritual revelation from God as he travelled by horse between Cambridge and London. This experience and sense of calling ultimately led him to devote his life to abolishing the slave trade.

The essay was influential, resulting in Clarkson's being introduced to many others who were sympathetic to abolition, some of whom had already published and campaigned against slavery. A small offshoot group formed the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, a small non-denominational group that could lobby more successfully by incorporating Anglicans. In May 1787, they formed the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. In 1788 Clarkson published his Essay on the Impolicy of the African Slave Trade (1788).

  • Binding Condition: Good
  • Overall Condition: Fair to Good
  • Sold By: Africana Books
  • Contact Person: Stefan Blank
  • Country: South Africa
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Telephone: 021 4475741
  • Preferred Payment Methods: Direct deposit/EFT to our account, or Visa, Master & Amex cards - but an extra 5% will be debited for card chgs.. Paypal also welcome, but 7% charge will be levied, as there are PP &repatriation fees to be paid.
  • Trade Associations: Member of SABDA

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