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Henry Brougham and Anti-Slavery 1802-1843

Citation: Morewood, John (2021) Henry Brougham and Anti-Slavery 1802-1843. Doctoral thesis, School of Advanced Study.

17.05.26 John Morewood_final revised thesis.pdf

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This thesis examines the forgotten role of Henry Brougham who progressed from being an adviser to Wilberforce to become the lead slavery abolitionist in this period. It shows how Brougham’s use of his Scottish education played an important role in the passing of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. It demonstrates how his parliamentary oratorical skills, journalistic ability, and creation of a network of like-minded individuals, dedicated to reform, led to anti-slavery becoming part of the national consciousness and a pillar of the Whig party’s reform agenda. The thesis also looks at Brougham’s impact on all the major anti-slavery legislation of the period, including the passing of the controversial Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. It covers the period from Brougham’s first writing against slavery in the pages of The Edinburgh Review in 1802 to his final successful piece of anti-slavery legislation in 1843 with some observations on his subsequent role as the ‘elder statesman’ of the anti-slavery movement.

Through Brougham’s engagement in anti-slavery, the thesis examines the campaigns in the British Parliament between 1804 and 1843 to end both slavery and the slave trade in British possessions in the West Indies, as well as the slave trade activities of other European nations. In doing so it concentrates on the years of the struggle after the passing of the 1807 Slave Trade Act, a period usually neglected. It looks at the arguments deployed by Parliamentary abolitionists and concludes that, in addition to those of religion, humanity and justice, that of ‘sound policy’ was also important, and in some cases more so amongst government and Parliamentary decision makers. The thesis argues that the application of principles taught at Edinburgh University gave the abolitionists a distinct advantage in the struggle against the West India Interest which still enjoyed strong support until 1833. It was the use of arguments of ‘sound policy’, a statistics-based approach, able parliamentary leadership and management, supported by a media campaign involving the use of newspapers and journals targetted at the educated classes, backed up by other demonstrations of popular support, that ensured abolitionist success in this period.

Creators: Morewood, John and
Subjects: History
Human Rights & Development Studies
Keywords: Anti-slavery, Abolitionist, Colonial Policy, Concise Statement, Edinburgh Review, William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Henry Brougham, Earl Grey, George Canning, Lord Holland, James Losh, Lord Liverpool, Thomas Fowell Buxton, William Robertson, Duke of Wellington, Zachary Macaulay, 1807, 1833, 1843, Whig Government, Scottish Enlightenment, Slave Trade, West India Interest, Apprenticeships, Slavery Abolition Act, Slave Trade Felony Act, Emancipation, The Times, local and national press, Nonconformists, Lincoln, French, Portuguese and Spanish abolition
Divisions: Institute of Historical Research
Collections: Theses and Dissertations
  • 31 March 2021 (completed)


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