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Thomas Clarkson

From Academic Kids

Thomas Clarkson (28 March 1760-26 September 1846), born at Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, England, was a leading campaigner against the slave trade in the British Empire.

Clarkson was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire in 1760. He received his B.A. degree from St John's College, Cambridge in 1783.

On his way to London to get an essay that was published in English, he stopped at Wadesmill, Hertfordshire. While relaxing and trying to get a little rest, Thomas Clarkson experienced a spiritual revelation from God. It was this experience that ordered him to devote his life to abolishing the trade. As he continued on his journey to London, he ran into a publisher named James Phillips, who was a Quaker. Phillips arranged for publication in 1786. Philips had introduced Thomas Clarkson to many others were sympathetic to the cause of abolishing slavery.

In 1787 along with William Wilberforce and others, they initiated a series of parliamentary inquiries which brought out the horrors of the Middle Passage. Thomas Clarkson had the responsibility of collecting information to support the abolition of the slave trade. This included interviewing 20,000 sailors and obtaining equipment used on the slave-ships such as iron handcuffs, leg-shackles, thumb screws, instruments for forcing open slave's jaws and branding irons. His collections of information helped supported their arguments and his research that took him to ports such as Bristol. In 1807 the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed and it was not until 1833 that Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act giving all slaves in the British Empire their freedom.

Thomas Clarkson retired to Ipswich where he died on 26 September, 1846. On that spot at Wadesmill a monument to Clarkson was erected in 1879 that reads: 'On this spot where stands this monument in the month of June 1785 Thomas Clarkson resolved to devote his life to bringing about the abolition of the slave trade.'

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