In London on May 22nd 1846, the great anti-slavery campaigner and orator Frederick Douglass - who himself was a former slave – stood before a large audience and related to them the reasons why he was there: 

“Why do I not confine my efforts to the United States? My answer first, that slavery is the common enemy of mankind and it should be made acquainted with its abominable character. Slavery is a system of wrong, so blinding to all around, so hardening to the heart, so corrupting to the morals, so deleterious to religion, so sapping to all the principles of justice, in its immediate vicinity, that the community surrounding it lacks the moral stamina necessary to its removal. It is a system of such gigantic evils, so strong, so overwhelming in its power, that no one nation is equal to its removal. I want the slaveholder surrounded, by a wall of anti-slavery fire, so that he may see the condemnation of himself and his system glaring down in letters of light. I want him to feel that he has no sympathy in England, Scotland, and Ireland, that he has none in Canada, none in Mexico, none among the poor wild Indians…”

On this episode of American History Too! we're joined by University College London's Matt Griffin (@mattrgriffin) to explore the fascinating who, what, and why of trans-Atlantic anti-slavery campaigns in the mid-nineteenth century.


Mark & Malcolm

Reading List

R. J. M. Blackett, Building an Antislavery Wall: Black Americans in the Atlantic Abolitionist Movement, 1830-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana University Press, 1983)

David Brion Davis, ‘Looking at Slavery from Broader Perspectives’, The American Historical Review 105:2 (Apr., 2000), 452-466

Don H. Doyle, The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War (New York: Basic Books, 2015)

Amanda Foreman, World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War (London: Penguin, 2011)

Van Gosse, ‘“As a Nation, the English Are Our Friends": The Emergence of African American Politics in the British Atlantic World, 1772-1861’, The American Historical Review
113:4 (Oct., 2008), 1003-1028

Caleb McDaniel, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform (Baton Rouge: Louisiana University Press, 2013)
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