Thomas Clarkson and Abolition

10 week course on Thomas Clarkson - support materials

Recommended online talks, lectures, videos etc – links last checked 17 October 2017

Radio programmes
Wilberforce - In Our Time
In an unusual edition of In Our Time, marking the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade, Melvyn Bragg leaves the studio to examine the life of William Wilberforce. In Wilberforce's time, he was seen as both saint and sinner for championing a moral cause which many felt undermined British imperial interests. Subsequently, however, some critics have pointed at the slow pace of his anti-slavery campaign as well as his conservatism towards the conditions of workers in Britain itself. But is it now time to hand him back his laurels and to accept that he really was one of the great men of history? 45mins

Slavery and Empire – In Our Time
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss slavery and empire; two themes that run right through this country’s history. Britain’s imperial project dominated at least the last three centuries of our national life. Its advocates claim it was a civilising mission by which Britain spread enlightenment and improvement across the globe. Opponents have long seen it as a brutal business, with Britons cast as cruel oppressors out to exploit a conquered world. Is our imperial history so clear cut? What if Britons were themselves captives, either as prisoners of an imperial enterprise that sucked them in, generation after generation or, in some startling cases, as slaves to foreign peoples? Is slavery an inevitable part of empire: does it come with the territory? And how did Britain finally shake it off? With Linda Colley, School Professor of History, LSE; Catherine Hall, Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History, University College London; Felipe Fernandez Armesto, Professorial Research Fellow, Queen Mary College London.

Video Lectures

How to Place Slavery into British Identity - Dr William Pettigrew
This lecture will revisit the determinants of British identity by examining the problem of slavery in British history from Roman times to the present day. Freedom and slavery provide the compass points for much of the British story but the causes, experiences, and legacies of slavery have not been fully integrated into British consciousness. An analysis of the economic, political, intellectual, and constitutional meanings of slavery in British history can suggest means to integrate slavery constructively into the story of Britain.52mins
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are also available

A Student's Essay That Changed the World - Lawrence Reed
In this lecture from the FEE Summer Seminars Lawrence Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education, discusses the inspiring life of Thomas Clarkson and his role in abolishing slavery. 43 Mins.

Britain and the Legacies of Slavery (11 June 2013) – Catherine Hall
Prof Catherine Hall, UCL History - Once abolition was secured, Britons were keen to overlook slavery and emphasise the memory of emancipation. But Britain and Britons benefitted in multiple ways from slavery. By focusing on the role of the many slave-owners who lived here, should British history be reconsidered to take slavery into full account? 42Mins

Video Documentary Programmes
In Search of Wilberforce. Presented by Moira Stuart
In Search of Wilberforce is a documentary presented by Moira Stuart which sets out to discover the truth regarding the so-called "abolitionist" William Wilberforce and his contribution to the beginning of the end to the British involvement in the African holocaust, the trade in captured Africans and emancipation. 5 x 10mins
BBC4 - The Extraordinary Equiano 2005
The story of Olaudah Equiano, a black slave who emerged from the horrors of the African holocaust to become an English gentleman, marry a white woman and write one of the most influential books of his generation - his autobiography. The book became a key text in the abolition movement as it confronted its audience directly with the grim reality of the slave trade. 59mins
Rough Crossing: 2007 Docudrama by Simon Schama
Rough Crossings is the astonishing story of the struggle to freedom by thousands of African-American slaves who fled the plantations to fight behind British lines in the American War of Independence. With gripping, powerfully vivid story-telling, Simon Schama follows the escaped blacks into the fires of the war, and into freezing, inhospitable Nova Scotia where many who had served the Crown were betrayed in their promises to receive land at the war's end. Their fate became entwined with British abolitionists: inspirational figures such as Granville Sharp, the flute-playing father-figure of slave freedom, and John Clarkson, the 'Moses' of this great exodus, who accompanied the blacks on their final rough crossing to Africa, wher they hoped that freedom would finally greet them. 1hr25mins

Rough Crossings: Blacks and the Revolutionary War
Simon Schama discusses his book Rough Crossings, which turns on a single huge question: if you were black in America at the start of the Revolutionary War, whom would you want to win? Tens of thousands gave their answer, voting with their feet for Britain and King George. In response to a declaration by the Governor of Virginia that any rebel-owned slave who escaped and served the King would be emancipated, tens of thousands of slaves, Americans who clung to the sentimental notion of British freedom, escaped from farms, plantations, and cities to try to reach the British camp. This mass movement lasted as long as the war did, and a military strategy originally designed to break the plantations of the American South had unleashed the greatest uprising in American history. Schama details the odyssey of the escaped blacks through the fires of war and the terror of potential recapture at the war's end, into inhospitable Nova Scotia, where thousands who had served the Crown were betrayed, and, in a little-known hegira of the slave epic, shipped across the broad, stormy ocean to Sierra Leone. 1hr14mins
Audio Books
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano .. (FULL audiobook) - part 1
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, written in 1789, is the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano. It discusses his time spent in slavery, serving primarily on galleys, documents his attempts at becoming an independent man through his study of the Bible, and his eventual success in gaining his own freedom and in business thereafter. The book contains an interesting discussion of slavery in West Africa and illustrates how the experience differs from the dehumanising slavery of the Americas. The Intereresting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano is also one of the first widely read slave narratives. This work was produced to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain. 8 hours.