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- Thomas Clarkson was born on March 28, 1760, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, to a wealthy family.
- His parents were Rev. John Clarkson and Anne.
- John Clarkson was an Anglican priest and the headmaster at Wisbech Grammar School.
- Thomas received his primary schooling from Wisbech Grammar School and went on to St. Paul’s School, London, in 1775.
- He graduated from St. John’s College, Cambridge, in 1783 with a bachelor’s degree.
Career, Life & Death:
- Clarkson was an outstanding student and wanted to become a reverend like his father.
- He joined the Anglican Church to follow in his father’s footsteps and was ordained as a deacon.
- But he never proceeded to taking his holy orders. After participating in a Latin essay-writing competition, he believed he had a spiritual experience.
- The topic of the essay was ‘Is it lawful to enslave the unconsenting?’ and he won the competition.
- While researching the topic, he learned about the inhumane concept of slavery and the hideous practice of slave trading through Anthony Benezet’s book on the same topic.
- His essay included accounts of people he’d interviewed who had experience of slavery. He presented it to the university and won the prize.
- While travelling back to London, he stopped at Wadesmill and experienced what he believed to be a spiritual revelation from God that someone should put an end to the evil of slavery. From that point onward, he dedicated his life to the cause.
- In 1786, he translated his essay into English to reach a wider audience. It was printed as a pamphlet and titled An essay on the slavery and commerce of the human species, particularly the African, translated from a Latin Dissertation.
- The essay gained acclaim and importance and he soon met other leading campaigners against the slave trade, including James Ramsay, Granville Sharp and other nonconformists.
- In 1783, a group of 300 Quakers signed the first petition against the slave trade and presented it to Parliament.
- In 1787, 12 men, including Thomas, founded the Committee for Abolition of the African Slave Trade.
- Of the 12 members, nine were Quakers and the other three, including Thomas, were Anglican.
- Granville Sharp was elected as chairman.
- Thomas’ main role in the committee was gathering evidence against the trade, but as it was legal and highly profitable, he faced stern opposition when he tried to educate people about the evil practice.
- He discovered that Liverpool was a major base for syndicate slave traders so he travelled there to gather evidence and generate awareness.
- He narrowly escaped with his life when a group of sailors tried to assassinate him.
- His next campaign was at a Manchester church where his speech was so successful that it acted as a catalyst for the city’s anti-slavery campaign.
- In 1787, Thomas published the pamphlet A Summary View of the Slave Trade and of the Probable Consequences of its Abolition.
- His mission led him to the port at Bristol where the landlord of the Seven Stars Pub provided him with all the information
- While travelling, he met two surgeons who had been on many voyages aboard slave ships.
- They recounted their experiences and this information was also used in the campaign.
- In his two years of evidence-gathering, Thomas travelled over 35,000 miles on horseback and interviewed around 20,000 sailors.
- He also gathered slave equipment (iron handcuffs, leg shackles, branding irons, thumb screws) used to capture, subdue and torture slaves, as evidence.
- William Wilberforce was an Anglican and an MP who openly spoke against slavery in Parliament using Thomas’ evidence.
- William introduced a bill to abolish the slave trade in 1791 but it wasn’t passed.
- Their campaign suffered another setback when the war with France erupted.
- Thomas Clarkson retired from the campaign in 1794 due to his failing health, but returned with full vigor and optimism in 1804 after the war ended.
- This time, however, his strategy lay in lobbying MPs to support the parliamentary campaign.
- His efforts finally paid off with the passing of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.
- The Act also called on the British Navy to enforce and uphold this law. With this success, he took his campaigning to the rest of Europe.
- In 1823, he helped in the establishment of the Society for Mitigation and Gradual Abolishment of Slavery.
- Parliament received 777 petitions for total emancipation of slaves.
- Due to public pressure, the Slavery Abolition Act was passed in 1833; it ordered complete emancipation of slaves in the British colonies by 1838.
- Thomas passed away on September 26, 1846, in Playford, Suffolk, and he was buried in St. Mary’s Church.
Thomas Clarkson Worksheets
This bundle includes 11 ready-to-use Thomas Clarkson worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about Thomas Clarkson who was an English abolitionist. He was one of the first effective publicists of the English abolitionist movement and a leading campaigner against the slave trade across the British Empire.
This download includes the following worksheets:
- Thomas Clarkson Facts
- Thomas’ Life Facts
- Essay Writing
- Matching Type
- Anti-slavery Movement
- Inhumane Evidence
- Slave Trade Act
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Link will appear as Thomas Clarkson Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 15, 2018
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