Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXI. - The History of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, vol. 1
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CHAPTER XXI. - Thomas Clarkson, The History of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, vol. 1 
The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament, 2 vols. (London: L. Taylor, 1808). Vol. 1.
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Labours of the committee continued to February 1788—Committee elect new members—vote thanks to Falconbridge and others—receive letters from Grove and others—circulate numerous publications—make a report—send circular letters to corporate bodies—release Negros unjustly detained—find new correspondents in Archdeacon Paley—the Marquis de la Fayette—Bishop of Cloyne—Bishop of Peterborough—and in many others.
The labours of the committee, during my absence, were as I have now explained them; but as I was obliged, almost immediately on joining them, to retire into the country to begin my new work, I must give an account of their further services till I joined them again, or till the middle of February 1788.
During sittings which were held from the middle of December 1787 to the eighteenth of January 1788, the business of the committee had so increased, that it was found proper to make an addition to their number. Accordingly James Martin and William Morton Pitt, esquires, members of parliament, and Robert Hunter, and Joseph Smith, esquires, were chosen members of it.
The knowledge also of the institution of the society had spread to such an extent, and the eagerness among individuals to see the publications of the committee had been so great, that the press was kept almost constantly going during the time now mentioned. No fewer than three thousand lists of the subscribers, with a circular letter prefixed to them, explaining the object of the institution, were ordered to be printed within this period, to which are to be added fifteen hundred of Benezet’s Account of Guinea, three thousand of the Dean of Middleham’s Letters, five thousand Summary Views, and two thousand of a new edition of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, which I had enlarged before the last of these sittings from materials collected in my late tour.
The thanks of the committee were voted during this period to Mr. Alexander Falconbridge, for the assistance he had given me in my inquiries into the nature of the Slave-trade.
As Mr. Falconbridge had but lately returned from Africa, and as facts and circumstances, which had taken place but a little time ago, were less liable to objections (inasmuch as they proved the present state of things) than those which had happened in earlier times, he was prevailed upon to write an account of what he had seen during the four voyages he had made to that continent; and accordingly, within the period which has been mentioned, he began his work.
The committee, during these sittings, kept up a correspondence with those gentlemen who were mentioned in the last chapter to have addressed them. But, besides these, they found other voluntary correspondents in the following persons, Capel Lofft, esquire, of Troston, and the reverend R. Brome of Ipswich, both in the county of Suffolk. These made an earnest tender of their services for those parts of the county in which they resided. Similar offers were made by Mr. Hammond of Stanton, near St. Ives, in the county of Huntingdon, by Thomas Parker, esquire, of Beverley, and by William Grove, esquire, of Litchfield, for their respective towns and neighbourhoods.
A letter was received also within this period from the society established at Philadelphia, accompanied with documents in proof of the good effects of the manumission of slaves, and with specimens of writing and drawing by the same. In this letter the society congratulated the committee in London on its formation, and professed its readiness to cooperate in any way in which it could be made useful.
During these sittings, a letter was also read from Dr. Bathurst, now bishop of Norwich, dated Oxford, December the seventeenth, in which he offered his services in the promotion of the cause.
Another was read, which stated that Dr. Horne, president of Magdalen College in the same university, and afterwards bishop of the same see as the former, highly favoured it.
Another was read from Mr. Lambert, fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in which he signified to the committee the great desire he had to promote the object of their institution. He had drawn up a number of queries relative to the state of the unhappy slaves in the islands, which he had transmitted to a friend, who had resided in them, to answer. These answers he purposed to forward to the committee on their arrival.
Another was read from Dr. Hinchliffe, bishop of Peterborough, in which he testified his hearty approbation of the institution, and of the design of it, and his determination to support the object of it in parliament. He gave in at the same time a plan, which he called Thoughts on the Means of Abolishing the Slave-trade in Great Britain and in our West Indian Islands, for the consideration of the committee.
At the last of these sittings, the committee thought it right to make a report to the public relative to the state and progress of their cause; but as this was composed from materials, which the reader has now in his possession, it may not be necessary to produce it.
On the twenty-second and twenty-ninth of January, and on the fifth and twelfth of February, 1788, sittings were also held. During these, the business still increasing, John Maitland, esquire, was elected a member of the committee.
As the correspondents of the committee were now numerous, and as these solicited publications for the use of those who applied to them, as well as of those to whom they wished to give a knowledge of the subject, the press was kept in constant employ during this period also. Five thousand two hundred and fifty additional Reports were ordered to be printed, and also three thousand of Falconbridge’s Account of the Slave-trade, the manuscript of which was now finished. At this time, Mr. Newton, rector of St. Mary Woolnoth in London, who had been in his youth to the coast of Africa, but who had now become a serious and useful divine, felt it his duty to write his Thoughts on the African Slave-trade. The committee, having obtained permission, printed three thousand copies of these also.
During these sittings, the chairman was requested to have frequent communication with Dr. Porteus, bishop of London, as he had expressed his desire of becoming useful to the institution.
A circular letter also, with the report before mentioned, was ordered to be sent to the mayors of several corporate towns.
A case also occurred, which it may not be improper to notice. The treasurer reported that he had been informed by the chairman, that the captain of the Albion merchant ship, trading to the Bay of Honduras, had picked up at sea from a Spanish ship, which had been wrecked, two black men, one named Henry Martin Burrowes, a free native of Antigua, who had served in the royal navy, and the other named Antonio Berrat, a Spanish Negro; that the said captain detained these men on board his ship, then lying in the river Thames, against their will; and that he would not give them up. Upon this report, it was resolved that the cause of these unfortunate captives should be espoused by the committee. Mr. Sharp accordingly caused a writ of habeas-corpus to be served upon them; soon after which he had the satisfaction of reporting, that they had been delivered from the place of their confinement.
During these sittings the following letters were read also:
One from Richard How, of Apsley, offering his services to the committee.
Another from the reverend Christopher Wyvill, of Burton Hall in Yorkshire, to the same effect.
Another from Archdeacon Plymley, (now Corbett,) in which he expressed the deep interest he took in this cause of humanity and freedom, and the desire he had of making himself useful as far as he could towards the support of it; and he wished to know, as the clergy of the diocese of Litchfield and Coventry were anxious to espouse it also, whether a petition to parliament from them, as a part of the established church, would not be desirable at the present season.
Another from Archdeacon Paley, containing his sentiments on a plan for the abolition of the Slave-trade, and the manumission of slaves in our islands, and offering his future services, and wishing success to the undertaking.
Another from Dr. Sharp, prebendary of Durham, inquiring into the probable amount of the subscriptions which might be wanted, and for what purposes, with a view of serving the cause.
Another from Dr. Woodward, bishop of Cloyne, in which he approved of the institution of the committee. He conceived the Slave-trade to be no less disgraceful to the legislature and injurious to the true commercial interests of the country, than it was productive of unmerited misery to the unhappy objects of it, and repugnant both to the principles and the spirit of the Christian religion. He wished to be placed among the asserters of the liberty of his fellow-creatures, and he was therefore desirous of subscribing largely, as well as of doing all he could, both in England and Ireland, for the promotion of such a charitable work.
A communication was made, soon after the reading of the last letter, through the medium of the Chevalier de Ternant, from the celebrated Marquis de la Fayette of France. The marquis signified the singular pleasure he had received on hearing of the formation of a committee in England for the abolition of the Slave-trade, and the earnest desire he had to promote the object of it. With this view, he informed the committee that he should attempt the formation of a similar society in France. This he conceived to be one of the most effectual measures he could devise for securing the object in question; for he was of opinion, that if the two great nations of France and England were to unite in this humane and Christian work, the other European nations might be induced to follow the example.
The committee, on receiving the two latter communications, resolved, that the chairman should return their thanks to the Bishop of Cloyne, and the Marquis de la Fayette, and the Chevalier de Ternant, and that he should inform them, that they were enrolled among the honorary and corresponding members of the Society.
The other letters read during these sittings were to convey information to the committee, that people in various parts of the kingdom had then felt themselves so deeply interested in behalf of the injured Africans, that they had determined either on public meetings, or had come to resolutions, or had it in contemplation to petition parliament, for the abolition of the Slave-trade. Information was signified to this effect by Thomas Walker, esquire, for Manchester; by John Hoyland, William Hoyles, esquire, and the reverend James Wilkinson, for Sheffield; by William Tuke, and William Burgh esquire, for York; by the reverend Mr. Foster, for Colchester; by Joseph Harford and Edmund Griffith, esquires, for Bristol; by William Bishop, esquire, the mayor, for Maidstone; by the reverend R. Brome and the reverend J. Wright, for Ipswich; by James Clark, esquire, the mayor, for Coventry; by Mr. Jones, of Trinity College, for the University of Cambridge; by Dr. Schomberg, of Magdalen College, for the University of Oxford; by Henry Bullen, esquire, for Bury St. Edmunds; by Archdeacon Travis, for Chester; by Mr. Hammond, for the county of Huntingdon; by John Flint, esquire, (now Corbett,) for the town of Shrewsbury and county of Salop; by the reverend Robert Lucas, for the town and also for the county of Northampton; by Mr. Winchester, for the county of Stafford; by the reverend William Leigh, for the county of Norfolk; by David Barclay, for the county of Hertford; and by Thomas Babington, esquire, for the county of Leicester.