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Section 4 - Anti-Slavery

Sources for the study of the Slave Trade in Archives and Heritage

Archives and Heritage holds some records of anti-slavery campaigners and local organisations. One of the best known is the Female Society for the Relief of British Negro Slaves which was founded in 1825.One of the chief aims of these organisations was to raise awareness of the horrors of slavery by publishing pamphlets and leaflets describing the conditions in which slaves were kept. This can be clearly seen from the founding resolution of the Female Society for the Relief of British Negro Slaves reproduced in document 4/1. Documents 4/2-5 are examples of the material produced. They also held public meetings at which former slaves were invited to speak (see document 6/1).

These sources can provide more information and give details of individual slaves and the lives that slaves lived. However, it must be remembered that these records were created with a purpose - to appeal to respectable opinion of the day, and turn it against slavery. The accounts are influenced by this, and are seldom directly the voices of the slaves themselves.

One of the main products of the plantations was sugar. The anti-slavery movement of the day attempted to persuade the public to boycott sugar from the West Indies, believing that it would contribute to the downfall of the slave trade. In document 4/6 the writer appeals primarily to his own religious group, the Quakers, but by 1828 the signatures on document 4/7 show that the movement had achieved much wider support.

List of documents in section 4


Part of the founding resolutions of the Female Society for the Relief of British Negro Slaves, 1825.

See document 4.1


Information printed in Birmingham for the Female Society for the Relief of British Negro Slaves. These are examples of the type of material produced by the Society to sway public opinion in Britain.

See document 4.2


See document 4.3


See document 4.4


See document 4.5


Some Considerations on the African Slave Trade And the Use of West India Produce,written by John Horn, London 1805
First Month (as the Quakers referred to January).

See document 4.6


Extract from the record of a "Public Meeting of the Inhabitants of Birmingham and Its Neighbourhood, Birmingham, 18 April 1828". The meeting resolved to send this petition to Parliament. Lord Calthorpe was to present it in the House of Lords and the two members for the County, Dougdale Stratford Dugdale and Francis Lawley, in the Commons. Other supporters included Church of England and non-conformist clergymen, men of business and the High and Low Bailiffs of Birmingham.

See document 4.7

See a transcription of document 4.7


Notes by the Rev Thomas Swan, Baptist minister, born in Manchester, at one time professor of theology at Serampore, India, and later pastor of Cannon Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, 1829-1857.The notes, written in the 1840s, show how one British campaigner perceived slavery.

See document 4.8

See a transcription of document 4.8

Slave Trade Main Menu
The Trade Connections Between Birmingham and the West Indies
Joseph Sturge and the Anti-Slavery Society
Olaudah Equiano