Declaration of the Anti-Slavery Convention

Declaration of the Anti-Slavery Convention American History Biographies African American History Social Studies Slaves and Slave Owners

As agitation against American slavery increases, abolitionists meet in Philadelphia in December of 1833.  This broadside, which is now maintained at the Library of Congress, expresses their objectives.

The Library of Congress provides a description for this important document:

The broadside declaration is illustrated with a headpiece of Hercules strangling the Nemean lion as two astonished elders look on. Beneath the woodcut is the line, "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet." 

On either side of the image are quotations from Scripture condemning the evils of slavery. The main text is a manifesto, dated December 6, 1833, advocating the formation of a national anti-slavery society and enumerating its goals. It includes the names of delegates to the convention from ten states.

Earlier that same year—on the 28th of August—The Slave Emancipation Act of 1833 receives Royal Assent. As a direct result of this Act, the British abolish slavery throughout most of their Empire.

The impact of that law did not change things for slaves overnight, however. Far from it. We learn more about the actual impact of the 1833 Emancipation Act from the UK National Archives:

In August 1833, the Slave Emancipation Act was passed, giving all slaves in the British empire their freedom, albeit after a set period of years. Plantation owners received compensation for the 'loss of their slaves' in the form of a government grant set at £20,000,000. In contrast, enslaved people received no compensation and continued to face much hardship. They remained landless, and the wages offered on the plantations after emancipation were extremely low.

The 1833 Act did not come into force until 1 August 1834. The first step was the freeing of all children under six. However, although the many thousands of enslaved people in the British West Indies were no longer legally slaves after 1 August 1834, they were still made to work as unpaid apprentices for their former masters. These masters continued to ill-treat and exploit them. Enslaved people in the British Caribbean finally gained their freedom at midnight on 31 July 1838. 

Click on the image for a much better read.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Aug 06, 2016

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy Library of Congress.


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