MASSIVE EXPLOITATION (Illustration) Civil Rights Famous Historical Events Film Law and Politics Social Studies World History Ethics Crimes and Criminals Slaves and Slave Owners

In this image, we see a pencil-and-watercolor work by Lt. Francis Meynell. Entitled "Slave deck of the Albaroz, Prize to the Albatross, 1845,” the illustration shows captured Africans, intended to become slaves, who were liberated by the British Navy. The Albanez (erroneously identified as the Albaroz) was a Brazilian ship, captured by the Albratross (a Royal Navy vessel) off the mouth of the Coanza/Cuanza River in 1845. The artist was serving aboard the Albatross at the time. The image (E029) is online via Slavery Images.org, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite; sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library. Click on it for a better view.


First-hand accounts of slave-trading horrors reached people in Britain.

Even hardened hearts were touched by the story of the Zong captives: 133 Africans who were deliberately thrown overboard, and left to drown, by slavers hoping to increase the size of an insurance settlement. (If the "cargo" - i.e., the slaves - went overboard alive, owners of the "cargo" were entitled to compensation under their insurance policy.)

Only one African survived. No one involved with the crime, which took place in 1781, was ever prosecuted for murder.

How could such treatment of human beings ever be justified? As John Wesley notes, in his analysis of the British slave-trading industry:

The grand plea is,  "They are authorized by law."   But can law, human law, change the nature of things? Can it turn darkness into light, or evil into good? By no means. Notwithstanding ten thousand laws, right is right, and wrong is wrong still. . .Who can reconcile this treatment of the Negroes, first and last, with either mercy or justice?

"This treatment" could not be reconciled. The law had to change.

Three hundred Quakers, mostly from London, petitioned Parliament - in 1783 - to abolish the law allowing slave-trade. Nothing meaningful happened. At the time, Quakers were not even allowed to be members of Parliament.

Meanwhile, millions of British men, women and children worked sixteen hours a day, six days a week, in factories which processed the slave-trade's raw materials, principally cotton.

Hoping to find work in the cities, these laborers lived in crowded, filthy dwellings where cholera, typhoid and tuberculosis germs were ever-present neighbors. After his conversion, William Wilberforce tried to help these people by drawing Parliament's attention to their plight.

As William tried to make a difference for the working poor, he was approached by Lady Middleton, known as Albinia Townshend before her marriage. She had another, bigger project in mind for the young MP. She asked him to use his influence, and power, to end the slave trade.

Wilberforce sought the counsel of his friend, the Prime Minister William Pitt. Should he jump into the slave-trade abolition movement? During a conversation, which took place under an oak tree on Pitt's estate, "Pitt the Younger" agreed with Lady Middleton.

William accepted the challenge. Despite misgivings, he agreed to do his best, writing:

I feel the great importance of the subject and I think myself unequal to the task allotted to me.

Four years after the Quaker's petition to change the law, Thomas Clarkson formed a committee to spearhead an abolition movement. It was formally instituted on the 22nd of May, 1787. Nine of its original twelve members were Quakers.

Their charge was to find the evidence Wilberforce - also a committee member - needed for his first slave-trade-ending speech to Parliament.

The evidence they found was so overwhelming it took Wilberforce more than three hours to summarize it. Let's examine some excerpts from his famous speech.

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

Original Release: Jan 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: Mar 16, 2017

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"MASSIVE EXPLOITATION" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2007. Jan 19, 2020.
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