The World Anti-Slavery Convention met for the first time at Exeter Hall in London, on 12–23 June 1840.It was organised by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, largely on the initiative of the English Quaker Joseph Sturge. The exclusion of women from the convention had important ramifications for the women's suffrage movement in the United States.
Exeter Hall was a hall on the north side of the Strand, London, England. It was erected between 1829 and 1831 on the site of Exeter Exchange, to designs by John Peter Gandy, the brother of the visionary architect Joseph Michael Gandy. The site had formerly been occupied by part of Exeter House, the London residence of the Earls of Exeter, almost opposite the Savoy Hotel. The official opening date was 29 March 1831.
Joseph Sturge was an English Quaker, abolitionist and activist. He founded the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. He worked throughout his life in Radical political actions supporting pacifism, working-class rights, and the universal emancipation of slaves. In the late 1830s, he published two books about the apprenticeship system in Jamaica, which helped persuade the British Parliament to adopt an earlier full emancipation date. In Jamaica, Sturge also helped found Free Villages with the Baptists, to provide living quarters for freed slaves; one was named "Sturge Town" in his memory.
The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was principally a Quaker society founded in the eighteenth century by Thomas Clarkson. The slave trade had been abolished throughout the British Empire in 1807. In August 1833 the British government passed the Slavery Abolition Act, advocated by William Wilberforce, which abolished slavery in the British Empire from August 1834, when some 800,000 people in the British empire became free.
Thomas Clarkson was an English abolitionist, and a leading campaigner against the slave trade in the British Empire. He helped found The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade and helped achieve passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which ended British trade in slaves.
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.
William Wilberforce was a British politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming a Member of Parliament for Yorkshire (1784–1812). He was independent of party. In 1785, he became an evangelical Christian, which resulted in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for social reform and progress. He was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge.
Similarly, in the 1830s many women and men in America acted on their religious convictions and moral outrage to become a part of the abolitionist movement. Many women in particular responded to William Lloyd Garrison's invitation to become involved in the American Anti-Slavery Society. They were heavily involved, attending meetings and writing petitions. Arthur Tappan and other conservative members of the society objected to women engaging in politics publicly.
Abolitionism was the movement to end slavery. This term can be used both formally and informally. In Western Europe and the Americas, abolitionism was a historic movement that sought to end the Atlantic slave trade and set slaves free. King Charles I of Spain, usually known as Emperor Charles V, was following the example of Louis X of France who had abolished slavery within the Kingdom of France in 1315. He passed a law which would have abolished colonial slavery in 1542, although this law was not passed in the largest colonial states, and it was not enforced as a result. In the late 17th century, the Roman Catholic Church officially condemned the slave trade in response to a plea by Lourenço da Silva de Mendouça, and it was also vehemently condemned by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839. The abolitionist movement only started in the late 18th century, however, when English and American Quakers began to question the morality of slavery. James Oglethorpe was among the first to articulate the Enlightenment case against slavery, banning it in the Province of Georgia on humanitarian grounds, and arguing against it in Parliament, and eventually encouraging his friends Granville Sharp and Hannah More to vigorously pursue the cause. Soon after his death in 1785, Sharp and More united with William Wilberforce and others in forming the Clapham Sect.
William Lloyd Garrison was a prominent American abolitionist, journalist, suffragist, and social reformer. He is best known as the editor of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, which he founded with Isaac Knapp in 1831 and published in Massachusetts until slavery was abolished by Constitutional amendment after the American Civil War. He was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and promoted "immediate emancipation" of slaves in the United States.
The American Anti-Slavery Society was an abolitionist society founded by William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur Tappan. Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave, was a key leader of this society who often spoke at its meetings. William Wells Brown was also a freed slave who often spoke at meetings. By 1838, the society had 1,350 local charters with around 250,000 members.
Given the perceived need for a society to campaign for anti-slavery worldwide, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS) was accordingly founded in 1839.One of its first significant deeds was to organize the World Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840: "Our expectations, we confess, were high, and the reality did not disappoint them." The preparations for this event had begun in 1839, when the Society circulated an advertisement inviting delegates to participate in the convention. Over 200 of the official delegates were British. The next largest group was the Americans, with around 50 delegates. Only small numbers of delegates from other nations attended.
The circular message, distributed in 1839 provoked a controversial response from American opponents of slavery. The Garrisonian faction supported the participation of women in the anti-slavery movement. They were opposed by the supporters of Arthur and Lewis Tappan. When the latter group sent a message to the BFASS opposing the inclusion of women, a second circular was issued in February 1840 which explicitly stated that the meeting was limited to "gentlemen".
Arthur Tappan was an American abolitionist. He was the brother of Senator Benjamin Tappan, and abolitionist Lewis Tappan and nephew of Harvard Theologian Rev. Dr. David Tappan.
Lewis Tappan (1788–1873) was a New York abolitionist who worked to achieve the freedom of the illegally enslaved Africans of the Amistad. Contacted by Connecticut abolitionists soon after the Amistad arrived in port, Tappan focused extensively on the captive Africans. He ensured the acquisition of high-quality lawyers for the captives, which led to their being set free after the case went to the United States Supreme Court. With his brother Arthur, Tappan not only gained legal help and acquittal for the Africans, but also managed to increase public support and fundraising. Finally, he organized the return trip home to Africa for surviving members of the group.
Despite an earlier statement that women would not be admitted, many American and British female abolitionists, including Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lady Byron, appeared at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. Wendell Phillips proposed that female delegates should be admitted, and much of the first day of the convention was devoted to discussing whether they should be allowed to participate.Published reports from the convention noted "The upper end and one side of the room were appropriated to ladies, of whom a considerable number were present, including several female abolitionist from the United States." The women were allowed to watch and listen from the spectators gallery but could not take part.
Lucretia Mott was a U.S. Quaker, abolitionist, women's rights activist, and social reformer. She had formed the idea of reforming the position of women in society when she was amongst the women excluded from the World Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840. In 1848 she was invited by Jane Hunt to a meeting that led to the first meeting about women's rights. Mott helped write the Declaration of Sentiments during the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American suffragist, social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early women's rights movement. Her Declaration of Sentiments, presented at the Seneca Falls Convention held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, is often credited with initiating the first organized women's rights and women's suffrage movements in the United States. Stanton was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1890 until 1892.
Anne Isabella Noel Byron, 11th Baroness Wentworth and Baroness Byron, nicknamed Annabella and commonly known as Lady Byron, was the wife of poet George Gordon Byron, more commonly known as Lord Byron.
Benjamin Robert Haydon painted The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840 a year after the event that today is in the National Portrait Gallery. This very large and detailed work shows Alexander as Treasurer of the new Society.The painting portrays the 1840 meeting and was completed the next year. The new society's mission was "The universal extinction of slavery and the slave trade and the protection of the rights and interests of the enfranchised population in the British possessions and of all persons captured as slaves."
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The convention's organising committee had asked the Reverend Benjamin Godwin to prepare a paper on the ethics of slavery.The convention unanimously accepted his paper which condemned not just slavery but also the world's religious leaders and every community who had failed to condemn the practise. The convention resolved to write to every religious leader to share this view. The convention called on every religious communities to eject any supporters of slavery from their midst.
George William Alexander reported on his visits in 1839, with James Whitehorn, to Sweden and the Netherlands to discuss the conditions of slaves in the Dutch colonies and in Suriname. In Suriname, he reported, there were over 100,000 slaves with an annual attrition rate of twenty per cent. The convention prepared open letters of protest to the respective sovereigns.
Joseph Pease spoke and accused the British government of being complicit in the continuing existence of slavery in India.
After leaving the convention on the first day, being denied full access to the proceedings, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, " walked home arm in arm, commenting on the incidents of the day, we resolved to hold a convention as soon as we returned home, and form a society to advocate the rights of women." Eight years later they did, hosting the Seneca Falls Convention in Seneca Falls, New York.
One hundred years later the Women's Centennial Congress was held in America to celebrate the progress that women had made since they were prevented from speaking at this conference.
|Prof William Adam||UK||very top right||Professor|
|Edward Adey||UK||very far right||Baptist Minister|
|George William Alexander||UK||left||Financier|
|Stafford Allen||UK||left mid||Philanthropist|
|William Allen||UK||front mid left||Scientist|
|Sir Edward Baines||UK||left||Member of Parliament|
|Edward Baldwin||UK||right front||Former Attorney-General of New South Wales|
|Edward (Jonas) Barrett||US||far right||Former Slave|
|Richard Barrett||Jamaica||very far right|
|Isaac Bass||UK||far right|
|Henry Beckford||Jamaica||front centre||Former Slave|
|Mrs John Beaumont||UK||front far right|
|George Bennett||UK||right front|
|Rev. Dr. Thomas Binney||UK||far right||Minister|
|James Gillespie Birney||US||left||Attorney|
|John Birt||US||back far right|
|W. T. Blair||UK||mid|
|William Boulbee||UK||far right|
|Samuel Bowly||UK||far left back||Advocate|
|Anne Isabella, Lady Byron||UK||bonneted far right|
|Tapper Cadbury||UK||right back row||Businessman|
|Mary Clarkson||UK||bonnet left||Speaker's daughter in law|
|Thomas Clarkson||UK||main speaker||Abolitionist Speaker|
|Daniel O'Connell||Ireland||far left||Member of Parliament|
|Francis Augustus Cox||UK||left||Minister|
|Isaac Crewdson||UK||back row||Minister|
|John Cropper||UK||right front||Philanthropist|
|William Dawes||UK||far left||Royal Marine Officer|
|Sir John Eardley-Wilmot, 1st Baronet||UK||mid left||Member of Parliament|
|John Ellis||UK||far right||Member of Parliament|
|Josiah Forster||UK||front mid right||Philanthropist|
|Samuel Gurney||UK||under speaker||Banker|
|George Head Head||UK||Front right||Banker|
|Rev. John Keep||US||?||Minister|
|William Knibb||Jamaica||front mid right||Minister|
|Samuel Jackman Prescod||Barbados||front middle||Journalist|
|William Morgan||UK||middle front||Lawyer|
|William Harris Murch||UK||yes||Minister|
|John Scoble||Canada||front right||Lawyer|
|Joseph Ketley||Guyana||front right||Minister|
|George Thompson||UK & US||front mid right||Member of Parliament|
|J. Harfield Tredgold||South Africa||under speaker||Chemist|
|Stephen Lushington||UK||left||Member of Parliament|
|Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Baronet||UK||left||Member of Parliament|
|Constantine Richard MoorsomVice Admiral||UK||left||Royal Navy Officer|
|Dr George Prince||UK||?|
|Joseph Sturge||UK||left front||Minister|
|Joseph Marriage||UK||left front|
|Samuel Fox||UK||left back|
|Louis Celeste Lecesne||UK||left back|
|Robert Greville||UK||far left||Botanist|
|Joseph Pease||UK||mid right||Minister|
|Richard D. Webb||Ireland||right||Publisher|
|Rev. Thomas Scales||UK||right front||Minister|
|Rev. Thomas Swan||UK||right||Baptist Minister|
|Rev. Edward Steane||UK||right||Minister|
|Jonathon MillerColonel||US||right front||United States Army Officer|
|Charles StuartCaptain||Jamaica||right||Royal Navy Officer|
|Sir John Jeremie||Colonies||rbbb||Judge|
|Charles Stovel||UK||far right front||Minister|
|Richard Peek||UK||far right front||Sheriff of London|
|John Sturge||UK||far right|
|Robert Forster||UK||very far right||Philanthropist|
|Cyrus Pitt Grosvenor||US||far right||Minister|
|Henry Sterry (committee)||UK||far right|
|Peter Clare||UK||far right|
|Rev. J.H. Johnson||UK||far right|
|Dr. Thomas Price||UK||far right|
|Joseph Reynolds||UK||far right|
|Samuel Wheeler||UK||far right|
|Wiliam Fairbank||UK||far right|
|Rev. John Woodmark||UK||far right|
|William Smeal||UK||far right||Minister|
|James Carlile||Ireland||far right||Minister|
|John Howard Hinton||UK||far right||Minister|
|John Angell James||Ireland||far right||Minister|
|Joseph Cooper||UK||far right|
|Dr. Richard Robert Madden||Ireland/ Jamaica||far right||Doctor|
|Alderman Thomas Bulley||UK||far right|
|Isaac Hodgson||UK||far right|
|Edward Smith||UK||far right|
|Sir John Bowring||UK||far right||Member of Parliament|
|Anne Knight||UK||bonneted far right||Wright|
|C. Edwards Lester||US||far right||Writer|
|Thomas Pinches||?||far right|
|David Turnbull||UK||far right||Author|
|John Steer||UK||very far right|
|Henry Tuckett||UK||very far right|
|James Mott||US||very far right||Merchant|
|Richard Rathbone||UK||very far right||Businessman|
|Wendell Phillips||US||very far right||Attorney|
|M. L'Instant||Haiti||front far right|
|Henry Stanton||US||front far right||Attorney|
|Mrs Elizabeth Tredgold||South African||back row right|
|T.M. McDonnell||UK||very far right||Minister|
|Mary Anne Rawson||UK||far right|
|Elizabeth Pease||UK||very far right||Suffragist|
|Jacob Post||UK||very far right||Minister|
|Amelia Opie||UK||front far right||Novelist|
|Rev. Thomas Morgan||UK||mid right||Minister|
|Elizabeth Cady Stanton||US||No||married to Henry Stanton|
|Elizabeth Jesser Reid||??||No|
|Norton Strange Townshend||US||No||Doctor|
|Rev. A Harvey||UK||No||Minister|
|Elizabeth Ann Ashurst Bardonneau||UK||No|
|William H. Ashurst||UK||No||Solicitor|
|Sir George Strickland, 7th Baronet||UK||No||Member of Parliament|
|William Busfield||UK||No||Member of Parliament|
|Ellis Cunliffe Lister||UK||No||Member of Parliament|
|James Canning Fuller||US||No|
|Samuel Joseph May||US||No||Minister|
|John Greenleaf Whittier||US||No||Poet|
|Charles Pelham Villiers||UK||No||Member of Parliament|
|Matilda Ashurst Biggs||UK||No|
|Ann Greene Phillips||US||No|
|Charles Lenox Remond||US||No||Freeman|
|Nathaniel Peabody Rogers||US||No||Publisher|
|Benjamin Barron Wiffen||UK||No||Businessman|
Maria Weston Chapman was an American abolitionist. She was elected to the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1839 and from 1839 until 1842, she served as editor of the anti-slavery journal The Non-Resistant.
Henry Brewster Stanton was an American abolitionist, social reformer, attorney, journalist and politician. His writing was published in the New York Tribune, the New York Sun, and William Lloyd Garrison's Anti-Slavery Standard and The Liberator. He was elected to the New York State Senate in 1850 and 1851. His wife, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was a world renown leading figure of the early women's rights movement.
The Anti-Slavery Society was the everyday name of two different British organisations.
John Scoble was a British abolitionist and political figure in Canada West.
David Turnbull was a leading 19th-century abolitionist and a British consul to Cuba. Turnbull, a Scotsman, was a key participant at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention of the Anti-Slavery Society. Turnbull was blamed for creating a revolt in Cuba that resulted in 1844 being known as the Year of the Lash.
William Forster was a preacher, Quaker elder and a fervent abolitionist. He was an early member of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1839. It was William and Stephen Grellet who introduced Elizabeth Fry to her life's work with prisons, but it was William's brother, Josiah, who accompanied Fry on her tour and inspection of prisons in France.
James Mott was a Quaker leader, teacher, and merchant as well as an anti-slavery activist.
George William Alexander (1802–1890) was an English financier and philanthropist. He was the founding Treasurer of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1839. The American statesman Frederick Douglass said that he "has spent more than an American fortune in promoting the anti-slavery cause ..."
Josiah Forster was an English teacher and philanthropist. He was an early member of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1839 and a supporter of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Both he and his wife were senior figures in the British Quakers.
George Bradburn was an American politician and Unitarian minister in Massachusetts known for his support for abolitionism and women's rights. He attended the 1840 conference on Anti-Slavery in London where he made a stand against the exclusion of female delegates. In 1843 he was with Frederick Douglass on a lecture tour in Indiana when they were attacked. Lydia Maria Child wrote with regard to his work on anti-slavery that he had " a high place among the tried and true."
Mary Grew was an Anti-Slavery activist. She was a public speaker when abolitionism was unpopular. She attended and was prevented from speaking at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840. After slavery was abolished she turned her attention to preaching and women's suffrage.
Mary Anne Rawson (1801–1887) was an abolitionist. She was a campaigner with the Tract Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society, Italian nationalism, Child labour, but above all anti-slavery. She was first involved with a Sheffield group who successfully campaigned for people to boycott sugar from the West Indies, as it was produced by slave labor. She is pictured attending the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840.
Captain Charles Stuart was an Anglo-Canadian abolitionist in the early-to-mid-19th century. After leaving the army, he was a writer, but was notable for his opposition to slavery.
The Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (1833–1840) was an abolitionist, interracial organization in Boston, Massachusetts, in the mid-19th century. "During its brief history ... it orchestrated three national women's conventions, organized a multistate petition campaign, sued southerners who brought slaves into Boston, and sponsored elaborate, profitable fundraisers."
The Edinburgh Ladies' Emancipation Society was a leading abolitionist group based in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the nineteenth century. The women associated with the organisation are considered "heroines" and the impact of these abolitionist organisations for women are thought to have had a notional impact.
Lucy Townsend was a British abolitionist. She started the first Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society in Birmingham, UK, titled The Ladies' Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves. Although slavery had been abolished in the UK in 1807, her society was a model for others in Britain and America which campaigned to end slavery in the West Indies and US. The British Ladies' Society's role in abolitionism is considered to have had an international impact.
Colonel Jonathan Peckham Miller (1797–1847) was an American abolitionist. He served in Greece and returned to be a politician standing up for the rights of slaves and women. He and Sarah Arms Miller used their house as a station on the Underground Railroad.
Stafford Allen was a British industrialist, abolitionist, Quaker and philanthropist. He founded the company Stafford Allen and Sons. He supported a number of causes and after fifty years of support he was made a Vice-President of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.