slave trade act of 1807

On this day in 1789 - William Wilberforce makes his first major speech on abolition in UK House of Commons, reasons the slave trade is morally reprehensible and an issue of natural justice.

Wilberforce, following a conversion experience and becoming an evangelical Christian, he became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

Olaudah Equiano also known as  Gustavus Vassa (c. 1745-1797) was a well-known freed African slave who lived in London. He was involved in the British abolitionist movement. His autobiography detailing his life as a slave was important in leading to the enactment of the Slave Trade Act 1807 which ended the slave trade in Britain and British colonies.

Black history month day 6: Olaudah Equiano.

Olaudah Equiano, also known as Gustavus Vaasa, was a prominent African in London. He was a freed slave who supported the British movement to end the slave trade. His autobiography, published in 1789, helped in the creation of the Slave Trade Act 1807 which ended the African trade for Britain and its colonies. Equiano was part of the Sons of Africa, an abolitionist group composed of prominent Africans living in Britain, and he was active among leaders of the anti-slave trade in the 1780s.

Equiano’s book, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African”, is one of the earliest-known examples of published writing by an African writer to be widely read in England. By 1792, it was a best seller: it has been published in Russia, Germany, Holland, and the United States. It was the first influential slave narrative of what became a large literary genre. Equiano’s experience in slavery was quite different from that of most slaves as he did not participate in field work. Rather, he served his owners personally and went to sea, was taught to read and write, and worked in trading. Even after his freedom he continued to be an explorer and travel extensively everywhere from the Arctic to the United States.

His Life as a freed slave was stressful, and he suffered from suicidal thoughts until he became a born-again Christian and found peace in his faith. He married in English woman, Susannah Cullen, and together they had two children.

Olaudah Equiano.

He is of my absolute favourites..

Olaudah Equiano was a freed slave, and was prominent in London afterwards, supporting campaigns against the slave trade, striving for the abolition of the trade. He came in contact with William Wilberforce after hearing that he too supported abolition and struggled to get supporters for his campaigns, and presented to him the chains and shackles used for the neck, legs and arms which would then be placed on the slaves as they worked. The two maintained a correspondence afterwards. He also wrote an autobiography, in which he described the horrors of being a slave. This book sold thousands of copies and helped in the passing of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.

In his autobiography, Equiano describes how he was captured with his sister, then shipped across to Barbados, then Virginia, where he was sold to a Royal Navy officer, Micheal Pascal whom renamed Equiano Gustavus Vassa after the King of Sweden. He then travelled with Pascal for eight years, during which he was baptized, and learned to read and write. In his biography Equiano describes how he was then sold to a prominent merchant, Robert King, in London. It was during this time that Equiano started earning his own money. While Equiano served as a deckhand, valet and barber for Robert King, her earned money by the means of trade on the side. It took him only three years to earn enough money to buy his freedom. Once he bought his freedom, Equiano describes how he spent the next 20 years of his life travelling the world, including trips to Turkey and the Artic.

Finally in 1786, he became largely involved in the movement for the abolition of slavery, and became a part fo the Sons of Africa, an abolitionist group, in the same year. Three years later, Equiano wrote his autobiography, titled ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African’, and travelled promoting the book. His writings became extremely popular, and made him a very wealthy man. His autobiography is actually one of the first books published by an African writer.

Olaudah later married an Englishwoman, Susanna Cullen in 1792 and had two daughters with her: Joanna Vassa and Anna Maria Vassa. It was a marriage that he would include in editions of his autobiography from 1792 onwards. Susanna unfortunately did at age 34 in February 1796, and Equiano himself died just a year later on 31st March at the age of 52, though sources vary on this subject. Equiano’s place of burial is unknown, too. His youngest daughter, Anna Maria Vassa, died soon after at the age of four, leaving the only surving child, Joanna, with Equiano’s estate and wealth. I love this man, honestly. I tried to explain his life very simply for those who are not at all familiar with him.

Things great have small beginnings. Every downpour is just a raindrop; every fire is just a spark; every harvest is just a seed; every journey is just a step because without that raindrop there can be no shower; without that seed there can be no harvest; without that step there will be no journey.

William Wilberforce //

William Wilberforce was an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. In 1785, he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, which resulted in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured.