Clarkson, Thomas

Clarkson, Thomas was born March 26, 1760, at Wisbeach, Cambridgeshire, where his father, a clergyman, was master of the free grammar-school. He studied at St. John's College, Cambridge, and became a promoter of the anti-slavery agitation in Great Britain by a Latin prize-essay which he wrote in 1785, on the question, "Is it right to make slaves against their will?" In order to pursue the agitation of the question, he relinquished his chances of advancement in the Church, for which he was intended, and in which he had taken deacon's orders. His essay was translated into English, and had an extensive circulation. Thenceforth his life was devoted to the anti- slavery cause. He labored indefatigably to bring to light the iniquities and cruelties of the slave-trade, traveling some years thousands of miles in furtherance of his benevolent designs, and publishing on the subject almost every year. He lived to see not only the slavetrade abolished (in 1807), but the abolition of slavery itself in the British West Indies in 1833. He also took an active part in other benevolent schemes, particularly in the establishment of institutions for seamen. He died Sept. 26, 1846. His principal writings are, History of the Abolition of the Slave-trade (2 vols. 8vo, 1808; new ed., with Preface by Brougham, 1839); A Portrait of Quakerism, 1807; and a Life of William Penn, 1813. See Taylor, Biog. Sketch of T. Clarkson (Lond. 1847, 12mo).

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