Bury The Chains – the struggle to abolish slavery

Published on: Author: admin

Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fight for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. [William Morris]

Adam Hochschild quotes Morris in the epilogue to his excellent book?Bury The Chains: The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery, which I have just finished reading.

Hochschild has done his research and, as Ian Thomson wrote in the?Daily Telegraph

?has a novelist?s flair for narrative, and this is a horrifically readable history ? a powerful account of the group of high-minded Englishmen who opposed a brute, mercantile greed and its arsenal of chains, whips and leg irons.

Why the quote from Morris? The British abolitionists of the 18th century fought from 1787 to abolish an evil trade in human beings, a trade that was abolished by Act of Parliament in 1807. Parliament voted through a further Act to abolish slavery itself and to emancipate the slaves in the British Empire in 1833. But the victory was tainted. Emancipation was to happen in two stages – former slaves were to work as ?apprentices? for six years from 1834 without pay before full emancipation would take effect.

Parliament also voted to recompense the former slave owners with