Anti Slavery International

January 2023 marked the the bicentenary of the formation in England of the organisation now known as Anti-Slavery International. It is the oldest international human rights organisation in the world.

Slavery had been outlawed in the British Empire in 1833, but it was imperfectly enforced and it still existed in other countires, most notably the US. Committed, highly motivated and well organised abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic realised that strength lay in coordinated action, and this led to the 1840 International Anti-Slavery Convention, held for 11 days in London. 500 delegates heard the main address by Thomas Clarkson, successor to William Wilberforce and Granville Sharp.

The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840 by Benjamin Robert Haydon oil on canvas, 1841 117 in. x 151 in. (2972 mm x 3836 mm) Given by British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1880

Many delegates came from the US, and some from Ireland; mainly Quakers. Daniel O’Connell, Irish Nationalist MP, made another in a long history of impassioned speeches against slavery.

An American freeman of African slave descent, Charles Lenox Redmond, was a delegate at the convention. he was employed as a lecturer by the American Anti-Slavery Society. After the convention he completed a lecture tour of Britain & Ireland. This included giving talks in Belfast, where he spoke in the Assembly Rooms in 1841. Remond returned to the US with a petition from the Hibernian Anti-Slavery Society, signed by more than 60,000 people, encouraging Irish people in the US to speak out in support of abolition. Lobbying from national and international pressure groups eventually resulted in the banning of slavery in the US in 1866.

Tours on each Sat from 10.30 at the Big Fish from 11.2.23 to 25.3.23. Info:

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