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The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions, Volume IIThe Long Eighteenth Century c. 1689-c. 1828$
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Andrew Thompson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702245

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198702245.001.0001

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Abolitionism and the Social Conscience

Abolitionism and the Social Conscience

(p.284) 14 Abolitionism and the Social Conscience
The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions, Volume II

G. M. Ditchfield

Oxford University Press

Explanations of the abolition of the slave trade have been the subject of intense historical debate. Earlier accounts tended to play up the role of individual, heroic abolitionists and their religious, particularly evangelical, motivation. Eric Williams argued that the decline in profitability of the ‘Triangular trade’ was important in persuading people that the slave trade hindered, rather than helped, economic progress. More recent work has rehabilitated the role of some abolitionists but has set this alongside the importance of campaigning and petitioning in shifting public opinion. The role that the slaves themselves played in bringing attention to their plight is also now recognized. Consequently, the importance of abolitionism for a sense of Dissenting self-identity and as part of broader attempts to influence social reform needs to be reconsidered.

Keywords:   abolitionism, Anthony Benezet, Evangelicalism, Methodism, Old Dissent, petitioning, Quakers, slavery, social conscience

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