Thomas Clarkson papers
Scope and contents
Thomas Clarkson (b. 1760 d. 1846) was a renowned English abolitistionist who spent his adult life fighting to end slavery. As a leader in the British anti-slavery society, Clarkson was instrumental in getting the English Parliament to ban the slave trade in 1807 and to abolish the institution of slaver ini 1833.
The majority of this small collection is comprised of correspondence from Thomas Clarkson and his wife, Catherine, to her father, William Buck. These letters deal mainly with personal family concerns. Other letters refer to historical events and meetings. A noteworthy letter dated October 11, 1818 from Clarkson to his wife refers to an interview between him and "the Emperor" [Alexander I of Russia] and alludes to "Christophe" [Henri Christophe (1767 - 1820), a Haitian revolutionary and first King of Haiti] and "Owen," [Robert Owen (1771-1858), a wealthey Welsh factory owner who fought for social reform in England and America]. Clarkson expressed hope that the Emperor may influence the French against an invasion of Haiti.
Notable writings by Clarkson include the original essay An Liceat Nolentes In Servitutom Dare? [Is It Lawful to Make Slaves of Others Against Their Will?]. This essay, written in Latin, won the Chancellor's Prize at Cambridge College, England in 1785 and served as the basis for the expanded work, Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African published in 1786. Another item of interest is a handwritten journal dated August 1789 recounting Clarkson's trip to France and his observations in Paris of French Revolutionary activity, particularly the fallen Bastille. There is a copy of the New Testament with extensive marginalia written by Clarkson and inscribed to his grandson, Thomas Clarkson III.
The collection includes two medallions. The metal medallion was designed for the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society convention held in London in 1840. The front side of the medallion is a raised portrait of Thomas Clarkson, then president of the Society. The reverse side is the rendering of an African kneeling, shackled in wrist chains, with the inscription "Am I not a man and a brother". The second medallion is a cameo rendering of the "Am I not a man and a brother" design produced by Wedgewood Potteries, Staffordshire, England. Other items include a lock of Clarkson's hair, his autograph, and silhouette portraits of him and his grandson, Thomas III.
Related only tangentially is a collection of letters written by Clarkson's daughter-in-law, Mary Dickinson. These letters describe festivities of the household of Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Queen Victoria at Sandringham Palace from 1863 to 1871.
The Thomas Clarkson Papers were purchased from the Clarkson family by the Phelps-Stokes Fund. The Thomas Clarkson Papers were presented as a gift to Atlanta University at the dedication service for the Trevor Arnett Library in April 1932.
- Clarkson, Thomas (Person)
- 1760 March 28
- Thomas Clarkson born in Cambridgeshire, England
- 1785 June
- Essay entitles An Liceat Nolentes In Servitutom Dare? [Is It Lawful to Make Slaves of Others Against Their Will?] won Chancellor's prize at Cambridge College
- 1786 June
- Prize essay was expanded and published in England, entitled Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African
- Clarkson sought French abolition of slavery during a visit to Paris
- 1796 January 21
- Married Catherine Buck
- 1796 October 19
- Son Thomas born
- 1807 March 25
- English Parliament banned slave trade
- 1808 May
- Clarkson published History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-trade by the British Parliament
- Clarkson traveled to France to influence opinion on anti-slavery measures
- The English anti-slavery campaign to outlaw the entire institution of slavery began
- Emancipation Act, freeing slaves in England, was passed
- Son Thomas died in accident
- Presided at anti-slavery convention in London
- 1846 September 26
- Died in Suffolk, England
2 Linear feet
2 Linear feet
Language of Materials
- Thomas Clarkson papers, 1785-1871
- Finding aid prepared by Alexander Bernet, 2002 April.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
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- Language of description note