Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Background Information

Inspirational people stand up for what they believe. They may campaign for what is morally right, or protest against what is morally wrong. We may agree with their methods, or we may disagree, either through personal choice or historical perspective.

Campaigns and protests may help or hinder a cause, depending on the historical consequences we see of people’s actions.

Abolition and anti-slavery movements within Britain started in the late 1700s. Activists in Africa and the Americas had fought slavery at every level since the 15th century. In 1791, West African born author Olaudah Equiano wrote to the Leeds Mercury, thanking the good people of Yorkshire for their work in the fight against slavery.

In 1807, the British government abolished the transatlantic slave trade. This outlawed the trafficking and sale of human beings, but still allowed the ownership of enslaved people.

 Ownership was abolished in 1833, and owners were compensated for their loss of income, but those who were enslaved received nothing. For more information on slave ownership in Leeds, see ‘The Ordinary People of Leeds who Owned Enslaved People'  Some of the major opposition to slavery came from religious groups, such as the Quakers, who as a group understood the institution of slavery as morally wrong (although there were some individual Quakers who owned slaves or profited directly from the trade).

Page from a scrap book printed brown on white paper, with patterned border. There is an image of a kneeling, chained enslaved African woman. Below the image is a list of the Scripture Evidence Against Slavery, with Bible quotes.
Scrapbook Page Showing Scripture Evidence Against Slavery