Debate on a Motion for the Abolition of the Slave-Trade

SLAVERY   |   HOUSE OF COMMONS

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"THE ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE WAS INDISPENSABLY REQUIRED… NOT ONLY BY RELIGION AND MORALITY, BUT BY EVERY PRINCIPLE OF SOUND POLICY": TWO CRUCIAL DEBATES ON THE ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE, IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, 1792

(SLAVERY) (HOUSE OF COMMONS). The Debate on a Motion for the Abolition of the Slave-Trade, in the House of Commons on Monday and Tuesday, April 18 and 19, 1791. WITH: The Debate on a Motion for the Abolition of the Slave-Trade, in the House of Commons, on Monday the Second of April, 1792. London: James Phillips, 1792. First edition, contemporary three-quarter morocco rebacked to style, marbled paper boards. $2200.

Second and first edition, respectively, of these two important government publications regarding Britain's late 18th-century debate over abolishing the slave trade.

These debates on ending the slave trade include speeches by leading abolitionists such as Wilberforce and Pitt. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, "The select committee resumed its deliberations in February 1791, and Wilberforce, encouraged by a letter from the dying John Wesley, returned to his assiduous gathering of material. On 18 April, in a four-hour speech that showed his mastery of the evidence and arguments, he moved for leave to bring in an Abolition Bill. Subsequent debate was lively and extended over two evenings, but when the House divided at 3:30 on the morning of 20 April, Wilberforce was defeated by 163 votes to 88. The outbreak both of Revolution in France and, early in 1791, of a slave rebellion in the French colony of San Domingo (Haiti) had heightened insecurities and led the majority of MPs to oppose a measure that they perceived as potentially destabilizing." The House of Commons returned to the subject of abolition again in February of 1792. Wilberforce seized the opportunity to once again put forth his views. Ultimately, a motion to add the word "gradually" to Wilberforce's motion to abolish the slave trade was passed by a majority of 68. These debates powerfully show the fight to end slavery, a goal that would not be achieved until the early 19th century. With a single leaf of advertisements at rear listing additional publications on the abolitionist movement, as well as a report on the slave rebellion in Haiti. This mixed edition includes the second edition of the debates on April 18-19, 1791—published only a year after the first—and a first edition of the debates on April 2, 1792.

A few closed tears, mainly to pages 73-76, light scattered soiling to interior, wear to original boards. A very good copy.

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