Bury the Chains
Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free An Empire's SlavesBook - 2005
In 1787, twelve men gathered in a London printing shop to pursue a seemingly impossible goal: ending slavery in the largest empire on earth. Along the way, they would pioneer most of the tools citizen activists still rely on today, from wall posters and mass mailings to boycotts and lapel pins. This talented group combined a hatred of injustice with uncanny skill in promoting their cause. Within five years, more than 300,000 Britons were refusing to eat the chief slave-grown product, sugar; London's smart set was sporting antislavery badges created by Josiah Wedgwood; and the House of Commons had passed the first law banning the slave trade.
However, the House of Lords, where slavery backers were more powerful, voted down the bill. But the crusade refused to die, fueled by remarkable figures like Olaudah Equiano, a brilliant ex-slave who enthralled audiences throughout the British Isles; John Newton, the former slave ship captain who wrote "Amazing Grace"; Granville Sharp, an eccentric musician and self-taught lawyer; and Thomas Clarkson, a fiery organizer who repeatedly crisscrossed Britain on horseback, devoting his life tothe cause. He and his fellow activists brought slavery in the British Empire to an end in the 1830s, long before it died in the United States. The only survivor of the printing shop meeting half a century earlier, Clarkson lived to see the day when a slave whip and chains were formally buried in a Jamaican churchyard.
Like Hochschild's classic King Leopold's Ghost, Bury the Chains abounds in atmosphere, high drama, and nuanced portraits of unsung heroes and colorful villains. Again Hochschild gives a little-celebrated historical watershed its due at last.
From Library Staff
Hochschild, previously known for King Leopold's Ghost, here tackles the absorbing history of the abolition movement in England. It begins with 12 angry men meeting in a printer's shop in London in 1787; these men succeed in mobilizing a nation, resulting in boycotts of slave-made sugar and petiti... Read More »
An account of the human rights movement which originated in England during the 1780s and resulted in the freeing of thousands of slaves around the world. In 2006, this title won the Lionel Gelber Prize, an annual award created in 1989 by the Canadian diplomat to honour outstanding books about po... Read More »
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Documenting the fight to ban slavery in the British Empire, BURY THE CHAINS: PROPHETS AND REBELS IN THE FIGHT TO FREE AN EMPIRE'S SLAVES (Houghton Mifflin, $26.95) is inspirational and gripping. Facing impossible odds, the prophets and rebels of the subtitle set out to accomplish the "inevitable" in a grassroots campaign for human rights.
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