Bury the Chains

Bury the Chains

Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free An Empire's Slaves

Book - 2005
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From the author of the prize-winning King Leopold's Ghost comes a taut, thrilling account of the first grass-roots human rights campaign, which freed hundreds of thousands of slaves around the world.
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.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
ISBN: 9780618104697
Branch Call Number: 326.80941 H685
Characteristics: viii, 468 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.


From Library Staff

List - The Book of Negroes
OttawaReads Mar 19, 2018

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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Nov 19, 2020

Decoupling of slavery from the British economy. Demonstrating decoupling malicious and dangerous content creation in the digital landscape.

Oct 06, 2020

This inspirational tale documents the true story of what could arguably qualify as the very first grassroots human rights campaign: The fight to ban slavery in the British Empire. Prizewinning author Adam Hochschild shines.

Nov 09, 2015

Too bad there's not an audio book & read by Morey as in To End all Wars - excellent.

Sep 27, 2012

Adam Hochschild is one of the most eminent historians and a great story teller. One regrets
that the book has come to an end, even though Mr. Hochschild just told you about atrocities you previously couldn't have imagined. His historical analysis is woven around the lives of
men and women in one way or another connected to the slave trade. Adam Hochschild puts
"his and her story" in the context of the larger historical dvelopments in the struggle for
human rights. It is history but at times reads like a novel because Adam Hochschild includes
many details about the lives of people even if they are not crucial for the subject, e.g. the
tangled love lives of some people otherwise involved in the fight against slavery.

suzygill Sep 12, 2012

A great book. It reads like a novel outlining the long struggle by English reformers like William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson to abolish the slave trade in Britain and its colonies.

The slave trade was well entrenched and was a great source of wealth for many in Britain, including some in the Church of England and the abolitionists faced a well resourced and well organised opposition.

The book also sets the struggle into its social and political context within Britain and in France, West Africa and the West Indies.

Slavery of African people was an accepted part of the 17th and 18th Century global economy, yet this brave and determined group were able to overcome great odds.

My only quibble is that it could have contained some maps. Well worth reading and very encouraging.

Aug 21, 2012

Recommended by Ruth S


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Oct 06, 2020

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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Oct 06, 2020

Prizewinning author Adam Hochschild shines.

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