List of abolitionist forerunners

Thomas Clarkson (1760 – 1846), the pioneering abolitionist, prepared a "map" of the "streams" of "forerunners and coadjutors" of the abolitionist movement, which he published in his work, The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament published in 1808.[1] The map shows streams with various branches that led to the late-eighteenth-century movement that convinced the British Parliament to ban the slave trade. The list below is taken from Clarkson's map.

No women appear to be on the list, although many in fact were involved in the movement including Hannah More, Joanna Baillie, and Anna Laetitia Barbauld. James Oglethorpe does not appear on the list, even though he and other Georgia Trustees prohibited slavery in the Province of Georgia. Oglethorpe later collaborated in opposing the slave trade with Granville Sharp, whom Clarkson describes as "the father of the cause in England". Slavery as both a moral and legal concern arose in the early days of the Georgia Colony, which prohibited slavery in 1735 and was challenged by neighboring South Carolina, a slaveholding society.[2][3]

Many others who warrant mention may not acknowledged in Clarkson's list. A section is provided below for the addition of other forerunners. For a more comprehensive list that includes subsequent periods, see List of abolitionists.

Clarkson's listEdit

Clarkson's map

List of "forerunners and coajutors" on map:

Various forerunners to 1787Edit

Early Quakers in EnglandEdit

Quakers and/or abolitionists in America from 1688Edit

Various Quakers and/or abolitionists in England and AmericaEdit

Others, up to 1787Edit

Abolition forerunners not listed on the Clarkson mapEdit

Many of the London salons and circles of the 1770s and later took up the cause of antislavery, at least intellectually, thus paving the way for later action. Examples include Johnson's Circle, the Blue Stocking Society, and James Oglethorpe's associates.[4][5]


  1. ^ Clarkson, Thomas. The history of the rise, progress, and accomplishment of the abolition of the African slave-trade by the British Parliament. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  2. ^ Wilson, Thomas D. The Oglethorpe Plan: Enlightenment Design in Savannah and Beyond. Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press, 2012. See Epilogue.
  3. ^ Ettinger, Amos A. James Edward Oglethorpe: Imperial Idealist. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1936. Chapter IX.
  4. ^ Eger, Elizabeth. Bluestockings: Women of Reason from Enlightenment to Romanticism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
  5. ^ Wilson, Thomas D. The Oglethorpe Plan: Enlightenment Design in Savannah and Beyond. Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press, 2012, Epilogue.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Thomas Clarkson “map”