In 1792, 400,000 people put their signature to petitions calling for the abolition of the slave trade. Popular Politics and British Anti-Slavery explains how this remarkable expression of support for black people was organized and orchestrated, and how it contributed to the growth of popular politics in Britain. In particular, this study focuses on the growing assertiveness of the middle classes in the public sphere and their increasingly powerful role in influencing parliamentary politics from outside the confines of Westminster. The author also argues that abolitionists need to be understood not as 'Saints' but as practical men who knew all aobut the market and consumer choice. This pioneering book examines the opinion-building activities of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, the linkage between abolition, consumption and visual culture - cameos, trade tokens, prints, etc. - and the dynamics of abolition at the grass-roots level. A separate chapter on Thomas Clarkson reconsiders his role in the mobilisation of public opinion against the slave trade.
Popular Politics and British Anti-Slavery offers valuable new insights into the movement outside Parliament, its origins and the reasons for its vast popular appeal. Its cross-disciplinary approach will make it welcome to a broad spectrum of specialists and students.