Topic 9 - Publicising the anti-slave trade campaign
Abolitionists worked hard to educate British people about the horrors of the slave trade. Telling people what happened in the trade was the first step in getting them to oppose it.
In early 1792 the abolitionist William Dickson toured Scotland publicising the anti-slave trade campaign. He hoped to persuade churches, town councils, merchant groups and colleges to send petitions opposing the trade to parliament. But first he had to make sure people understood the problem.
Resource 9A gives some extracts from William Dickson’s diary covering the North East leg of his Scottish tour. There is also a map of the North East (9B).
Print off a copy of the map of North East Scotland (9B).
Read the extracts from Dickson’s diary (9A) and mark on the map the route that Dickson took in North East Scotland.
What were Dickson’s main forms of transport? What is a post chaise?
What time of year did Dickson make his tour? How might this have caused difficulties for him?
Look at the language Dickson uses. Some of the words that were common in 1792 are less commonly used now. Write a definition for the words: zealous, insipid and languid. Use a dictionary if you get stuck.
Look again at Dickson’s language. Some of the words he uses don’t mean the same thing today. What does he mean when he describes someone as hearty? Or says that he waits on someone?
Write a list of all the problems that Dickson mentions in his diary. Tip. There are practical problems, but there are more general problems too.
More things to do
One of Dickson’s difficulties was that most Scottish people had never met an African person or thought about the slave trade. Is this still a problem for our society today? Are there issues we perhaps ignore because they seem too distant or foreign? Can you give any examples of such issues?
Imagine you are conducting a campaign like Dickson’s. What would your campaign be about? What issue or topic do you think people should know more about?
Tip. Your campaign can be about anything that interests you. It might be something like protecting a rare species of animal, starting a youth club, standing up to bullying, or saving a beautiful landscape from being built upon.
Write an action plan for your campaign. How would you tell people about it? What ways of spreading information could you use that Dickson didn’t have in 1792?