Scottish factor in the fight against American slavery, 1830-1870
Rice, C. Duncan
This thesis studies the history of the Scottish anti-slavery societies after the abolition of British West Indian slavery in 1833. These societies aimed at abolition of slavery throughout the world. In practice, however, because of the close tics between Britain and North America, they focused their attention on Negro slavery in the Southern States of the U. S. A. Due to the strong tradition of abolitionist enthusiasm in Scotland and the personal influence of George Thompson, the societies in Glasgow and Edinburgh wore founded before bodies with similar aims existed in England. Even before the anti-slavery movement split up in 1841, they maintained their independence, and in some cases differed from London abolitionists over the correct actions to be taken against slavery. By 1840, the American anti-slavery societies were divided Into a conservative faction or 'New Organisation', and a radical or Garrisonian faction referred to as the 'Old Organisation'. This split was revealed to British abolitionists at the 1840 London World's Anti-Slavery Convention, and they themselves divided in 1841 during the visit of the American Garrisonian abolitionist John Anderson Collins. In this division, the national anti-slavery society took a conservative or 'New Organisation' standpoint. Groups of abolitionists in Glasgow and Edinburgh, allied with another group in Dublin, supported the 'Old Organisation' led by William Lloyd Garrison. Throughout the forties, this division persisted. Nevertheless, abolitionists continually tried to influence the relationship between the British churches and slavery. Three test-cases may be taken to show the way in which different denominations used the slavery issue to attack their rivals. The some concern over church policy on slavery appears in the fifties. The fifties also saw the 'Old Organisation'/''New Organisation' split persist, although the 'Old Organisation' now had many supporters in the provinces outside Scotland and Ireland, notably in Bristol. However, by the 1850's the movement In Scotland and elsewhere was going into a decline, although interest in slavery persisted until after the Civil War. British enthusiasm for Harriet Beecher Stowe was very different from the work of the old anti; slavery societies. Division and impotence to affect the American situation eventually hamstrung the British anti-slavery societies. The conclusions of the thesis are that the divisions in the British anti-slavery movement were identical to American ones, and that these divisions were used to gain advantage in Scottish or national disputes on other subjects. This demonstrates the extraordinarily close comity between the Atlantic middle classes in the middle third of the last century. It is also suggested that the relation between Scotland and London caused the Scottish abolitionists to behave differently in abolitionist controversies from the metropolitan leaders of the movement.