The movement to abolish the Transatlantic slave trade was a long and difficult struggle. Campaigners for abolition used every means they could, including sugar boycotts, meetings, petitions, publications, and circulating images showing its shameful nature, to bring the issue to people’s attention in Europe. Enslaved Africans played an essential part, having long resisted their enslavement and treatment through ‘go-slows’, revolts, intellectual and religious claims, and demonstrable capacity to retain and transmit their African or creole (mixed) cultures and languages. Escaped or freed slaves forced judges and social elites to confront the issue through court cases, publications, and performances. Propelled by much of this pressure and evidence, William Wilberforce led the long political campaign to outlaw the slave trade in Britain.
Between the 1500s and early 1800s, millions of Africans were kidnapped, sold and transported to the Americas to work as slaves, in unimaginably cruel conditions, on hugely profitable plantations, producing sugar, tobacco and other commodities. These plantations were largely owned by Europeans and Euro-Americans. Britain grew rich on the profits from this transatlantic slave trade, which were reinvested into other economic sectors. Only in the late eighteenth century did public opinion slowly begin to turn against the trade in Africans, and campaigners for abolition used every way they could to bring the issue to people’s attention in Europe.
The headwrap originated in sub-Saharan Africa. For centuries, it has been worn by women in different African countries and regions, in different forms, to reflect both communal and personal identities – which clan or tribe they belonged to, whether they were married, widowed, young or old, for example. This cotton kerchief, or headwrap, belonged to Nancy Burns (1800 – 1849). Born in Albany, New York, the daughter of slaves, she would eventually find work as a house servant and was painted in a portrait wearing the item in the 1840s. It represents a long history of cultural identity associated with women of African origin – particularly African-American women - that is still very much alive today.
Kevin Dalton Johnson's Captured Africans is a memorial to enslaved Africanstransported on ships originating out of Lancaster as part of the Transatlantic slave trade. It stands on St George’s Quay in Lancaster and was unveiled in 2005.
Cotton was one of the latest textile fibres to be introduced to Britain as a raw material within a manufacturing system, but between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it rose to prominence as a cornerstone of the British economy. Cotton manufactures stimulated industrialisation, global commercial influence, and new communities of labour. This is one of five early sample books illustrating the cotton and calico designs produced by the textile industry in Salford between 1769 and 1851.
June 13, 2018 - Richard Moss
The British Library follows the journeys of the man who opened up the world during the Age of Revolution in James Cook: The Voyages Captain James Cook’s name has always been synonymous with exploration and adventure, but even in the 1770s when the American Revolutionary War was underway, such was his fame that none other […]
This print was made to highlight the inhumane conditions under which enslaved Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean, forced to make the long voyage from West Africa to the Americas, tightly packed into the hold of ships and held in chains.
This set of dentures is fitted with real human teeth, extracted from the mouths of the dead.
New Lanark, a village on the River Clyde near Glasgow, was a revolutionary industrial and housing complex, combining a cotton mill with purpose-built housing, education and social care for its workers and their families.
This is a Royal Naval undress coat of the standard pattern for 1795-1812, worn by Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson when commanding the British fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. In this major naval battle, the British defeated the combined fleets of French and Spanish navies, ending Napoleon's threat to invade Britain. However, Admiral Nelson was shot at the height of the battle and mortally wounded. Ten years later, Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo would end his threat to Britain forever.