Lesson 3

3. Did Britain really engage in an ‘inglorious crusade’ against Slavery?

3. Did Britain really engage in an ‘inglorious crusade’ against Slavery?

What are we learning about?

In introducing W.E.H Lecky’s famous declaration of Britain’s steadfast, ‘inglorious crusade’ against Slavery, students are asked to consider if such a continuity in public attitudes against slavery existed during our period of study. To complexify this, we also consider Hochschild’s concept of the ‘tipping point’ and how it could be applied to our enquiry question. Using our timeline and sources of evidence, students are asked to track ‘British public’ opinion both during and then after abolition. Whilst recognising the complexity in defining one ‘British Public’, students will use evidence to consider whether Lecky was right to imply that nothing changed in public attitudes over our period of study.

Lesson Objectives

  • To define ‘public opinion’ and Hochschild’s ‘tipping point’.
  • To analyse where & how to look for public opinion between 1760 and 1870
  • To make inferences from sources of evidence to support or challenge Hochschild’s interpretation.

PowerPoint Lesson

Download here – Lesson 3

Suggested Tasks


Key Figures

Key Historical Actors

  • James Somerset
  • Olaudah Equiano
  • George Canning
  • Edward Long
  • General Vaughan
  • Thomas Clarkson
  • William Wilberforce
  • Elizabeth Heyrick
  • William Cobbett
  • Mary Prince
  • Thomas Carlyle
  • George Cruikshank

Key Historians

  • W E H Lecky
  • David Olusoga
  • Adam Hochschild

Essential Resources

Lesson 3 Notetaker
Print this notetaker for students. It includes all the sources referred to in the lesson (see below) and allows space for students to take notes around them.

List of sources:

  • Source A – Edward Long, Candid reflections upon the judgement lately awarded by the Court of King’s Bench in Westminster Hall on what is commonly called The Negroe Cause by a Planter, (London: t. Lowndes and Co., 1772)
  • Source B – In 1794 the commander of British forces on Jamaica, General Vaughan wrote an urgent letter to the Secretary of War in London. He suggested that the British should raise an army to fight in the Caribbean
  • Source C – An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade [25th March 1807.]
  • Source D – AMELIORATION OF THE CONDITION OF THE SLAVE POPULATION IN THE WEST INDIES. 16 March 1824 – measures which came to be known as the ‘Canning Resolutions’.
  • Source E – ‘John Bull taking a clear view of the Negro Slavery Question, 1826’ Cruikshank’s 1826 cartoon published in London. [England] : Published July 1826 by G. Humphrey, 24 St. James’s Street, 1826
  • Source F – Heyrick, E. (1826) Immediate not gradual Abolition. – page 19-21.
  • Source G – Cobbett’s Political Register (1823) Volumes 47-48. edited by William Cobbett
  • Source H – ‘The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave, related by herself’, London, 1831
  • Source I – Cobbett’s 1833 ‘Change of Heart’ on Emancipation due to the desires of his Oldham Constituents Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates 3rd series, XVI (Mar. 1833), Mar. 18, pp. 729-30
  • Source J – Carlyle, T. (1849) Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question

Extra Resources

Abolitionism’s shifting tectonic plates – Extract from BBC Documentary – Race: A History

Olusoga, D. Black and British – Chapter 6 ‘The Monster is Dead’
Olusoga provides a Focus on when the big change happened and who can take responsibility for it. Critiques Wilberfest and also the focus on 1807.

Hochschild, A. Bury the Chains – Extracts from the Introduction and Chapter 9
In both the Introduction and Chapter 9