Hertfordshire Archives: Thomas Clarkson and the abolition of slavery
PUBLISHED: 17:53 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:05 20 February 2013
The Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies centre looks at the undinting dedication of Thomas Clarkson to the abolition of slavery
WALKING along the side of the 'Old A10' or the Cambridge Road at Wadesmill you notice a monument dedicated to Thomas Clarkson, a key figure in the campaign
to abolish the transatlantic slave trade, 200 years ago.
Born on 28 March 1760 in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, Thomas Clarkson was a relentless campaigner against slavery, described by Coleridge, the poet, as 'a giant with one idea'. He travelled 35,000 miles on horseback around Britain in the abolitionist cause and risked his life in Bristol and Liverpool gathering evidence from sailors and ship's surgeons to use in his campaign against the slave trade. In June 1785 he famously made the decision to devote his life to the abolition movement while resting at Wadesmill on his way to London from Cambridge. He had just won a prize at Cambridge University for his essay (in Latin) on 'Is it lawful to make slaves of others against their will?'. From then on, ending slavery became his driving passion for the remaining 61 years of his life. The monument marks this pivotal moment in the campaign.
The existing monument was erected by the roadside at Wadesmill by Mr Arthur Giles-Puller, of Youngsbury, and unveiled in October 1879. Over time it had fallen into disrepair and work has just finished on the project to restore and re-site the Thomas Clarkson monument. The restoration work was carried out with a Heritage lottery grant in partnership with the county council and Thundridge Parish Council.
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