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28 October 2014

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You are in: Lincolnshire > Abolition > John Wesley - Campaigner for Freedom

John Wesley founder of the Methodist church.

John Wesley founder of the Methodism

John Wesley - Campaigner for Freedom

John Wesley the founder of the Methodist church was a strong campaigner for the abolition of slavery even before it aroused public interest.

He first came into contact with Slavery when he went to preach at the British colony of Georgia in America between 1736 and 1737.

Though his trip to convert people to the Methodist way of life was not a success, he was not happy seeing the way slaves were treated on the plantations.

During this time period there was also some written material on the plight of people taken from Africa like Thomas Southerne's play Oroonoko, which was based on Aphra Behn's novel of the same name, and which related the tragedy of Oroonoko, an African prince kidnapped and sold into slavery.

However he did not take any action until he was on his way back to England where according to his journals he taught a black man to read and write on the ship.

The Rectory in Epworth is where he was born.

John's birthplace the Rectory in Epworth

Wesley was inspired to write a pamphlet called Thought Upon Slavery which explained Africans were enslaved/captured and treated. This was not welcomed by plantation owners and groups who had a lot invested in the slave trade.

John continued to campaign against slavery throughout his life. He even included it in his sermons particularly in Bristol, one of the foremost slave trade ports at the time. It was quite a dangerous thing to do and in one of his sermons there were some public protests.

Two significant things Wesley did were:

  • In August 1787 he wrote to the Abolition committee expressing his support and vowing to reprint his pamphlet Thoughts Upon Slavery, although this did not happen until 1792.
  • He also wrote to William Wilberforce urging him to continue in parliament to get a bill to abolish Slavery passed. Wesley wrote this letter six days before his death on the 2nd of March 1791.

last updated: 13/06/2008 at 15:45
created: 28/02/2007

You are in: Lincolnshire > Abolition > John Wesley - Campaigner for Freedom

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