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28 July 2014
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Abolition of the Slave Trade


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Thomas Clarkson

(1760 – 1846)

Extract from Vol 1 of The History of the Rise, Progress and Accomplishment of The Abolition of The African Slave Trade by the British Parliament (London, 1808) by Thomas Clarkson.

There were specimens of articles in Liverpool…those of different iron instruments used in this cruel traffic. I bought a pair of the iron hand-cuffs with which the men-slaves are confined…I bought also a pair of shackles for the legs…also a thumb-screw…the thumbs are put into this instrument through the two circular holes at the top of it. By turning a key, a bar rises up…and the pressure upon them becomes painful…this…I was then informed, was applied by way of punishment, in the case of obstinacy in the slaves…I bought another instrument…on asking the seller of the instruments use…he replied…that the slaves were frequently so sulky, as to shut their mouths against all sustenance (food)…and…with a determination to die…that it was necessary their mouths should be forced open to throw in nutriment, that they who had purchased them might incur no loss by their death.


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