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21 August 2014
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Abolition of the Slave Trade

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The British Slave Trade and its abolition 1770-1807

Transcript of 'Who were the unsung heroes?' clip

Reporter, Mara Menzies:

The struggle to fight racism and gain support for abolition was lengthy and frustrating. It was the working class, rather than the educated middle class, that helped bring about change. The ordinary man in the street had more social conscience and empathy with the enslaved than any other class.

Rev. Dr Iain Whyte:

Paisley was a centre of the working class agitation of the weavers and Paisley provided a lot of support for the petitions against the slave trade, big public meetings there with ministers and magistrates, but also a lot of ordinary people who thought this is wrong.

Reporter, Mara Menzies:

The Scottish people contributed enormously to the campaign. By 1792, a third of all petitions sent to parliament came from Scotland. While Wilberforce, Clarkson and Sharp took most of the credit, there are always unsung heroes campaigning in their shadows.

Rev. Dr Iain Whyte:

There was a lot of support behind the scenes given by women, but of course, they couldn’t make speeches or attend public meetings because women were seen to be not suitable in that time.

Reporter, Mara Menzies:

Women played a significant role in the abolitionist campaign. Having no political voice, they did what they could by organising petitions and boycotting sugar produced by chattelled slaves. They bought specially designed items and displayed them to show their support for the abolitionist movement.

Rev. Dr Iain Whyte:

It was almost the first sort of political artefacts, the way in which now people use t-shirts and this kind of thing, they used pieces of pottery to indicate their support.

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