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The Glasgow Emancipation Society and the American Anti-Slavery Movement

Publication Date
  • E151 United States (General)
  • Jz International Relations
  • Da Great Britain
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Religious Science


This study reinterprets the history of the Glasgow Emancipation Society and its relationship to the American anti-slavery movement in the nineteenth century. It examines the role of economics, religion and reform, from Colonial times up to the US Civil War, in order to determine its influence on abolition locally and nationally. This thesis emphasizes the reformist tendencies of the Glasgow abolitionists and how this dynamic significantly influenced their adherence to the original American Anti-Slavery Society and William Lloyd Garrison. It questions the infallibility of the evangelical response to anti-slavery in Scotland, demonstrating how Scottish-American ecclesiastical ties, and the preservation of Protestant unity, often conflicted with abolitionist efforts in Glasgow. It also focuses on the true leaders of GES, persons often ignored in historical accounts concerning Scottish anti-slavery, which explains the motivation and rational behind the society’s zealous attitude and proactive policies. It argues that similar social, political and religious imperatives that affected the American movement likewise mirrored events in Scotland influencing Glaswegian anti-slavery. Lastly, it resurrects the legacy of the Glasgow Emancipation Society from its provincial role, showing it was, in fact, a leader in the British campaign against American slavery.

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