A Caution to Great Britain

BENEZET Anthony (1785.)


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and Her Colonies, in a short Representation of the Calamitous State of the Enslaved Negroes in the British Dominions.

A New Edition. 8vo. Plain wrappers. Some light foxing, mainly to latter leaves. Lower fore-corners of first few pages creased. 46, [1]ads.pp. London, James Phillips,

First published in 1766 in Philadelphia with the slightly alternate title A Caution and Warning to Great Britain and Her Colonies... this important work did much to foster the movement for the abolition of the slave trade, and was widely disseminated on both sides of the Atlantic. 


A masterpiece of abolitionist rhetoric, Benezet describes his intention thus: "to make known the aggravated iniquity attending the practice of the Slave-Trade, whereby many thousands of our fellow creatures, as free as ourselves by nature, and equally with us the subjects of Christ's redeeming grace, are yearly brought into inextricable and barbarous bondage; and many, very many, to miserable and untimely ends." Most pertinently, he attacks the perceived efficiency of the triangular-trade, noting that Barbados requires an annual import of 5000 enslaved people to maintain the steady population of 8000 on the island's plantations, exposing the "uncommon and unsupportable hardship" of the "excessive labour which they undergo". He then compiles a tissue of evidence of these hardships from a wide range of contemporary accounts of early expeditions to Africa, the middle passage, and the conditions of slavery in the colonies. Sources include George Whitefield, Michel Adanson, William Bosman, William Smith, Andrew Brue - a veritable roll call of seventeenth and eighteenth century accounts of Western Africana. 


Sabin, 4670; Kress, 6408.

Stock Code: 208201

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