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Title: To faithfully do our part : the contribution of Joseph Sturge to the anti-slavery movement in Britain and America with special reference to the principles which motivated his work
Author: Brown, Clare R.
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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Joseph Sturge was an Evangelical, a committed Quaker, a successful businessman and a tireless campaigner for social reform. As secretary and leading light of the Birmingham Anti-Slavery Society he played a key role in influencing and invigorating the anti-slavery movement in the early nineteenth century, in both Great Britain and the United States. This thesis examines his role and approach in that campaign and looks closely at his purpose and motivation. Sturge's involvement with the Birmingham Anti-Slavery Society is the starting point for this thesis. Sturge and his collegues sought to arouse popular sentiment in order to further the anti-slavery cause. The Society's committee organized public anti-slavery meetings, circulated anti-slavery journals, and used church networks to promote its objectives. It also engaged in electoral pressure, and attempted to persuade local candidates to pledge their support for slave emancipation in return for votes. Further evidence of the Society's growing militancy, was the committee's insistence that the slave system should be abolished immediately, without regard to consequence, because it was sinful. This initiative lifted the campaign out of the realm of ordinary politics, giving it the zest of a religious crusade. Gradually, the Birmingham abolitionists stopped deferring to the Metropolitan committee of the national Anti-Slavery Society on matters of policy and method. This thesis also considers Sturge's tour of the United States, analyzing his interaction with both radical and moderate American abolitionists. Some of the most controversial theological debates of the era intensified the divisions in the American anti-slavery movement, and this study will explain Sturge's approach to the bitter disputes that characterized the American movement at this time. Yet primarily, this thesis will consider how Sturge's Christian principles informed his anti-slavery work. A deep awareness of his personal Christian responsibility appeared to imbue Sturge with a sense of urgency about 'God's directive' to help the less fortunate. Recent scholarship has emphasized the need for understanding Victorian reformers within the context of their own values. This study aims, therefore, to evaluate what it meant for Joseph Sturge to be engaged in God's work. He believed he should faithfully do his part: but ultimately he trusted all his reform endeavours to God's overruling Providence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available