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Title The Acoustics of Abolition: Recovering the Evangelical Anti–Slave Trade Discourse Through Late-Eighteenth-Century Sermons, Hymns, and Prayers
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Date Accessioned
University/Publisher University of Ottawa
Abstract This thesis explores the late-eighteenth-century movement to end Britain’s transatlantic slave trade through recovering one of the major discourses in favour of abolition, namely that of the evangelical Anglicans. This important intellectual milieu has often been ignored in academia and is discovered through examining the sermons, hymns, and prayers of three influential leaders in this movement: Member of Parliament William Wilberforce, pastor and hymn writer John Newton, and pastor and professor Charles Simeon. Their oral texts reveal that at the heart of their discourse lies the doctrine of Atonement. On this foundation these abolitionists primarily built a vocabulary not of human rights, but of public duty. This duty was both to care for the destitute as individuals and to protect their nation as a whole because they believed that God was the defender of the enslaved and that he would bring providential judgement on those nations that ignored their plight. For the British evangelicals, abolishing the slave trade was not merely a means to avoid impending judgement, but also part of a broader project to prepare the way for Jesus’s imminent return through advancing the work of reconciliation between humankind and God as they believed themselves to be confronting evil in all of its forms. By reconfiguring the evangelical abolitionist arguments within their religious framework and social contexts, this thesis helps overcome the dissonance that separates our world from theirs and makes accessible the eighteenth-century abolitionist discourse of a campaign that continues to resonate with human rights activists and scholars of social change in the twenty-first-century.
Subjects/Keywords William Wilberforce; Abolition; Human rights; Slave Trade; Charles Simeon; John Newton; Evangelicalism; Nineteenth Century England; Eighteenth Century England; Slavery; History; Social Change; Abolitionists; Antislavery; Theology; Antislavery movements; Anglicanism; Gospel; Atonement; Providentialism; Clapham Sect; Evangelical Anglicans; Eschatology; Wilberforce; Great Awakening; John Wesley; Anti-Slave Trade; Act to Abolish the Slave Trade; Amazing Grace; Sermons; Prayers; Hymns; History of sermons; Church; British History; Roger Anstey; Ford K. Brown; Boyd Hilton
Language en
Country of Publication ca
Record ID handle:10393/24055
Repository ottawa
Date Indexed 2018-01-03
Issued Date 2013-01-01 00:00:00

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…Bradley, Boyd Hilton, and Herbert Schlossberg as well as those who have focused on specific abolition campaigns, including John Coffey.24 My work situates the development of the discourse of human rights within one of the historical contexts in which the…

…Wilberforce, 5 vols. (London: John Murray, 1838). 4 the three or four perfectly virtuous acts recorded in the history of nations.”3 The abolitionists served as symbols of human goodness and self-sacrifice.4 The climax of this scholarly sentiment…

…history and intellectual history are two of the most dynamic fields of contemporary historical inquiry,” note Professors John Coffey and Alister Chapman. “Yet historians of ideas and historians of religion often plough separate furrows, paying little…

…discussion . . . The most historically significant ideas, I would submit, are often those which are taken most generally for granted.”21 This is certainly the case with the public 19 Alister Chapman, John Coffey, and Brad S. Gregory, eds., Seeing Things…

…Cambridge academic Charles Simeon, together with the hymns of John Newton, one of the pioneers of evangelical hymnody, and the various works of William Wilberforce, perhaps the most famous evangelical Member of Parliament of his century. From their many…

…Victorians (London: Cape, 1976); Boyd Hilton, The Age of Atonement: The Influence of Evangelicalism on Social and Economic Thought, 1785–1865 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992); Herbert Schlossberg, The Silent Revolution and the Making of…

…Victorian England (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2000); John Coffey, “‘Tremble, Britannia!’: Fear, Providence and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 1758–1807,” English Historical Review (August 2012), vol. 127, no. 527, 844–881…

…interest were, and how they extended from Cambridge to the most remote corners of England, you would allow that his real sway in the Church was far greater than that of any primate.”27 Simeon himself was mentored by John Newton, who, though best remembered…

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