In 1833 Thomas Fowell Buxton, the parliamentary successor to William Wilberforce, proposed a toast to ‘the anti-slavery tutor of us all. - Mr. Macaulay.’ Yet Zachary Macaulay’s considerable contribution to the ending of slavery in the British Empire has received scant recognition by historians. This book seeks to fill that gap, focussing on his involvement with slavery and anti-slavery but also examining the people and events that influenced him in his life’s work. It traces his Scottish roots and his torrid account of years as a young overseer on a Jamaican plantation. His accidental stumbling into the anti-slavery circle through a family marriage led to formative years in the government of the free colony of Sierra Leone dealing with settlers, slave traders, local chiefs and a French invasion. His return to Britain in 1799 began nearly forty years of research, writing, and reporting in the long campaign to get rid of what he described as ‘this foul stain on the nation.’ James Stephen rated him as the most feared and hated foe of slave interests. His weaknesses and failures are explored alongside his unswerving commitment to the cause to which he gave his energy, sacrificed his business interests, and saw as a natural result of his strong religious faith. This book is a result of extensive research of Macaulay’s own prolific writings and seeks to illustrate the man behind them, his passions and his prejudices, his steely resolve and his personal shyness, above all his willingness to work unremittingly in the background, generating the power to drive the engine of anti-slavery to victory.
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