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Joseph Sturge

(1793—1859) philanthropist


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(1793–1859). Committed campaigner against slavery and post-slavery apprenticeship. Sturge, the son of a farmer in Gloucestershire, was, like many other social reformers of the day, a member of the Religious Society of Friends. In 1823 he joined the abolition movement in Birmingham and urged the instantaneous emancipation of slaves in the British territories. An active member of the Anti-Slavery Society, the Central Negro Emancipation Committee, and the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, he was not satisfied with the mere abolition of slavery in 1833. He demanded that the consequent scheme of apprenticeship be abolished as well. He published (with Thomas Harvey) an account of his experiences of slavery and its consequences in The West Indies in 1837 (1838). Sturge founded the Central Negro Emancipation Committee in 1837, gaining the support of Lord Brougham, who was himself an anti-apprenticeship advocate. Two years later he founded the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, which today is known as the Anti-Slavery International. To fortify his fight, Sturge brought an apprentice from Jamaica to London to give a first-hand account of the cruelties of apprenticeship, which proved successful in gaining the attention and support of people from all levels of society. One of Sturge's achievements was his success in shortening the period of apprenticeship to two years. He also gave his support to the Chartist movement and ran for Parliament in Nottingham. In 1840 he organized the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London. He died in Birmingham in 1859.

From The Oxford Companion to Black British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.


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