Reference Entry

Stephen, James

David Dabydeen

in Oxford Companion to Black British History

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780192804396
Stephen, James

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Christian abolitionist who worked closely with William Wilberforce . Stephen was born in Poole, Dorset, and educated in Winchester. He became a barrister and had a law practice in the West Indies. As a consequence of viewing the horrors of slavery and the extreme ill‐treatment of slaves on the islands, he started a correspondence with the abolitionist William Wilberforce and provided him with information on the practice of slavery in the West Indies. Under Wilberforce's influence, he joined the Clapham Sect, constituted of Christians working with Wilberforce, and eventually became its leader. He wrote a number of books that attacked the slave trade , and several significant pamphlets such as ‘War in Disguise, or the Frauds of the Neutral Flags’ and ‘The Slavery of the British West India Colonies Delineated’. Stephen also offered a few proposals for the ending of the slave trade. Among them was the registration of slaves in British colonies. Stephen's suggestions and publications incited awareness in the public of the realities of slavery. His election to Parliament meant that he was able to push his ideas further and aid Wilberforce's fight for the abolition of the slave trade.

Reference Entry.  232 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History

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