The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840

Image credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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In 1787 a small, mainly Quaker group led by Thomas Clarkson (1760–1846) formed The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Their cause seemed hopeless as slavery was crucial to Britain's economy but popular feeling was on their side. The French Revolution and the backlash against British Radicalism temporarily stalled the campaign for anti-slavery campaign. The Society's Parliamentary spokesman William Wilberforce finally oversaw the triumphant passing of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807. The Great Reform Act of 1832 swept away many of the old pro-slavery MPs and the final emancipation of slaves in British colonies was effected in 1833. This monumental painting records the 1840 convention of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society which was established to promote worldwide abolition.

National Portrait Gallery, London



The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840




oil on canvas


H 297.2 x W 383.6 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Given by British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1880

Work type



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