Clarkson | Thomas

Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species

First American Edition



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The first American edition of Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species by Thomas Clarkson.

Octavo, xix, [1], [21]-154pp, [lacking 155]. Brown calf, five raised bands along spine. Thin border stamped to edge of covers. Lacking page 155, torn out. Solid text block, some splitting to top edge of spine, wear to corners and hinges. Faint soiling throughout. Thin dampstain to bottom edge of text block. Previous ownership inscriptions to front few leaves and rear endpaper.

(Evans 19561) (Sabin 13484) A landmark piece by a dedicated abolitionist.

Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846), a lifelong English abolitionist, originally wrote this essay in Latin to enter a Cambridge writing competition set by the vice-chancellor Peter Peckard. The topic asked if it was lawful to make slaves against their will. Clarkson’s passion for the subject grew as he conducted his research and gathered firsthand accounts. Upon winning the competition, he published the dissertation in English and became connected to other abolitionists both in London and America. One year after this publication was released, the first Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed, led by Clarkson. The group’s efforts and lobbying played a decisive role in the 1807 passage of the Slave Trade Act, effectively prohibiting the slave trade throughout the British Empire.

Additional information

Location Published



Joseph Crukshank


First American Edition

Date Published



Full calf


Very Good


Clarkson | Thomas

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Thomas Clarkson