Free Essay Example on the Role of Religion in the Abolition Movement

Published: 2022-04-13 05:11:22
Free Essay Example on the Role of Religion in the Abolition Movement
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: Religion Slavery
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 963 words
9 min read
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Religion played a significant role in the abolition of slavery in England and its colonies. The abolitionist movement especially the Quakers who were the first white people to call for slavery termination was essential for persuading the political elites in England to abandon the vice as it caused human suffrage. Besides, slavery was against the biblical teachings that proclaimed that man was created in the image of God, hence everyone was equal. Due to the pressure from the abolitionist, Britain managed to end slave trade. Slavery had become an important theme in the British literature during the abolition movement. One of the key components of the abolitionist movement was poetry writer, William Blake, who used art and the mastery of written word to spread the anti-slavery campaign. Blake's pieces of literature expound on how religion shaped the abolitionist movement politically and socially. William Blake was born in a humble background as a hosiery maker's son. He showed exceptional talent and was strongly influenced by the Bible. Most of Blake's writings against slavery were guided by mystical and gentle Christianity views.

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In the poem "The Little Black Boy" written by William Blake, the author depicted innocence and naivety because of how he illustrated the black characters including their perception of the future. In the poem, Blake shows the naive, innocence and childish thoughts of the little boy because of his interiorized inferior thoughts. In the second line of the poem, the young African boy states "I am black, but O! My soul is white" (Blake 56). The sentiment indicates the superiority of whiteness an attribute of racism where blacks were viewed as inferior beings as compared to their white counterparts. According to the black child, his own color prevents the world from seeing that he is equal to the whites. In addition, the child's mother responds by telling the child that the black cloud is caused by the sun and that the body will vanish upon death, but in heaven, everyone is equal (Blake 56). According to the poem, the blackness of the child will enable him to receive the beam of love from the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Therefore, from a Christian point of view, Blake considers equality for all. Therefore, religion indicates that people should be treated politically and socially equal. As a result, the poem urged the political class to abolish slavery and socially taught people to respect and love one another as neighbors. Most importantly, Christianity liberates the lives of the black people from the burden of their skin complexion, gives them a sense of equality and a loving father in the afterlife (Gleckner and Greenberg 56). In summation, according to William Blake, the Christian religion presented the purest colonial practices that were a source of divine knowledge and would be the salvation for black oppression.

On the other hand, "The Chimney Sweeper" found in Blake's Songs of Innocence is a cry for social justice especially against child labor (Blake 67). Poor parents sold their children as chimney sweepers in the heart of the industrialization. Chimney sweepers were treated as slaves with poor working conditions. Furthermore, black children from slave parents were taken away from their parents to work as chimney cleaners to take out the soot created in the production and manufacturing process. Blake is angered by how uncaring parents collude with the church and the authority to celebrate the enslavement of others for their own benefit. Likewise, Visions of the Daughters of Albion poem by William Blake focuses on the theme of slavery and love. In the romantic poem, the female character Oothoon is free in spirit but is bounded by the chains of slavery (Gleckner and Greenberg 87). The poem indicates how female slaves were sexually abused or raped by their owners who even denied them the right to love. Oothoon possesses a great love for Theotormon. Most importantly, the poem expounds on the theme of racial oppression that was prevalent in the abolition movement. The poem also sheds light on a different form of slavery where women are placed in torture and sexual assault.

Another significant person in the history of the abolition movement is Thomas Clarkson, who invested his life the abolition of slavery. Clarkson joined the anti-slavery campaign when he won an essay prize written in Latin that he later translated into English entitled 'Is it lawful to make slaves of others against their wills?' The essay opened Clarkson's view on slavery and he collaborated with the Quakers and they persuaded William Wilberforce, an MP to speak on their behalf in the English Parliament. Based on Clarkson's persuasion with the help of Wilberforce, a parliamentary investigation was set up against the slave trade. Clarkson provided Wilberforce with parliamentary speeches and evidence that were using the termination of slavery (Abolition.e2bn.org).

In conclusion, religion was a crucial component of the slavery abolition movement in England. The romantic poet writer William Blake used his Christian views to shed light on the need for the end of racial oppression and slavery. His understanding of religion helped to disseminate information that carried both political and social weight in the abolition movement. Another important person in the abolition movement was Thomas Clarkson because he used his essay to enhance the fight against slavery. The efforts of Blake and Clarkson paved way for the termination of slave trade and slavery in England and its colonies through the power of art and literature.

Works Cited

Blake, William."Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience." Gutenberg.org. N.p., 2018. Web. 27 Mar. 2018.

Gleckner, Robert F, and Mark L Greenberg. Approaches To Teaching Blake's Songs Of Innocence and Of Experience. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2001. Print.

"Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846): A Tireless Campaigner: The Abolition Of Slavery Project."

Abolition.e2bn.org. N.p., 2018. Web. 27 Mar. 2018.

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