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Thomas Clarkson

1760-1846. Abolitionist. While at St. John's College, Cambridge, he wrote in 1785 a prize-winning essay on slavery, which influenced him to devote his life to the cause of abolition. Leaving Cambridge, he was ordained deacon in the Church of England, though he rarely exercised a ministry. In 1787 he joined with William Wilberforce* and others to campaign in the country and in the House of Commons for abolition, and thenceforth his life is the history of the antislavery struggle, in which he spent most of his fortune. His main work was collecting information for the campaign, which achieved success with the ending of the slave trade in 1807 and emancipation in the British dominions in 1833. After the outbreak of the French Revolution he propagated ideas of abolition in France, and after 1815 he presented his views at the European Congresses. Among his written works are an account of the abolition of the African slave trade and books on Quakerism, religious origins, war, and baptism.