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Fashionable Freedom : Josiah Wedgwood’s promotional gift made Abolitionism fashionable.
Fashionable Freedom

Slightly abridged from The History of the Rise, Progress and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave Trade by the British Parliament (1808), by Thomas Clarkson.

The Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, founded in 1787 by Thomas Clarkson, distributed a tasteful cameo of its emblem done in jasperware by Josiah Wedgwood. Clarkson (who sent some to Benjamin Franklin, President of Pennsylvania) later expressed his warm appreciation.

NOR was the philanthropy of the late Mr. Wedgwood less instrumental in turning the popular feeling in our favour. He took the seal of the committee for his model, and produced a beautiful cameo.

Mr. Wedgwood made a liberal donation of these, when finished, among his friends. I received from him no less than five hundred of them myself.

They, to whom they were sent, did not lay them up in their cabinets, but gave them away likewise. Some had them inlaid in gold on the lid of their snuff-boxes. Of the ladies, several wore them in bracelets, and others had them fitted up in an ornamental manner as pins for their hair.

At length, the taste for wearing them became general; and thus fashion, which usually confines itself to worthless things, was seen for once in the honourable office of promoting the cause of justice, humanity, and freedom.

Slightly abridged from The History of the Rise, Progress and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave Trade by the British Parliament (1808), by Thomas Clarkson.

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Picture: © National Museum of America. Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0 View original
A Wedgwood jasperware cameo, showing a slave in chains making an impassioned plea for freedom and respect, with the legend, ‘Am I not a Man, and a brother?’.

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