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John Clarkson


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John Clarkson, the younger brother of Thomas Clarkson, also played a significant part in the history of the anti-slavery movement. He was born in Wisbech in 1764 and joined the navy at 13 years of age as a midshipman. He fought in the West Indies during the American War of Independence. Perhaps as a result of what he saw there he joined his older brother in campaigning for the abolition of slavery at the end of the war. When someone was needed to organise the migration of 1,192 ex-slaves to a new life in Africa, John Clarkson's background and experience made him the ideal candidate. The former slaves had gained their freedom in return for fighting for Britain during the American War of Independence and were initially resettled in Canada. The government , however, failed to honour its promises of land and in order to survive many were forced into a form of slavery. John successfully gathered to ex-slaves in Halifax, Nova Scotia and arranged the fitting out of fifteen ships for the journey across the Atlantic. After their arrival in Sierra Leone, her served for ten months as the superintendent in charge of the colony before returning to England.

Portrait painted in 1791 of Lieutenant John Clarkson aged about 27. Photographed with kind permission at Wisbech and Fenland Museum.

10th Dec 2007 by Diane Earl

Biology, Citizenship, History

Key Stages:
Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

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