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Home / History / Abolition / Abolitionists in Britain and America / Zachary Macaulay (1768-1838) born Inveraray, Scotland
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Zachary Macaulay (1768-1838) born Inveraray, Scotland


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Zachary Macaulay was born in Inveraray Scotland the son of a Minister of the Church of Scotland. He only had a basic education but taught himself the Classics, Latin and Greek. He worked at a merchant counting house in Glasgow. At only 16 years of age he went to Jamaica. He worked for eight years on a sugar plantation, eventually becoming the manager. At first he was horrified by the way the enslaved were treated but became hardened to it. On returning to Britain he met William Wilberforce through his sister's husband, - Thomas Babington. Macaulay's time in Jamaica had left a a deep impression on him and he became a member of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. In 1794 he took the post of Governor of the Sierra Leone colony, that had been established by Granville Sharp in 1788 for freed slaves in West Africa. He even travelled as a passenger on a slave ship so he could understand what it was like to sail the Middle Passage. When he returned to Britain in 1799, his ability at collating information and good head for figures made him invaluable when it came to dealing with the huge amounts of evidence collected. He was also adept at drafting reports that highlighted the horrors of slavery. He continued to work hard for abolition and in the 1820s focused on securing the total abolition of slavery in the British Colonies. He helped set up the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery (later known as the Anti-Slavery Society) in 1823 and edited the societies publication, -Anti-Slavery Reporter. His hard work and clear arguments helped pave the way for the 1833 act that saw the end of slavery in the British Empire. He died in London in 1838.

Picture by Anna Fenn 2007.

14th Dec 2007 by Diane Earl

Citizenship, History

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

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