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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • General
  • Related Materials
  • Existence and Location of Copies
  • Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: Thomas Clarkson papers
    Creator: Clarkson, Thomas, 1760-1846.
    Identifier/Call Number: mssCN
    Physical Description: 9 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1787-Approximately 1900
    Date (bulk): 1781-1847
    Abstract: This collection contains 210 pieces of correspondence, manuscripts, and documents of English abolitionist Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846), chiefly dating from 1787 to 1847 and related to slavery and the slave trade in the United States and Africa, including the Sierra Leone colony; activities of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; and the private affairs of Clarkson and his family.
    Language of Material: English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Thomas Clarkson papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The bulk of the collection purchased from Eric M. Bonner, 1949.
    The following items were purchased from Maggs Bros. (Cat. 811, items 298-300), 1952, and received in library in 1953: CN 31; CN 33; CN 36; CN 38; CN 39; CN 48; CN 51; CN 52; CN 53; CN 56; CN 67; CN 74; CN 89; CN 96; CN 99; CN 117; CN 122; CN 124; CN 125; CN 147; CN 184; CN 191; CN 193; CN 194; CN 196; CN 197; CN 198; CN 200; CN 206.

    Biographical / Historical

    Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846), the English philanthropist, devoted the major portion of his life to the cause of the abolition of slavery. His energy in organizing anti-slavery societies throughout England helped to arouse the attention of the English people to the inhumanity of the institution of slavery.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, and documents of English abolitionist Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846), chiefly dating from 1787 to 1847 and related to slavery and slave trade in the United States and Africa, including the Sierra Leone Colony; activities of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; and the private affairs of Thomas Clarkson and his family.
    The papers include an unpublished manuscript of Clarkson's "History of the African Institution as connected with the Abolition of Slavery and the Foreign Slave Trade," circa 1839 (CN 33); a speech by Clarkson used in forming anti-slavery committees in 1823-1824 (CN 73); Clarkson's report on Sierra Leone, circa 1792 (CN 54); and "A letter to the Clergy and slave holders in the Southern parts of the United States of America," [1841?] (CN 78); as well as drafts of Clarkson's letters to the Comte de Mirabeau, Alexander I of Russia and others on slavery, and reports and speeches on the subject.
    Individuals represented by 3 or more pieces in the collection include: John Beaumont (8 pieces); Charles Buller (3 pieces); Maria Weston Chapman (5 pieces); Thomas Clarkson (48 pieces); Henri Grégoire (4 pieces); William Jay (3 pieces); Gerrit Smith (6 pieces); Joseph Soul (4 pieces); Joseph Sturge (15 pieces); Lewis Tappan (3 pieces); and Henry Clarke Wright (8 pieces).
    Notable correspondence in the collection includes:
    1. Thomas Clarkson letter to Comte de Mirabeau with the story of an African sold into slavery, November 13, 1789 (CN 35)
    2. Thomas Clarkson letter to Roberts Vaux regarding the settlement of free blacks from the United States in Haiti, March 8, 1819 (CN 63)
    3. William Buck Cripps letter regarding conditions of settlers and prospects for newcomers in New Brunswick, November 30, 1822 (CN 89)
    4. William Lloyd Garrison letter on slavery in the United States, August 19, 1846 (CN 98)
    5. John Jay letter making Clarkson an honorary member of the New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, September 1, 1788 (CN 111)
    6. Francis Scott Key letter regarding Americans who plan to visit Sierra Leone, November 8, 1817 (CN 117)
    7. Report by J.W.C. Pennington, a free African American minister, September 25, 1844 (CN 137)
    8. Granville Sharp letter on the formation of the settlement at Sierra Leone, October 13, 1788 (CN 147)
    9. Philip Evan Thomas letter to James Cropper regarding slave labor in the United States, August 22, 1822(CN 182)
    10. John Greenleaf Whittier letter regarding the progress of anti-slavery movements in the United States, July 10, 1844 (CN 190)
    11. Dorothy Wordsworth letter to Catherine (Buck) Clarkson, May 10, 1808 (CN 201)
    This collection complements the Clarkson Papers in the British Library (Add. Mss. 41262-41267). Both groups of papers were consulted by Earl Leslie Griggs in the preparation of his biography, Thomas Clarkson: the Friend of Slaves (London : Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1936).


    Individual call numbers included in the collection: mssCN 1-210.

    Related Materials

    1. Correspondence and papers of Thomas Clarkson, the slave trade abolitionist, and his brother, John Clarkson,   British Library (Add. Mss. 41262-41267)

    Existence and Location of Copies

    This collection has been digitized in its entirety and the digital reproductions are available in the Huntington Digital Library. 


    The collection is chiefly arranged chronologically, followed by 4 pieces of ephemera and 1 volume:
    1. Box 1: 1787-1818
    2. Box 2: 1819-1823
    3. Box 3: 1824-1842
    4. Box 4: 1843-1900 and ephemera
    5. Box 5: [Volume] Accounts of efforts to abolish slavery (approximately 1839).

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Abolitionists -- Great Britain -- Correspondence
    Antislavery movements -- Great Britain
    Antislavery movements -- United States
    Slave trade -- Africa.
    Slave trade -- Great Britain
    Slave trade -- United States
    Great Britain -- History -- 18th century -- Sources
    Great Britain -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
    Sierra Leone -- History -- Sources
    Letters (correspondence) -- Great Britain
    Personal papers -- Great Britain
    Clarkson, Thomas, 1760-1846 -- Archives
    Mirabeau, Honoré-Gabriel de Riqueti, comte de, 1749-1791 -- Correspondence
    Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, 1777-1825 -- Correspondence
    British and Foreign Anti-slavery Society.
    Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, 1777-1825
    Beaumont, John, active 1841-1842
    Buller, Charles, 1774-1848
    Chapman, Maria Weston, 1806-1885
    Cropper, James, 1773-1840
    Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879
    Grégoire, Henri, 1750-1831
    Jay, John, 1745-1829
    Jay, William, 1789-1858
    Mirabeau, Honoré-Gabriel de Riqueti, comte de, 1749-1791
    Pennington, James W. C.
    Rhoads, Samuel, 1806-1868
    Sharp, Granville, 1735-1813
    Smith, Gerrit, 1797-1874
    Soul, Joseph
    Sturge, Joseph, 1793-1859
    Tappan, Lewis, 1788-1873
    Thomas, Philip E. (Philip Evan), 1776-1861
    Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1892
    Wordsworth, Dorothy, 1771-1855
    Wright, Henry Clarke, 1797-1870