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Thomas Clarkson Papers: Finding Aid
mssCN 1-210  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Materials
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Thomas Clarkson Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1787-Approximately 1900
    Bulk dates: 1781-1847
    Collection Number: mssCN 1-210
    Creator: Clarkson, Thomas, 1760-1846.
    Extent: 210 pieces in 5 boxes.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    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: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    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.


    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 Note

    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 Content

    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:
    • Thomas Clarkson letter to Comte de Mirabeau with the story of an African sold into slavery, November 13, 1789 (CN 35)
    • Thomas Clarkson letter to Roberts Vaux regarding the settlement of free blacks from the United States in Haiti, March 8, 1819 (CN 63)
    • William Buck Cripps letter regarding conditions of settlers and prospects for newcomers in New Brunswick, November 30, 1822 (CN 89)
    • William Lloyd Garrison letter on slavery in the United States, August 19, 1846 (CN 98)
    • John Jay letter making Clarkson an honorary member of the New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, September 1, 1788 (CN 111)
    • Francis Scott Key letter regarding Americans who plan to visit Sierra Leone, November 8, 1817 (CN 117)
    • Report by J.W.C. Pennington, a free African American minister, September 25, 1844 (CN 137)
    • Granville Sharp letter on the formation of the settlement at Sierra Leone, October 13, 1788 (CN 147)
    • Philip Evan Thomas letter to James Cropper regarding slave labor in the United States, August 22, 1822(CN 182)
    • John Greenleaf Whittier letter regarding the progress of anti-slavery movements in the United States, July 10, 1844 (CN 190)
    • 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).

    Related Materials


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

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    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.
    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.

    Alternate Authors

    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