Put an End to Slave-Grown Sugar
By Mason Shu
Abolition Beliefs for the Future of America
The boycott of sugar did not begin on its own, it was introduced with many other boycotts and protests in hope of ending slavery as soon as possible. Below are some key factors of what motivated the boycott of sugar and information on the topic:
- Slavery is the act or system of owning slaves, human beings in which they are legal property of another and forced to obey their owners.
- The mission of abolitionists is to emancipate all slaves, ending racism as soon as possible.
- Oppositions of slavery are located in the North, the central area for abolitionists. Industries in the South heavily relied on slavery, where main support of slavery was prominent. This caused many conflicts such as economical issues, fights, and separation of the once united colonies/states.
- Abolitionists like us face risks of imprisonment, beatings, and possible death.
- In 1791, Parliament had rejected a slave trade abolition bill by William Wilberforce, the first parliamentary bill to abolish slave trade.
- Abolitionists were calling for a boycott on Britain's largest import, slave-grown sugar.
- This sugar, used in tea or cakes, was produced by enslaved labor.
- Profits made by rum, cotton, tobacco, coffee, and especially sugar, ran the Transatlantic Slave Trade Market.
- Sugar grown by slaves were called “blood-stained” because they were stained with “the blood of their fellow creatures.”
- All of these products are associated with slavery.
- In 1791, an anti-sugar pamphlet was published by William Fox, which in just 4 months sold 70,000 copies and ran 25 editions.
- Posters and pamphlets were forms of persuasion that were able to spur the boycott of slave-grown sugar to 400,000 people.
- During the boycott of slave-grown sugar, sugar produced from free labor in the East Indies was used, and some stopped using the sugar overall. In just a few months, sugar sales dropped by over a third in several parts of the country, while the sale of sugar from India increased ten-fold in just 2 years.
- James Wright, a Quaker, advertised in the General Evening Post addressing to his customers that he was no longer selling sugar (see quote below) on March 6th, 1792.
Quote by James Wright Stating He Will No Longer Be Selling Sugar
".....Being Impressed with a sense of the unparalleled suffering of our fellow creatures, the African slaves in the West India Islands.....with an apprehension, that while I am dealer in that article, which appears to be principal support of the slave trade, I am encouraging slavery, I take this method of informing my customer that I mean to discontinue selling the article of sugar when I have disposed of the stock I have on hand, till I can procure it through channels less contaminated, more unconnected with slavery, less polluted with human blood......"
A Prospective View
Due to the violent French Revolution, the Sugar boycott lacked support and was stalled. For the approaching events occurring in America, we are once again supporting this boycott in pursuit of complete abolition of slavery. Below are current events on the abolition of slavery:
- Female anti-slavery associations are encouraging the British not to buy West Indian Sugar by distributing thousands of pamphlets and leaflets house to house, and supporting campaigns that encourage people to stop purchasing slave-grown sugar. Even notices were put up by some traders saying their sugar did not engage with slave-labor.
- Sugar bowls and tea sets were depicted with anti-slavery slogans by English ceramic manufacturers
- British Quaker Elizabeth Heyrick, along with many others, feel "removing the market for slave-labor goods was the first step in the immediate abolition of slavery".
- Because Parliament did not act, citizens (especially women) found power when only a small part of the population could vote.
- These campaigns and boycotts brought together abolitionists for a common cause.
- Overall, we have learned from analyzing major historical events that slavery has dragged on too long and it is time to abolish it.
How You Can Help
- Cease the use of slave-grown sugar
- Spread the word with pamphlets, posters, or products
- Boycott and protest the slave trade market
- Associate with other protestors/protesters, abolitionists, and organizations
- Putting an end to slave trade could be accelerated by putting economic pressure in industries involving slaves.