Slavery and the Enlightenment in Jamaica and the British Empire, 1760–1772: The Afterlife of Tacky’s Rebellion and the Origins of British Abolitionism

  • Trevor BurnardEmail author
Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)


How did abolitionism move from the margins of British society to a more central position by 1772? During the 1760s, some Britons came to see West Indian planters as especially vicious and West Indian slavery as particularly immoral. Tacky’s Rebellion in Jamaica in 1760 – the most serious slave revolt in British imperial history – was a galvanizing event showing the moral degradation of West Indian slavery. The horrific repression that followed the revolt shocked a growing humanitarian audience in Britain. They translated slave rebel sufferings into Christian terms. Thus, slave rebels were seen as Christian martyrs, an iconography that aided a developing belief that West Indian slaves were cruelly treated and that something needed to be done to stop the wickedness of planters.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Historical and Philosophical StudiesUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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