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The Slaveholders Tale

What is to be gained from trying to make sense of a man who perpetuated and defended slavery?




Slavery was central to the eighteenth-century empire and provided the basis for the immense fortunes of plantation owners. But the Age of Revolutions, a period that saw the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions, as well as the rise of the abolitionist movement, witnessed new attacks on slavery and challenged the power of a once-confident slaveholder elite. Understanding the tale of the rise and fall of this elite is key to our understanding of slavery, its abolition and legacies.

Why this is important?

This presentation weaves its tale around the story of one sugar planter, Simon Taylor of Jamaica, one of the wealthiest British slaveholders. It explains what drove men like him to do what they did, and it discusses how they tried to justify their behaviour. So as well as helping audiences to understand the important historical topics of slavery and abolition it also helps them to make sense of how human beings can come to perpetuate and defend murderously exploitative acts.

Key descriptors

Slavery; Empire; Britain

Suggested age range

Years 12 and 13


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