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Joseph Sturge

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A Visit To The United States In 1841


By Joseph Sturge
American History

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Joseph Sturge

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Joseph Sturge (1793 - May 14, 1859), English philanthropist and politician, was the son of a farmer in Gloucestershire.

He was a member of the Religious Society of Friends, and refused, in his business as a corn factor, to deal in grain used in the manufacture of spirits. He went to Birmingham in 1822, where he became an alderman in 1835. He was an active member of the Anti-Slavery Society, Central Negro Emancipation Committee and British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Sturge made a tour in the West Indies, publishing on his return an account of slavery as he there saw it in The West Indies in 1837 (London, 1837).

After the abolition of slavery in 1833, Sturge was one of the main instigators of a campaign of agitation against apprenticeship in the West Indies. The Central Negro Emancipation Committee he founded in 1837. Lord Brougham, the most prominent champion of anti-apprenticeship, acknowledged Sturge's central role in rousing British anti-slavery opinion in a speech to the House of Lords. In 1839, Sturge and others from the anti-apprenticeship campaign came together to found the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, which survives until today as Anti-Slavery International. The new organisation turned its attention to emancipating slaves outside Great Britain's borders.

In 1841 he travelled in the United States with the poet Whittier to examine the slavery question there. On his return to England he gave his support to the Chartist movement, and in 1842 was candidate for Nottingham, but was defeated by John Walter, the proprietor of The Times.

He then took up the cause of peace and arbitration, to support which he was influential in the founding of the Morning Star in 1855. The extreme narrowness of Sturge's views was shown in his opposition to the building of the Birmingham Town Hall on account of his conscientious objection to the performance of sacred oratorio. He died at Edgbaston, Birmingham on the 14th of May 1859. He married, first, in 1834, Eliza, daughter of James Cropper; and, secondly, in 1846, Hannah, daughter of Barnard Dickinson.

See Henry Richard, Memoirs of Joseph Sturge (London, 1864); John (Viscount) Morley, Life of Richard Cobden (London, 1881); Howard Temperley, 'British Anti-Slavery 1733-1870' (London, 1972); Richard Tyrrell, 'Joseph Sturge and the Moral Radical Party in Victorian Britain' (London, 1987).



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