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Fri, 06.12.1840

The First World Anti-Slavery Convention is Held

*On this date in 1840, The World Anti-Slavery Convention met for the first time at Exeter Hall in London.  

The new society's mission was "The universal extinction of slavery and the slave trade and the protection of the rights and interests of the enfranchised population in the British possessions and of all persons captured as slaves. ‘  The slave trade had been abolished throughout the British Empire in 1807. In August 1833 the British government passed the Slavery Abolition Act, which abolished slavery in the British Empire from August 1834, when some 800,000 people in the British empire became free.  

Similarly, in the 1830s many women and men in America acted on their religious convictions and moral outrage to become a part of the abolitionist movement. Many women, in particular, responded to William Lloyd Garrison's invitation to become involved in the American Anti-Slavery Society. They were heavily involved, attending meetings and writing petitions.  The week-long event was organized by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, largely on the initiative of the English Quaker Joseph Sturge and Thomas Clarkson.

Benjamin Robert Haydon painted The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, a year after the event, that today is in the National Portrait Gallery. The exclusion of women from the convention gave a great impetus to the women's suffrage movement in the United States.   After leaving the convention on the first day, being denied full access to the proceedings, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton "walked home arm in arm, commenting on the incidents of the day, [and] we resolved to hold a convention as soon as we returned home, and form a society to advocate the rights of women."

Eight years later they hosted the Seneca Falls Convention in Seneca Falls, New York.  One hundred years later, the Women's Centennial Congress was held in America to celebrate the progress that women had made since they were prevented from speaking at this conference.  

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Your door is shut against my tightened face, And I am sharp as steel with discontent; But I possess the courage and the grace To bear my anger proudly... THE WHITE HOUSE by Claude McKay.
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