CUGOANO AGAINST SLAVERYProduct no.: HP173
Out of the three leading black figures in eighteenth-century England (Sancho, Equiano and Cugoano), Ottobah Cugoano is the least well known. Yet he was the most radical, campaigning not just against the slave trade but for a ‘total abolition of slavery’.
In 1770, at the age of thirteen, he was kidnapped by his ‘own countrymen’ in Africa and sold into slavery. After enduring the middle passage, he worked on a plantation in Grenada and other parts of the West Indies.
In 1772 Cugoano was brought to England where he gained his freedom. By the mid-1780s he was employed as a servant by the court painters Richard and Maria Cosway in Schomberg House, Pall Mall. It was here, in 1787, that Cugoano published his book Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species.
By then he had already begun his letter writing campaign against the slave trade by writing to the Prince of Wales. Along with other ‘sons of Africa’, including Equiano, Cugoano also wrote to King George III, Edmund Burke and William Pitt.
Cugoano’s passionate rhetoric and reasoned argument make his book a milestone in anti-slavery literature.
‘A good, crisp and punchy account. Cugoano deserves to be better known.’ Professor James Walvin (University of York)
‘A well-researched biography aimed at the general reader.’ Professor Vincent Carretta (University of Maryland)
‘Martin Hoyles is to be thanked for having unearthed more information about the activities and milieu of the African abolitionist Ottobah Cugoano. Though details of his life are still sparse, it is clear that black witness and agitation played a far greater part in the development – and eventual success – of anti-slavery than traditional accounts have allowed.’ Professor Robin Blackburn (University of Essex)