History's HEROES? 1786 - 1845

Thomas Fowell Buxton

What he did


His legacy

Thomas Fowell Buxton's most outstanding achievement was the Abolition Act of 1833, which abolished slavery within the British Empire. This was the first time in the history of the world that any country had abolished slavery on such a significant scale.

The impact of this Act on the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings in the West Indies was incalculable. It liberated them from the tyranny of their masters once and for all, and gave them legal rights as free men and women. Although many people in Britain and in the colonies shared in this achievement, it was Thomas Fowell Buxton who led the parliamentary campaign. 

Thomas also championed the rights of indigenous peoples in Africa, such as the Xhosa bushpeople. Thanks in large part to his work in parliament, these people were given the same rights before the law as Europeans.

He promoted the idea of a trade with Africa that was not based on slavery. In Thomas's own lifetime, these ideas resulted only in tragedy. However, they were taken up by David Livingstone, and were a powerful motivation in his missionary work and in his struggle to end the Arab-dominated slave trade in East Africa.

Thomas Fowell Buxton also championed the idea that Africans and Europeans should be placed on an equal footing, in all fields - political, commercial and religious; ideas that were well ahead of their time and that have helped inspire others working for equality and human rights in later years.    


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