History's HEROES? 1786 - 1845

Thomas Fowell Buxton

Views and opinions

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With ordinary talents and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.
Thomas Fowell Buxton

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Laziness grows on people, it begins in cob webs and ends in iron chains.
Thomas Fowell Buxton
I was, and have always been, conscious that though others had great talents, mine were moderate; that what I wanted in ability I must make up by perseverance; in short, that I must work hard to win, but withal a sense that by working hard I could win.
Thomas Fowell Buxton 1806
It is a meter to me an amazement that any man of principle can materially differ with me on the subject of slavery. I wonder when I see an honest man who does not hate it as I do, who does not long for the opportunity of giving it a death-blow; and as I cannot believe that any change of circumstances could make me anything but a favourer and well-wisher and encourager to those who were devoted to that duty.
Thomas Fowell Buxton in a letter to someone upset by the strength of his speech on slavery 1826
I would give the negro all that I could give him with security; I would do everything possible to mitigate and sweeten his lot; and to his children I would give unqualified emancipation. Having done this, I would settle with the planters. I am a friend to compensation but it is compensation on the broadest scale...Do you ask compensation for him who has wielded the whip? Then I ask compensation for him who has smarted under its lash! – Do you ask compensation for loss of property, contingent and future? Then I ask compensation for unnumbered wrongs, the very least of which is the incapacity of possessing any property whatever. If compensation be demanded, we re-echo the demand. It is that which we most fervently desire; only let it be just compensation, dealt out for the many who have suffered and not contained to the few who may suffer in one particular.
Thomas Fowell Buxton Speech to Parliament 1827
Captain Allan I have no doubt that if the climate had not opposed a barrier to frequent intercourse, those treaties would have been mainly instrumental in putting an effectual stop to the traffic in slaves in the waters subject to those chiefs.
Survivor of the Niger Exhibition, around 1843
I am very sorry to hear of your unhappinesses; I wish I could do anything to alleviate them. I think I might very well spare happiness enough for a moderate person, and still have enough left for myself.
Thomas Fowell Buxton, whilst at college to a friend 1806
Mankind in general mistake difficulties for impossibilities. That's the difference between those who effect, and those who do not.
Thomas Fowell Buxton

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The longer I live the more I am certain that the great difference between the great and the insignificant is energy – invincible determination – a purpose once fixed, and then death or victory.
Thomas Fowell Buxton
I hope you will soon come into Parliament and be able to contend in person, as well as with your pen, for the rights and happiness of the oppressed and friendless.
William Wilberforce 1819
Buxton's great merit as a public man consisted in his industry, his energy, and his straightforward honesty of purpose.
Obituary 1845
How is the Government prepared to act in case of a general insurrection of the negroes ? War is to be lamented anywhere, and under any circumstances: but a war against a people struggling for their freedom and their right would be the falsest position in which it is possible for England to be placed. And does the noble lord think that the people out of doors will be content to see their resources exhausted for the purpose of crushing the inalienable rights of mankind?
Thomas Fowell Buxton, Speech to Parliament

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One of the ill effects of cruelty is that it makes bystanders cruel.
Thomas Fowell Buxton
The hurry of life and press of business often appear not to leave time for sympathy; but I never found him too busy to be kind.
J.J. Cunningham 1847
...Yet though I have followed the late Sir Fowell throughout all his hard, long, and severe contests in this borough, I never knew him once lose his temper, never once give a harsh reply, or use an unkind word to anyone, nothing ever disturbed the even tenor of his way.
Without extravagantly overrating my own usefulness. I think it would be an inconvenient time for me to be out of Parliament just now. There are plenty of people with more talents, but a great lack of those who truly love a good cause for its own sake, and whom no price would detach from it.
Thomas Fowell Buxton, to a close acquaintance at the time of the June election 1826
My conclusion is, that we must stick firm and fast to our claims of justice. Immediate and total emancipation is our right, and if we yield one iota of it, it must be not for the sake of the planter, nor for the sake of Government, but for the benefit of the Negro; and we must give up no more than it is the interest of the Negro to surrender. In short, we must fight the battle with a single eye to the benefit of our clients the slaves.
In a letter to Zachary Maculay, December 1832
And now the Anti-slavery people are so violently turned against my father for not voting against the 20 millions that they can hardly find word to express their displeasure. I must say that his spirit through all is wonderful. He is as uninfluenced by the attacks of friends as of foes and goes straight on to his mark with a degree of firmness which considering it is unaided by that very supporting quality, natural obstinacy, seems almost incomprehensible. Every day he receives violent letters of censure.
One of Thomas Fowell Buxton's Children 1833
Buxton acquitted himself to universal satisfaction. The house is prepared to to receive him with respect and kindness; and his sterling sense, his good language, and his earnest manner fully keep up the prepossession in his favour, so that I recollect very few who have made their debut with so much real advantage, and seem so likely to maintain the station thus early assumed.
Mr W Smith (MP for Norwich) 1818
I Believe I am a true friend to liberty of feeling and I think it high arrogance in one human being to pretend to dictate to another what is for that other’s happiness.
Thomas Fowell Buxton

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The world abhors closeness, and all but admires extravagance; yet a slack hand shows weakness, and a tight hand strength.
Thomas Fowell Buxton
I care little about party politics. I vote as I like ... but I feel the greatest interest on subjects such as the slave trade, the condition of the poor, prisons, and criminal law.
Letter from Thomas to John Henry North 1819
Beat them in vigour, beat them in generous exercise of high principal - beat them in distain of corruption, and the display of pure integrity...do not beat them with bludgeons.
Thomas Fowell Buxton, Talking to his campaign organisers, 1818
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