March 2007 marked the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. One of the turning points in the campaign to abolish the slave trade was the 1789 publication of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Among the many abolitionist tracts, this indictment of slavery, written by a former slave, had arguably the biggest impact on the British public. Similarly, the actions of former slaves energized radical movements for abolition and democracy in 19th century Britain. Who were these revolutionaries? How did they alter the political landscape of their time?
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