04 April 2017

'Fake News', 1780s Quaker Style

'With respect to abolitionism, then, British newspapers and periodicals published from the summer of 1783 to the spring of 1787 need to be read with caution. Historians will never know how many of the antislavery statements that appear in the British press in this period resulted from Slave Association sponsorship. What sometimes looks like an upsurge of antislavery argument and commentary in the press occasionally represented little more than the initiative of  a clever Quaker propagandist. Friends not only attempted to generate antislavery opinion. They tried to create the emergence of an emerging public consensus on behalf of abolition more than two years before that support materialised in full.' 
From, Christopher Leslie Brown, Moral Capital: foundations of British abolitionism, (UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC: 2006), pp 430-1.