There’s Death in the Pot

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Single Article from Quaker Studies 13/2 – 01/03/2009

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Author: Elizabeth A. O’Donnell

Desc: ‘THERE’S DEATH IN THE POT!’ THE BRITISH FREE PRODUCEMOVEMENT AND THE RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS, WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THE NORTH-EAST OF ENGLAND

Ethical consumerism was one of the strategies used during the protracted struggle against slavery and was especially popular with Friends. From simple abstention from slave-grown produce to the promotion of alternative goods, it provided a means to bridge the distance between the consumer and the enslaved. This paper surveys the background to the mid-nineteenth-century British Free Produce Movement and explores the problems and opposition its supporters encountered. The reasons for the inability of the movement to develop mass appeal even amongst abolitionists, or for it to have any noticeable impact on the outcome of anti-slavery campaigning, are examined, as is its role in revitalising abolitionism at a time when interest had diminished. Particular emphasis is placed on ethical consumerism in the north-east anti-slavery movement, including the coordination of the Free Produce Movement from about 1846 to 1854, by Newcastle Quakers Henry and Anna Richardson.

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