The nineteenth century antislavery campaign was significant not only
because of the importance of the mission, but because it represented one of the
first social movements to operate on an international scale. The abolitionists,
reinforced with Enlightenment ideals such as the brotherhood of man, liberty, and
equality, which dominated the political thought of the day, were concerned with
people beyond their borders. They found an outlet for their beliefs in the
antislavery movement. Lending support to the humanitarian beliefs of the
abolitionists was the argument of Evangelical Christianity, which professed
unequivocally that slavery was a sin. These views were shared by both British
and American abolitionists.
Any study of the antislavery movement is a study of the individuals
involved in the movement. This dissertation argues that among the more
influential individuals in the transatlantic antislavery movement of the nineteenth
century is a man named Charles Stuart. While he has remained a little known
figure, his contributions to the cause of abolition are significant and noteworthy.
As a retired military officer in the British Army, with a pension that
enabled him to devote all his efforts to the cause of abolition, Stuart worked
tirelessly, traveling frequently between Britain and the United States, bringing
antislavery information to the attention of abolitionists on either side of the
Atlantic. As a prolific writer of antislavery pamphlets and articles, as well as a
relentless lecturer and campaigner, Charles Stuart played a key role in turning the
tide of public opinion away from the Colonization movement, which had been
gaining momentum and which threatened to undermine legitimate antislavery
efforts. Perhaps the most significant contribution made by Charles Stuart to the
cause of abolition, however, is seen in his influence on a young Theodore Weld.
Through the influence of Charles Stuart, Weld was converted to the cause of
abolition and would choose to make abolition his life's vocation. Theodore Weld,
largely through his relationship with Charles Stuart, would become one of the
most influential American abolitionists.
This dissertation demonstrates how a better understanding of Charles
Stuart, through his unmovable convictions, charismatic personality, exemplary
piety, and unique style, helps capture the essence of the nineteenth century