In tracing the different streams from whence the torrent arose, which has now happily swept away the Slave Trade, I must begin with an inquiry as to those who favoured the cause of the injured Africans, from the year 1516, to the year 1787, at which latter period, a number of persons associated themselves, in England, for its abolition. For though they, who belonged to this association, may, in consequence of having pursued a regular system, be called the principal actors, yet it must be acknowledged, that their efforts would never have been so effectual, if the minds of men had not been prepared by others, who had moved before them. Great events have never taken place without previously disposing causes. So it is in the case before us. Hence they, who lived even in early times, and favoured this great cause, may be said to have been necessary precursors in it. And here it may be proper to observe, that it is by no means necessary that all these should have been themselves actors in the production of this great event. Persons have contributed towards it in different ways:—Some have written expressly on the subject, who have had no opportunity of promoting it by personal exertions. Others have only mentioned it incidentally in their writings. Others, in an elevated rank and station, have cried out publicly concerning it, whose sayings have been recorded. All these, however, may be considered as necessary forerunners in their day; for all of them have brought the subject more or less into notice. They have more or less enlightened the mind upon it; they have more or less impressed it; and therefore each may be said to have had his share in diffusing and keeping up a certain portion of knowledge and feeling concerning it, which has been eminently useful in the promotion of the cause.
It is rather remarkable, that the first forerunners and coadjutors should have been men in power.