The account, which I shall now give, will exhibit a concurrence of extraordinary and important circumstances. It will show, first, that in each of the three classes now introduced, there were individuals in the year 1787, who had been educated as it were for the purpose of becoming peculiarly qualified to act together for the promotion of the abolition of the Slave-trade. It will show, secondly, that these, with their respective classes, acted upon their own principles, distinctly and independently of each other. And, lastly, that by means of circumstances, which they themselves had neither foreseen nor contrived, a junction between them was rendered easily practicable, and that it was beginning to take place at the period assigned.
The first class of forerunners and coadjutors consisted principally, as it has appeared, of persons in England of various descriptions. These, I may observe, had no communication with each other as to any plan for the abolition of the Slave-trade. There were two individuals, however, among them, who were more conspicuous than the rest, namely, Granville Sharp, the first labourer, and Mr. Ramsay, the first controversial writer, in the cause.
That Granville Sharp received an education as if to become qualified to unite with others, in the year 1787, for this important object, must have appeared from the history of his labours, as detailed in several of the preceding pages. The same may be said of Mr. Ramsay; for it has already appeared that he lived in the island of St. Christopher, where he made his observations, and studied the laws, relative to the treatment of slaves, for nineteen years.
That Granville Sharp acted on grounds distinct from those in any of the other classes is certain. For he knew nothing at this time either of the Quakers in England or of those in America, any more than that they existed by name. Had it not been for the case of Jonathan Strong, he might never have attached himself to the cause. A similar account may be given of Mr. Ramsay; for, if it had not been for what he had seen in the island of St. Christopher, he had never embarked in it. It was from scenes, which he had witnessed there, that he began to feel on the subject. These feelings he communicated to others on his return to England, and these urged him into action.
With respect to the second class, the reader will recollect that it consisted of the Quakers in England: first, of George Fox; then of the Quakers as a body; then of individuals belonging to that body, who formed themselves into a commitee, independently of it, for the promotion of the object in question. This commitee, it may be remembered, consisted of six persons, of whom one was William Dillwyn.