My friend Professor Sir Geoff Palmer is certainly correct to seek a more comprehensive treatment of the slave trade in Scottish schools, although a great deal has been done since the “commemoration of the abolition” year in 2005.
I welcome, too, Ian Johnstone’s comment (Letters, 13 January) in pleading for a greater recognition of Scotland’s contribution to abolition. Scotland sent 185 petitions on the slave trade to Parliament in 1792 out of a British and Irish total of 519.
Four years earlier, one of the first petitions was initiated in the Presbytery of Edinburgh by Rev Robert Walker, “the Skating Minister”.
James Ramsay’s key contribution was what his biographer, Nigerian historian Folarin Shyllon, described as “lifting the veil from plantation slavery” (James Ramsay – the Unknown Abolitionist). Ramsay was hounded to an early death by the West Indian slave-owning party in Parliament, but not before he gave vital information to Wilberforce’s campaign and set the young Thomas Clarkson on his lifelong crusade against slavery.
He was far from the only one – Zachary Macaulay and James Stephen were key Scots in the British campaign.
Much of this is to be found in Professor Sir Duncan Rice’s The Scots Abolitionists and, with a slightly different slant, in Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery 1758-1838, which might interest Ian Johnstone and other readers.
(Rev Dr) Iain Whyte