British Abolitionism and the Rhetoric of Sensibility: Writing, Sentiment, and Slavery, 1760-1807 argues that participants in the late eighteenth-century slavery debate developed a distinct sentimental rhetoric, using the language of the heart to powerful effect in the most important political and humanitarian battle of the time. Carey examines both familiar and unfamiliar texts, including poetry by Thomas Day, Hannah More, and William Cowper, novels by Sarah Scott, Henry Mackenzie, and Thomas Day, life writing by Ignatius Sancho, Olaudah Equiano, and Ottobah Cugoano, and political writings by James Ramsey, Thomas Clarkson and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Carey balances his readings of these texts by recovering a sense of the abolition as it was played out in newspapers and the periodical press, as well as in reports of parliamentary debate and celebrated trials. Throughout, Carey shows that slave-owners and abolitionists alike made strategic use of the rhetoric of sensibility in the hope of influencing a reading public thoroughly immersed in the 'cult of feeling'.

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