Backlash to Mary Prince

 

The story of Mary Prince finds significance in the history of the anti-slavery movement in the Empire of Great Britain. When researching for this blog as well as the term paper that follows, I struggled to develop analysis beyond popular and accepted interpretations of Mary Prince and her life. There are few primary source documents simply because the context of her life. As a slave Prince could not read or write. Yet many historians and academics will argue that Prince’s narrative stood as a catalyst for abolition to spread beyond the mainland of Great Britain. (1) Prince undoubtedly spread the ideologies of anti-slave rhetoric among whites on the mainland of Great Britain. This can be supported by her interactions with the Birmingham Ladies Society that has been discussed previously in this Blog. Although Prince’s narrative did strike a chord with certain groups of English society in the mainland, did she have a significant influence on strengthening the anti-slave movement in Britain’s colonies and territories abroad?

1808preachingofmethodistminister

Methodist minister Joshua Marsden preaching to Bermuda Slaves. Marsden arrived in Bermuda in 1808 and encouraged slaves to learn to read and write (Source). Although Marsden came before Prince’s book was published, his work there showed how sentiments towards the institution of slavery were already starting to change in the British territories and colonies.

There was noticeable backlash to the narrative, especially from pro-slavery media outlets in the British colonies.  The Bermuda Royal Gazette published an article covering Prince’s narrative that attacked the validity of her story as well as her character, “Implying that Prince was a prostitute and wondered why the Anti-Slavery Society would believe her story.”(2) My overall question in regards to this post is what effects (if any) did the backlash to Mary Prince’s narrative had on her public perception? Did these accusations negatively impact her story and how it was viewed?

~WDL

References

  1. “Mary Prince: The First Woman to Present a Petition to Parliament.” The Abolition of Slavery Project. The Abolition Project, n.d. Web. Feb. 2017.
  2. “Biography: Mary Prince.” BermudaBios. Bermuda Biographies, n.d. Web. Feb. 2017.
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