Samuel Taylor Coleridge Questions and Answers

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What are some of the justifications for studying Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "On the Slave Trade" as literature in 2014?

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge delivered his well-known statement against the slave trade on June 16, 1795, in an atmosphere decidedly unfriendly to abolitionists.  Britain had a very strong anti-slavery sentiment, but the willingness of those most actively opposed to the practice of slavery to continue the fight was waning, and Coleridge determined that it was time to confront the pro-slave trade forces once more.  Recognizing that moral suasion itself was insufficient to eliminate an economic practice, he took dead aim at those who argued that slavery was a part of Europe and that Britain couldn’t unilaterally dispense with the practice and that it was an economically viable business enterprise in the first place. What became known as his “Slave Trade Lecture,” or, when published in his collected works, as “On the Slave Trade,” began with his suggestion that not just slavery but imperialism were unnecessary luxuries:

“I have dwelt anxiously on this subject, with a particular view...

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