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Edinburgh-born lawyer, Whig Party politician, slave trade abolitionist and reformer, and Lord Chancellor of England (1830–34); he was also a noted orator, wit, man of fashion, eccentric and womaniser (one of his many affairs was with the notorious Harriet Wilson, who blackmailed her lovers with the threat of naming them in her memoirs – Wellington famously said “Publish and be damned”, Brougham paid up).
Brougham’s work to abolish slavery was his earliest and greatest achievement.
Soon after moving from Edinburgh to London in 1804 he published a pamphlet entitled, A Concise Statement of the Question Regarding the Abolition of the Slave Trade. In 1807 the Whig Party recruited him to organize the press campaign for abolition, and later that year British statesman William Wilberforce secured passage of a law that had in theory ended the slave trade.
Sadly, it did no such thing. Slave trading was punishable only by a small fine.
In June 1810, when Brougham introduced his Abolition of the
Slave Trade Act he thundered that ships built in Liverpool yards dodged the law
by sending carpenters out to sea with its first sailing, who then outfitted the
vessel with the bunks necessary for human cargo. He argued for a law that would
make slave trading a felony, famously saying: "While you levy your
pence, the wholesale dealers in blood and torture pocket their pounds and laugh
at your twopenny penalty."
He later worked tirelessly to ensure the passage of The Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which ended slavery in the colonies
Other achievements over his long life include the successful defence of Queen Caroline in the annulment action initiated by George IV in 1820, persuading the House of Lords to pass the great 1832 Reform Act and campaigning for the repeal of the Corn Laws in the 1840s. One of his last great political achievements was the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857, which permitted divorce cases to be heard in the court system; prior to this it required petitioners to ask for a Private Act of Parliament, which was slow and costly.Brougham spent much of the last 30 years of his life at Cannes, on the French Mediterranean, popularising it as a resort for the upper classes.
This is a fine signature in ink, on a 3.25" x 1.5" piece, cut from the bottom of a letter. In good condition.