Examining the Economical and Ethical Debates over Equiano’s Abolitionist Views

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The “Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” has been heavily analyzed and critiqued ever since it was published in London in 1789. Disputes over Equiano’s Narrative include debates over his actual birthplace, the consistency of his factual information, his sanity, and even whether Equiano was the legitimate author of the book. All of these issues can be used to disprove Equiano’s story as being true (or not entirely true), thus diminishing the usefulness and effectiveness of his book as a backbone of the abolition movement. Slavery had become an extremely lucrative business for slave-owners and such, and essentially brought many countries to power through its successful business due to the free labor as well as through the slave trade. However, Olaudah Equiano strongly opposed the institution of slavery by proclaiming that slavery was immoral, unjust, unethical, and that Africans must not be oppressed because they should be seen as equals to Europeans. He also refuted the notion that slavery could be justified economically, as he modeled an economic theory justifying an economic and commercial boost that would develop with the abolition of slavery. Consequently, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano was seen as a monumental threat to the pro-slavery movement, causing those opposing the anti-slavery movement to initiate false condemnations in order to protect their profits and economic gains. Equiano’s narrative provided a first-hand documentation of a real slave’s life long struggle and quest to abolish slavery. He recounts the misery of the middle passage by saying, “with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick that…I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me” (68). He exposes the horrors, inhumanity, and immortality that slavery and the slave trade instigated from a rare perspective. His experience as a slave even went so far as to cause him to wish to die, rather than continue...
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