By Betty Fladeland
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Additional resources for Abolitionists and Working-Class Problems in the Age of Industrialization
It left him, also, a vehement opponent of the slave trade. 15 Even before the organized antislavery movement began in Britain, Roscoe, Currie and Rushton had begun their individual endeavours to influence the public through their writing, and Rathbone was doing his part as a member of the Society of Friends. When he was only nineteen, Roscoe wrote his poem 'Mount Pleasant', named after the district of Liverpool in which he had been born. The poem begins with a description of the city and the bustling trade of Liverpool merchants which had brought opulence to the inhabitants and made their town's name known in the farthest places of the world.
95 Apparently he had never really relished the life of a politician with all of its pressures, in any case. When a group of his backers nominated him over his objection, he made no effort to campaign and lost by default. During that onesided contest the Tories put out a series of mock papal bulls recommending that all 'apprentices, ragamuffins, jailbirds, Presbyterians, rogues, Methodists and whores' should vote for Roscoe, 'the stimulator of His Holiness' person'. 96 In a letter to William Smith, Roscoe noted that both parties in the election were using black men to parade their banners, another indication that Catholicism more than slavery was at issue.
7 Among the men who worked for the Rathbones was James Cropper, later to become an outstanding abolitionist leader and one of the Anti-Slavery Society's experts on the economics of slavery. The story goes that Cropper, then a country lad from Cumberland, simply walked into the Rathbone office one day, said he had heard of their Quaker trading-firm, and asked for a job. Within three years he was a partner in the company, but eventually left to form one of his own. The families remained close friends and Cropper was of great help to William Rathbone the fifth and his brother Richard when they set up a new firm as commission merchants.