Richard Oastler's letter on 'Yorkshire slavery', 1830
    To the Editors of the Leeds Mercury, from 'A Briton', 1830
    ‘It is the pride of Britain that a slave cannot exist on her soil; and if I read the genius of her constitution aright, I find that slavery is most abhorrent to it – that the air which Britons breathed is free – the ground on which they tread is sacred to liberty’. Rev.R.W.Hamilton’s speech at the meeting held in the Cloth-hall Yard, September 22nd, 1830.
    Gentlemen, - No heart responded with truer accents to the sounds of liberty which were heard in the Leeds Cloth-hall Yard, on the 22nd instant, than did mine, … One shade alone obscured my pleasure, arising not from any difference in principle, but from the want of application of the general principle to the whole empire.
    The pious and able champions of Negro liberty and colonial rights should, if I mistake not, have gone farther than they did; or perhaps, to speak more correctly, before they had travelled so far as the West Indies, should, at least for a few moments, have sojourned in our own immediate neighbourhood, and have directed the attention of the meeting to scenes of misery, acts of oppression, and victims of slavery, even on the threshold of our homes.
    Let truth speak out, appalling as the statement may appear. The fact is true. Thousands of our fellow-creatures and fellow-subjects, both male and female, the miserable inhabitants of a Yorkshire town (Yorkshire now represented in Parliament by the giant of anti-slavery principles [fn, Henry Brougham MP for Yorkshire, 1830 and a champion of the anti-slavery movement] are this very moment existing in a state of slavery, more horrid than are the victims of that hellish system ‘colonial slavery’…’. The very streets which receive the droppings of an ‘Anti-Slavery Society’ are every morning wet by the tears of innocent victims at the accursed shrine of avarice [greed], who are compelled (not by the cart-whip of the negro slave-driver) but by the dread of the equally appalling thong or strap of the over-looker, to hasten, half-dressed, but not half-fed, to those magazines of British infantile slavery – the worsted mills in the town and neighbourhood of Bradford!!!…’
    Thousands of little children, both male and female, but principally female, from seven to fourteen years of age, are daily compelled to labour from six o’clock in the morning to seven in the evening, with only – Britons, blush while you read it! – with only thirty minutes allowed for eating and recreation…..
    If I have succeeded in calling the attention of your readers to the horrid and abominable system on which the worsted mills in and near Bradford is conducted, I have done some good. Why should not children working in them be protected by legislative enactments, as well as those who work in cotton mills? Christians should feel and act for those whom Christ so eminently loved, and declared that ‘of such is the Kingdom of Heaven’. – I remain, yours, etc.,’
A Briton
Fixby Hall, near Huddersfield, Sept. 29, 1830
Letter to the Leeds Mercury from Richard Oastler, Fixby Hall, near Huddersfield, 29 September, 1830. Printed in the Leeds Mercury, 16 October 1830 quoted in Ward, J.T, (ed.), The Factory System, Vol 2: The Factory System and Society, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1970