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David Turnbull

in 1840 in the crowd at the conference
Born c. 1794
Died 1851
Occupation Diplomat
Known for Abolitionism

David Turnbull (c. 1794-1851) was a leading 19th century abolitionist and a British consul to Cuba. Turnbull, a Scotsman, was a key participant at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention of the Anti-Slavery Society.[1] In a letter he wrote to Lord Palmerston that year, Turnbull argued that slavery was "the greatest practical evil that ever afflicted mankind."[2]

Turnbull had spent the latter part of 1838 and early 1839 travelling in Cuba (where slavery remained legal) and in 1840 he produced his most well know work, Travels in the West: Cuba; with Notices of Porto Rico and the Slave Trade. In August 1840, Lord Palmerston—the British foreign secretary at the time—named Turnbull the British consul to Cuba. Cuba expelled him in 1842 after he was accused of attempting to incite slave revolt. In 1844—the so-called Year of the Lash in Cuban history—there was apparently an aborted slave revolt known as the Conspiración de La Escalera. Cuban authorities convicted Turnbull in absentia of being the "prime mover" of the conspiracy but Turnbull was never extradited.[3] After revelations about the revolt, thousands of Afro-Cubans (both slave and free) were executed, imprisoned, or banished from the island. Turnbull remained active in the abolitionist movement until his death in 1851.


See also


  1. ^ The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, accessed April 2009
  2. ^ Paquette, Robert L, Sugar is Made With Blood: The Conspiracy of La Escalera and the Conflict between Empires over Slavery in Cuba, Wesleyan University Press, 1988, page 133, footnote 6.
  3. ^ Paquette, 3.

Further reading

  • Turnbull, David. Travels in the West: Cuba; with Notices of Porto Rico and the Slave Trade. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1840.

External links



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