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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

Ironmask, Collar, Leg Shackles and Spurs

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Thomas Branagan, IRON MASK, COLLAR, LEG SHACKLES AND SPURS USED TO RESTRICT SLAVES in The Penitential Tyrant (1807). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Creator Thomas Branagan
Context Slaves suffered from a great deal of violence
Audience The general public
Purpose To generate support for the anti-slavery movement

Historical Significance

Many historians of slavery have emphasized the cruel and violent nature of the institution. So did those who opposed slavery before the Civil War.

Thomas Branagan was an Irish immigrant who had worked as a slave trader and a planter in Antigua. Upon his conversion to Christianity, he became a vocal critic of the institution of slavery. The image below appeared in Branagan's 1807 book of poems, The Penitential Tyrant.

Branagan did not support slavery, neither did he desire immediate emancipation. If former slaves were to remain in the United States, Branagan believed that they should colonize the west. He also wrote against miscegenation.

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