The Mad King was an antislavery pioneer: George III made European traffickers “repugnant” and decried trade in text that he wrote decades before signing Abolition.

  • George III, a political traitise from 1748 that argued against slavery, was published in detail 
  • According to his opinion, slavery is “equally (sic), repugnant against the Civil Law as well as the Law of Nature”.
  • According to the king, the European trafficking of Black slaves was also not justified

King George III called slavery ‘repugnant’ in an essay he wrote when he was young, it has been revealed. 

In a 200-page document called “Of Laws relative Government in general”, the monarch makes his case against human trading. It was written during John Stuart’s intellectual mentoring.

George argues in a precis of a 1748 political treatise by Montesquieu, the French jurist, that slavery is ‘equaly [sic]The Times reports that this is a violation of the Civil Law and the Law of Nature. 

Also, he said that the European traffic of Black slaves wasn’t justified because there were’very reasons’ for it, such as the inability to grow New World colonies with them without them.

The Georgian Papers Programme includes the essay of the King. It is a collaborative effort between King’s College London and Royal Collection Trust that aims to make Hanoverian historical material more accessible. 

The king's essay is included in the Georgian Papers Programme, a collaboration between King's College London, the Royal Collection Trust and others who aim to make historical materials relating to the Hanoverians more accessible

In the Georgian Papers Programme is the king’s essay. This collaboration involves King’s College London and the Royal Collection Trust, who work together to make historic materials about the Hanoverians easier to access.

George, who is perhaps most well-known for going mad and losing the colonies, would in 1807 sign into law the abolition of the slave trade, but his early writing could also go some way to rehabilitating his image among some. 

The king had earlier this year been in the headlines when a carving of him – flanked by two kneeling African men – was removed from the National Maritime Museum.

Mahogany was used to make the bust. The figurehead of the Royal George Yacht was originally made in Deptford Dockyard. The bust had been displayed at the museum more than 10 years.

The monarch's arguments against trading in human life come in a 200-page manuscript called 'Of Laws relative to Government in general', written while he was under the intellectual mentorship of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute

One 200-page paper containing the arguments of the monarch against trade in human life is called “Of Laws relat to Government in general”. It was composed while John Stuart, 3rd Earl, bute, was his intellectual mentor.

It was most recently part of an exhibit called “The Atlantic: Trade, Empire and Slavery”, before being moved to its conservation studio in Kidbrooke (south east London).

The museum replaced it with an explanation plaque that reads, “For many visitors, staff and volunteers, its imagery, a powerful white King with two subservient Black men, is a hurtful reinforcement to enduring racist stereotypes.”

David Armitage from Harvard University is now a historian who claims that no other English-speaking person, aside from American Quakers has’so comprehensively debunked proslavery ideology.

He wrote in an article in the Times Literary Supplement that the essay ‘briefly placed the Prince of Wales in the vanguard of contemporary arguments against slavery and the slave trade’.


King George III (also known as “Mad King George”) ruled over the United Kingdom and British Empire from 1760 to his death in 1820, making him America’s last monarch.

His place in history is defined not only by his loss of the colonies but also by his description as “mad”, speaking at high speed, writing 400 word sentences and looking frantic and confused.  


In 1810, a regency was established because of concerns about his mental health. 

George, his eldest child, was Prince Regent of Wales until the death of his father. 

While he was called ‘Mad,’ it’s believed the king suffered from the blood disease porphyria, which attacks the central nervous system and can cause the symptoms he appears to have exhibited. Some have speculated that he may be bipolar.

His’madness’ is linked to colonial loss, but historians question this. The episodes that have been documented were recorded after the Treaty of Paris.

He suffered from poor health in later years. He was diagnosed with dementia and went completely blind. 

In the last few years, the King has enjoyed a revival in popular culture thanks to being in the hit musical “Hamilton” and appearing in the Netflix show “Bridgerton.”