Medal of Freedom

2007 marked 200 years since the British parliament abolished the transatlantic slave trade. But it didn't mark the end of slavery, which still continues in different forms today.

Tobacco box lid, made in England, around 1770

Tobacco box lid with image of enslaved African, made in England, 1770s

Today we may wear wrist bands or ribbons
to show support for causes such as ending poverty. In the 1770s, campaigners also used symbols to publicise the horrors of the slave trade.

The kneeling enslaved African with chained hands and feet became a popular symbol of the campaign. It appeared on all sorts of different objects including brooches and this tobacco box lid. These objects showed slaves as passive victims: in reality, slaves regularly
resisted their oppression.

What does freedom mean to you?

This tobacco box lid is displayed in the Gallery of Craft and Design among other objects owned by anti-slavery campaigners in the 1770s.  We asked visitors: How would you show your idea of freedom in a medal? Below are some of their replies:

 Medal of Freedom response, Freedom is being able to say YES, 2007

Medal of Freedom response, Freedom is something children should get often, 2007

Medal of Freedom response, Freedom is being at home, 2007

If you would like to add your own medals, please email them to Liz Mitchell, Interpretation Development Manager at



Remembering Slavery Community Programmes

Visitor in the Gallery of Craft and Design
Local community groups creatively explore our collections to uncover Manchester's links to the transatlantic slave trade.