The Abolition of the British Slave Trade

2 February 2018

The Driving Forces Leading to the Banishment of Britain’s Participation in the Slave Trade in 1807 British society in the 18th century witnessed a strong abolitionist movement that demanded support and public attention. People began to see slaves as more than objects to be bought and sold and found immorality within slave plantations and slave trades. This movement ultimately resulted in the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1806 and 1807, which banned British ships from participating in the slave trade.There were many contributing factors and driving forces, which caused Britain to disengage ships from the British lave trade including the emergence of the Enlightenment, which elicited a humanitarian conscience into British culture. In addition, religious groups such as the Quakers and the Evangelical Christians gained considerable political and social power while promoting values of antislavery.

The introduction of antislavery propaganda also encouraged the public to participate in the social movement.Furthermore the presence of international events highlighted the many problems of the slave trade. Lastly, economic shifts questioned the necessity of the slave trade. The emergence f the Enlightenment in the mid eighteen hundreds introduced optimistic beliefs towards the development of science, tolerance, education, and social structure. The Enlightenment, which called for a rational way of dealing with human conflicts, introduced a new social philosophy into the British public. During the Age of Reason, a spirit of skepticism challenged previous traditions and long-held beliefs.Philosophical thinkers such as Nonentities introduced a humanitarian conscience to the public through many public works.

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One of the first written attacks directed against the slave trade was called Lisper’s des LOIS, which was an “oblique attack on slavery and the slave trade. ” In this book, Monotonousness wrote, ‘Where it is of the utmost importance that human nature should not be debased or dispirited, there ought to be no slavery’. Nonentities perceived slavery as an obstacle to liberty, and argued that laws were necessary in preventing the slave trade.Other philosophers influenced the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Randal. From the Enlightenment also stemmed political figures who had significant influences due to their legal standings. William Blackstone, a British Uris’s, wrote Commentaries on the Laws of England in which he rejected all necessities for slavery. In his opinion, slavery stood in the way of rationality and civil law.

Political figures like Blackstone assisted the philosophers to empower the ideas Of the Enlightenment and offered credibility to their position.Many British citizens were sympathetic to the philosopher’s perspective on slavery, which ultimately lead to a transformation in the intellectual discussion of slavery among lawyers, philosophers and political figures. The teachings and beliefs of several religious groups such as the influential Quakers and Evangelical Christians, significantly influenced Great Britain to disengage ships from participating in the slave trade. These religious groups gained significant political and social importance with their campaign against the slave trade.The Quakers, who were also known as the Society of Friends were firm believers in pacifism, which meant that they opposed human bondage. To reaffirm this belief, in 1871 they created a new rule in which any member participating in the slave trade would be banished. In 1 783, the London Yearly meeting presented its first petition against slavery o Parliament, which included the signatures of 273 Quakers and Evangelical Christians.

This petition stated that slavery was simply incompatible with Christian beliefs as it interfered with natural rights of humans as well as the justice of mankind.In 1787, the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed. This society, would present their findings concerning the slaving voyages to the government. These reports often led to a discussion of slavery in the House of Commons. These reports, along with their other works played a crucial role in publicizing the antislavery belief. The Quakers based their attack on slavery around three principles: benevolence, the belief that later sections of the Bible were more relevant than earlier teachings, and God’s providence.They also held pacifist beliefs and believed that everyone is equal despite differences in skin color and status, in the eyes of God.

Consequently, slavery was a violation of this fundamental belief. American abolitionists including John Holman and Anthony Benzene heard about the Quakers’ work in England, and decided to assist with the Quakers campaigning. Benzene had thousands of pamphlets published advocating against the slave trade to British parliament and other British politicians. The Evangelical Chi rations of the Anglican Church joined forces with the Quakers in promoting antislavery as well.They shared the many beliefs with the Quakers and similarly labeled slavery. The Anglican Church also had strong leaders including William Wildflower, Thomas Clarion and John Newton. The members of the evangelical group became known as the Clamp Sect and dedicated their time to moral reformation and upholding morals in everyday life.

These groups continued to take part in other anti-slave trade managing well after 1 787, hoping to put an end to the Atlantic slave trade carried out between Africa, Europe and the Americas. Another important influence of the banishment of British ships was the antislavery propaganda.Members of the abolitionist committees brought antislavery to Parliament& attention in 1 787 with over a hundred petitions against Britain’s involvement in the slave trade. These petitions were used as devices “for expressing extra- parliamentary pressure on a public issue. ” The campaign employed such actions on protests or mass petitioning which pressured the government into asking changes. In particular, popular pressure “played an important part in signaling to governments that many British people found the slave trade morally distasteful. Another form of propaganda emerged from public lectures about the cruelty of the slave trade given by antislavery activists.

At these presentations, major campaigners would also distribute various pieces of literature including pamphlets to the public, explaining their cause. Major campaigners such as James Phillips, published and distributed thousands of books In addition, ex-slaves such as Aloud Equation and Autobahn Goanna tot wrote about their personal sorrows and hardships while being a part of the slave trade and spoke out at public events.Furthermore, many forms of art contributed to the campaigning. “Long-forgotten poems and plays” were re-introduced concerning the oppression of African slaves. Hymns were also written to help expose the moral injustices of slavery, the most famous being Amazing Grace written by Reverend John Newton. All of these methods of propaganda were easily integrated into British culture, while effectively raising awareness of the necessity to end Britain’s participation in the slave trade. These methods of raising public awareness allowed for the publicizing Of international events regarding the slave trade.

An early example of this is a legal case called the Gong case. In 1 783, the captain of a Liverpool slaving ship threw 131 sick black slaves overboard in order to collect insurance for the loss of human cargo. This incident was brought to public attention, which was a major benefit to the antislavery movement as well as to the individual campaign groups. This is evident as prints were created of this slaving vessel and were presented to parliamentary hearings in 1788 and 1789. This print has become “one of the most enduring symbols of oppression associated with any social reform movement in modern history. Another example of an international event, which generated significant attention, was the Somerset case. This case involved James Somerset, a slave who had been taken to London with his slaveholder from Boston.

However, Somerset had run away in 1 771, he was eventually captured and placed on a vessel directed to Jamaica. The jurist Lord Mansfield took a major step towards ending the participation of British ships in the slave trade when he decided that “English awe did not support the keeping of a slave on English soil and so Somerset must be discharged. Although this decision did not end Britain’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, this event was widely publicized as the first attempt in controlling British slaveholders. Ultimately, the Somerset case “gravely weakened the position of all slaveholders in England,” therefore denying any participants in the slave trade the support they needed. An economic shift due to The Industrial Revolution as well as a growing capitalist market caused for the questioning of the necessity of the slave trade in theBritish economy. After the Seven Years War, many sugar estates in the Caribbean and Jamaica had suffered hardships including soil exhaustion and overproduction. In addition, after 1776, when the United States became independent, Britain’s sugar colonies, such as Jamaica and Barbados gradually weakened.

This was a direct result of the United States inability to trade directly with the French and the Dutch in the West Indies. Also, towards the end of the eighteenth century, the profits of the slave trade were slowly declining.Through the development of new factories and machinery, there as new hope in investing into industries and commerce as opposed to the slave trade. These developments brought the necessities for new jobs and new workers, resulting in rapid industrialization. The Industrial Revolution, which also brought increased economic opportunity and power to the lower and middle classes, began to weaken the Atlantic slave trade system. Britain no longer relied on slave-based goods and was more able to benefit from new systems. Economic determinism explained why the abolition of the slave trade occurred in 1807.

” All of these changes resulted in less involvement as well as success in the British slave trade and only the abolitionist movement could best reflect “the needs and values of the emerging capitalist order. ” Although the anti-slave trade movement endured obstacles and struggles in the 1 8th century, the campaigners and abolitionists persisted which ultimately led to causing the British government’s decision to ban Britain’s participation in the transatlantic slave trade in 1807.Minority groups such as the Quakers and the English Evangelical Christians worked hard to gain both social and political status and deliver their antislavery enticements to the wider public. The various forms of antislavery propaganda not only raised public awareness but it pressured politicians with signatures and petitions. The emerging Enlightenment ideals called for a humanistic approach to society and raised significant questions surrounding the slave trade.The accumulation of international events called to attention the problems of the slave trade. The industrial revolution and the growing capitalist market caused an economic shift, which eliminated the need for the participation in the British slave trade.

The abolition of the Slave Trade Act Of 807 not only altered British society but it eventually led to an important goal of civilizing and modernizing Europe which created a pattern to be ‘SVGA repeated in the nineteenth century by virtually every nation involved in slave trafficking.

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