The most important reason

2 February 2018

What was the most important reason for the abolition of the slave Trade? By the time that the slave trade had been abolished in Britain and her colonies in 1807 eleven million men, women and children had been snatched from their homes. For historians understanding the factors that led to the abolition of the trade remains an important task. Whilst there is clearly a consensus on the main factors that led to this seismic and historic event there is obviously a difference in opinion on the most important due to the degree of subjectivity the question poses.The key factors that caused the abolition were the work of the working class, both their moral views as well as petitions; Economic factors; the work of black people and the middle class. The evidence have seen has led me to firmly and fervently believe that Economic factors played the most important role. Money makes the world go round and in the latter stage of the 18th century slavery was not making enough of it.

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Due to a rise in cheap sugar, a result of increased production in Central America, demand for West Indian sugar fell. As plantations closed, demand fell.Whilst in 1 771 2728 slaves were imported onto Barbados, a year later none were. Slavery became less profitable and in many cases the slaves themselves went from an asset to a liability. Furthermore, an increase in slave rebellion and revolts led to increased expenses. This epiphany caused the plantation owners to realize the benefit of employing former slaves. This was not due to them having a moral realization or hearing the terrible accounts of slaves, not even the cries of the British working class back home.

It was simply due to the fact that it was far more profitable to employ people whose wellbeing was not their responsibility.The economist, Adam Smith, in his book ‘ ‘The Wealth of the Nation” wrote that ‘the work of free men comes cheaper in the end than performed by slaves. ‘ This is because Slavery makes the slaves a reluctant labor force and so the slaves feel that their labor is useless as all the profits go to the master as the slaves are not allowed to own anything, not even themselves. Propose that the only reason that the MSP voted for the motion was the fact that it no longer mattered if slavery was banned as the import industry and trade hubs no longer relied on the foul practice to supply them with the commodities such as sugar, Tobacco and cotton.Leaded Alexander-Charles a contemporary of the abolition and a historian wrote “it was not by stories of atrocious cruelty that the eyes of Parliament were open to the wickedness of slavery. ” He went on to show that ‘While the free Negroes were steadily advancing in number, the slaves were dying, off at a rate which was truly appalling”. This is not to regard the other factors as redundant.

The role of black people played a crucial accelerator in the economic downfall of slavery as the revolts they took part in cost thousands to quell.This helped make the plantations sees economically viable and contributed to the employment of ex-slaves. However, arguably the bigger role-played by black people was the spread of information about the brutal atrocities and horrible working conditions slaves suffered. Equation helped publicize the issue in his autobiography “the interesting narrative”. They brought slavery to the attention of the working class majority and slowly but surely changed the opinion of the people. However, I do believe that if slavery were still economically prosperous the important politicians Of the port cities would not have let the bill pass.Before the petitions the politicians believe that the people were on their side.

However the series of petitions; firstly of 300,00 and then 3 million helped swing opinion within parliament. This change in opinion also could not of happened without the moral, sociological and theological reform that the age of the enlightenment and French revolution brought. The idea that all men were born equal was a clear and compelling argument for the abolition and it was that kind of thinking which propelled the case for freedom forward. However, I do not believe that the working class had the impact that others eve claimed.Because politicians were a rich landowning elite and did not have to take into account the electorate or constituent’s opinions as they owned the land their voters lived on. Furthermore, the majority of the MSP were controlled by the trading companies and sadly, like today; the corporations had more power than the people. That aside, they did put pressure on parliament and gave force to the political proponents of abolition.

Granville Sharp is a fantastic example of a middle class educated campaigner who helped fight the cases of black slaves as well as founding the society for effecting the abolition of the slave trade in 1787.Men like him both helped to educate the working class and persuade the upper on the importance of abolition. The reason I think the role of the middle class was not as important and was an underlying factor is due to the fact that public opinion was all ready changing due to the role Of black campaigners and the middle class merely accelerated it. However this long-term cause should not be disregarded as many slaves were saved and freed under the legal protection and effort of Mr.. Sharp- slaves who went on to change the opinion of the British public.Another example of a middle class campaigner was Wildflower.

Committed and scrupulous, devoted and tireless William fought for the rights of all men and the abolition of the slave trade. William persevered after many failed attempts and although he may not have been the most important factor just like the straw who broke the camels back, Wilderness’s bill broke the back of oppression and slavery Because as he said in his impassioned speech to parliament “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know. “To conclude, I think that the economic factor was the most important and although take a cynical view believe that the years of racism, apartheid and xenophobia after slavery shows that primarily it was not compassion that led to the abolition of slavery but the same greed that led to the industrial revolution in the years that followed. However I concede that even if as Niccole Machiavelli says “Politics has no relation to morals. ” It was the men like Wildflower and sharp, men with more morals than all the plantation owners combined who were also crucial to the abolition of the vile and disgusting trade.

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