The British empire has been a constant world superpower for the last several hundred years. Their success was in part from their colonizing and taking advantage of foreign lands. The change of the British empire from colonial superpower to abolishing slavery was a long process and took about a half century. The first attempts were in the 1770’s and went largely unnoticed until 1787 when the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed. (Tombs 366)
A new kind of British Empire was emerging, more racially and culturally diverse, more authoritarian… and in Britons mind more progressive. … Defeat in America made the British public less willing to overlook the immorality of the old colonial empire. –The English and their history, By Robert Tombs (365)
The growing abolitionist sentiment lead to a massive slave labor boycott and the British government receiving 519 petitions with almost four hundred thousand signatures in 1792. (Tombs 366) However, the end of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade came in 1807 when parliament banned it. Emancipation was not passed until 1833 as a gradual emancipation. Violent protests resulted in full emancipation in 1838, the slave owners were paid a total of 20 million pounds, (History.ac.uk) The approximate equivalent of 1.3 billion US dollars with inflation. The act did not free all however, it only affected those in the West Indies, Cape Town, Mauritius and Canada. (An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade) Geographically, the largest source of slavery wasn’t Britain, but Brazil and the Caribbeans, for more on this, Crash Course has a great description of the Atlantic slave trade.
By fair means and foul, Britain outwitted its European rivals and became the premier trader in the enslaved from the seventeenth century onwards, and retained this position till 1807.
Even though the abolition act banned the slave trade, production of slaving ships and the trade both continued with little opposition. In India alone during 1841 there was an estimated 9 million slaves who were freed in 1868 when it was outlawed. In some colonies full emancipation came even later, almost a century after the original act, Sierra Leone was liberated in 1927.
The British Empire controlled a massive amount of the slave trade. This Arc GIS map draws out the voyages and gives a scope to the massive amount of slave trading, making Britain’s turn around even more impressive, however long it took.
“>ARC GIS Map
The end of the slave trade was celebrated by this cologne bottle, produced in 1833 by Falcon Glassworks. It was most likely circulated in celebration, the image on the bottle was also widely distributed on many media platforms.
More important dates and events relating to the movement to abolition can be found on this timeline: UK Learning Timeline.
My most informative source was my numbers source (secondary), History.ac.uk, the author had an excellent grasp on the history and had great reputable statistics. My words source (secondary), The English and their History, by Robert Tombs I choose for the extensive background on England, even though it had less pertaining to my topic than other sources. My second words source (primary) was the actual document of 1807 found at 1807 Act . For my maps choice (Primary) I found a very interesting ARC GIS map of slave trade routes that had details of where the ships were going to and from and what cargo they had on board. My images source (primary) was difficult to find due to all the possible options, but I felt that the cologne bottle was very representative of the time and a very unique piece. The timeline for my times source (secondary) I choose mostly for its simple interface that gives links and all the information needed. My social media source (secondary) is from Crash course, a brilliant youtube channel that created a very informative episode on the slave trade.