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The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the Context of Atlantic Slavery

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Title: The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the Context of Atlantic Slavery


1
The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the
Context of Atlantic Slavery
  • Franklin W. Knight
  • York University
  • Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2
The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the
Context of Atlantic Slavery
  • York University Lecture
  • Initial observations
  • Important dates
  • Conditions for abolition
  • The Trade
  • Conditions of work
  • Generalizing about trade
  • Work and social formation
  • Haitian Revolution and abolition
  • Final observations

3
The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the
Context of Atlantic Slavery
  • 1807 2007 The bi-centenary of the abolition of
    British transatlantic slave trade.
  • How important is this commemoration? And for whom
    is this really important?

4
The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the
Context of Atlantic Slavery
  • Initial Observations
  • The English trade abolition in May, 1807
  • President Thomas Jefferson abolished the US trade
    for its citizens in January, 1808
  • Before 1808 The British dominated the
    transatlantic slave trade.
  • British abolition in affecting volume.

5
The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the
Context of Atlantic Slavery
  • British abolition important step in complex
    process of abolition.
  • British abolition of its trade neither the
    beginning nor end of long history transatlantic
    trade or of slavery.
  • But it is worth looking at factors affecting
    British abolition.

6
The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the
Context of Atlantic Slavery
7
The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the
Context of Atlantic Slavery
  • Important dates
  • 1502 Africans arrive in Hispaniola.
  • 1518 Cédulas issued to individual traders.
  • 1650-1800 The Caribbean Sugar Revolutions.
  • 1791 Slave Revolt in Saint-Domingue.
  • 1794 French National Assembly abolishes slavery
    in French Antilles.

8
The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the
Context of Atlantic Slavery
  • Important dates
  • 1794 USA Congress prohibits and penalizes
    construction of boats destined for slave trade .
  • 1801.The constitution of Saint-Domingue under
    Toussaint Louverture abolishes slavery.
  • 1804. Haiti declares all its citizens free.
  • 1807. Great Britain abolishes its slave trade.
  • 1808. The USA abolishes its slave trade.
  • 1810. England and Portugal sign treaty to abolish
    trade gradually.
  • 1815.Congress of Vienna declares slave trading
    illegal
  • Haiti aids Simón Bolivar on condition that
    slavery abolished.
  • 1817. Spain agrees to abolish trade in 1820

9
The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the
Context of Atlantic Slavery
  • More important dates
  • 1824. Slavery abolished in Central America
  • 1834-38. Abolition in British Antilles
  • 1848. Abolition in The French Antilles.
  • 1863. Dutch abolish slavery
  • 1865.USA Abolishes slavery.
  • 1872. Spain abolishes slavery in Spain
  • 1873. Spain abolishes slavery in Puerto Rico
  • 1886. Spain abolishes slavery in Cuba
  • 1888. Brazil abolishes slavery.

10
The Abolition of the British Slave Trade and the
Context of Atlantic Slavery
  • Conditions for abolition
  • Concerned Individuals.
  • The Enlightenment Ideas (Between 1680 and
    mid-19th Century).
  • Favorable Circumstances.

11
1. Concerned Individuals
  • Early Anti-Slavery
  • Bartolomé de las Casas, (1484-1566)
  • Born in Seville died in Madrid.
  • Brevísima relación.. (1540)
  • Debate with Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, 1550-1551
    en Valladolid.

12
1. Concerned Individuals
  • Early Anti-slavery
  • Anthony Benezet (1713-1784)
  • Born in France. Lived in London before emigrating
    to Philadelphia in 1731.
  • Converted to Quakers and wrote more than 400
    anti-slavery articles.
  • His Some Historical Account of Guinea (1772)
    impressed Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson and
    John Wesley

13
1. Concerned Individuals
  • Granville Sharp (1735 -1813) son of archbishop
    of York.
  • Musical, intellectual, skilled in Greek and
    Latin.
  • Founded The Society for the Abolition of Slavery
    (1787).
  • Promoter of Free Colony of Sierra Leone.
  • Promoter of the British and Foreign Bible
    Society.
  • Founded Society for the Conversion of Jews.

14
1. Concerned Individuals
  • Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846)
  • Son of Rev. John Clarkson
  • Religious although not priest
  • U of Cambridge Latin essay (1785) Is it lawful
    to enslave the unconsenting?
  • Founded Committee for the Abolition of the Slave
    Trade (1787)
  • Friend of Gustavus Vassa (Olaudah Equiano)
  • Tireless writer.

15
1. Concerned Individuals
  • William Wilberforce (1759-1833)
  • Son of important Hull (Yorkshire) merchant.
  • Evangelist, graduated from Cambridge.
  • Bought a seat in parliament in 1780.
  • Friend of William Pitt, Jr.
  • Brought first bill to abolish slave trade in
    1791.
  • Helped Pitt put through bill in 1806 to bar
    English crews on non-English slave ships.
  • Buried in Westminster Abbey beside Pitt.

16
1. Concerned Individuals
  • Basis of Success
  • Friends and acquaintances from British upper
    classes.
  • All had some strong religious conviction.
  • All had ability to sway crowds inside and outside
    Parliament gifted speakers.
  • Possessed keen intellect, pro-reformist in all
    areas not just social religion, manners,
    language, economy, animal rights and poor rights.

17
2. Impact of the Enlightenment
  • Enlightenment important
  • Intellectual y commercial contexts.
  • The Fundamental Changes of the XVIII Century.
  • The Enlightenment emphasized efficiency or
    rationality.

18
2. Impact of the Enlightenment.
Lord Mansfield
The Abbé Raynal
Montesquieu
Francisco Arango y Parreño
19
2. Impact of the Enlightenment
  • Charles Louis Baron de Montesquieu y Secondat
    (1689-1755)
  • Guillaume-Thomas François Raynal (1713-1796)
  • Adam Smith (1723-1790)
  • William Murray, (Lord Mansfield) (1705-1793)
  • Edward Long (1734-1813)
  • Francisco Arango y Parreño (1765-1837)

20
2. Impact of the Enlightenment
  • The Abbé Raynals work influenced many including
    Adam Smith and appear profusely in The Wealth of
    Nations (1776))

21
2. Impact of the Enlightenment
  • No trade was more important than the African
    slave trade in the XVIII-XIX centuries.
  • The African slave trade was not only commerce but
    also the largest migration of its time.
  • The slave trade was fundamental in transforming
    and modernizing the world.

22
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
23
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
24
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
25
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • Table from Eltis, et.al.

26
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
27
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • Geography of the trade

28
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • West African origins

29
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • Africa in the XVIII Century

30
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • Transporting slaves
  • to holding stations

31
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
32
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
33
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
34
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
35
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
36
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • Public sales

37
3. The Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • Africans Captured after 1808

38
4. Conditions of work in Slavery.
39
4. Conditions of work in Slavery.
  • Tobacco in Cuba

40
4. Conditions of work in Slavery.
  • Sugarmill, Antigua, 1828

41
4. Conditions of work in Slavery.
  • Hacienda Buena Vista slaves in Puerto Rico, 1858

42
4. Conditions of work in Slavery.
  • Coffee

43
4. Conditions of work in Slavery.
  • Transporting sugar, Jamaica 1820

44
5. Generalizing about the Trade
  • El commerce according to D. Eltis et al.
  • 27,233 voyages
  • 14,463 voyages mentioned once.
  • 25,990 voyages have name of vessel.
  • 15,778 voyages show arrival port in the
    Americas.
  • 5,130 voyages show death on board during voyage.

45
5. Generalizing about the Trade
  • Data sufficient to indicate African origins of
    those destined for the Americas.
  • Possible to trace cultural characteristics in
    Africa and in the Americas.
  • Important to determine date of arrival in the
    Americas.

46
5. Generalizing about the Trade
  • Africans did not move a cohesive culture to the
    Americas
  • Age and sex ratios important in cultural
    construction.
  • Miscegenation important consequence of the trade
    as indicated here
  • Equally important was the density of the African
    cohort
  • Overall type of society also very important
  • Settler society vs Exploitation society.

47
6. The nature of work and social formation
  • Importance of work conditions in the Americas
  • Plantation zones.
  • Frontier areas.
  • Urban settings.
  • Skills and access to economy.

48
7. General Observations
  • Since name of vessel is only indicator no
    passenger lists exist. Not possible to trace
    individual arrivals as in case of indentureds.
  • The Transatlantic slave trade is more than
    commerce also a study in migration.

49
7. General Observations
  • Give me your tired, your poor
  • Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
  • 3. Before 1820 African immigrants exceeded
    non-African by 31.
  • 4. The volume of the trade responded to local
    labor availability and started with decimation of
    Indians.

50
7. General Observations
  • 5. Between 1527 and 1866 about 12.0 of Africans
    died in transit.
  • 7. Mortality declined after 1700 from technical
    changes and administrative and legal
    interventions.
  • 8. 196 vessels recorded no deaths in transit.

51
7. General Observations
  • 9. Although African sources were varied the
    actual ports involved in the trade were few.

52
7. General Observations
  • 10. Cuba and Barbados received the most varied
    supply of Africans during the history of the
    trade.

53
7. General Observations
  • 11. The abolition of the trade reflected changes
    in the international context.
  • French production in the XVIII and XIX
    centuries
  • Changes in production zones in the Antilles
    especially after the 7 Years War.
  • The slave revolt and consequent abolition in
    Saint-Domingue/Haiti
  • The competition between beet sugar and cane sugar
    in the nineteenth century.

54
8. The Haitian Revolution
55
8. The Haitian Revolution
56
8. The Haitian Revolution
  • The American Revolutions of the 18th century are
    all important.
  • The revolution in the USA legitimized state
    formation and began abolition in some northern
    states.
  • The French revolution resulted in the 2nd free
    state in the Americas.

57
8. The Haitian Revolution
  • Haitians were the first to create a totally free
    society in the Americas with their abolition of
    1794 and their constitution that in their country
    all people would be free and equal

58
Final Observations
  • The Abolition of the British Slave trade was
    important but must be placed in context.
  • Nothing rivaled the abolition of slavery.
  • The abolition of the trade, regardless of
    perspective, must include the heroic deeds of
    the slaves themselves and above all those of
    Saint-Domingue.

59
Selected Bibliography
  • Philip D. Curtin, The Atlantic Slave Trade A
    Census (Madison University of Wisconsin Press,
    1969)
  • Madeleine Burnside and Rosemarie Robotham, Spirit
    of the Passage. The Transatlantic Slave Trade in
    the Seventeenth Century (New York Simon
    Schuster, 1997)
  • David Eltis, Stephen D. Behrendt, David
    Richardson, y Herbert S. Klein, THE
    TRANS-ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE. A DATABASE ON CD-ROM
    (Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 1999)
  • David Eltis, THE RISE OF AFRICAN SLAVERY IN THE
    AMERICAS (Cambridge Cambridge University Press,
    2000)
  • David Eltis, Economic Growth and the Ending of
    the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New York Oxford
    University Press, 1987)
  • Joseph E. Inikori and Stanley Engerman, editors,
    The Atlantic Slave Trade. Effects on Economies,
    Societies, and Peoples in Africa, the Americas,
    and Europe (Durham, NC Duke University Press,
    1992)
  • Herbert S. Klein, The Middle Passage. Comparative
    Studies in the Atlantic Slave Trade (Princeton
    Princeton University Press, 1978)
  • Herbert S. Klein, The Atlantic Slave Trade
    (Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 1999)
  • Enriqueta Vila Vilar, Hispanoamérica y el
    comercio de esclavos los asientos portugueses
    (Sevilla,1977)
  • Archivo General de Indias, Indiferente General
    419 Libros iii- vii
  • Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade. The Story of the
    Atlantic Slave Trade 1440-1870 (New York Simon
    Schuster,1997)
  • Patrick Villiers, Traite des Noirs et navires
    négriers au XVIIIo siècle (Grenoble Editions des
    4 seigneurs, 1982)
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