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Why did it take until 1833 for the British government to illegalise the transatlantic slave trade?

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Introduction

Nicola Armstrong Why did it take until 1833 for the British government to illegalise the transatlantic slave trade? The transatlantic slave trade bean in the British empire in 1562 by John Hawkins who "being amongst other particulars assured, that Negro's were very good merchandise in Hispaniola, and that store of Negro's might easily bee had upon the coast of Guinea resolved with himself to make triall" (1) Soon after Hawkins success in the trade other companies were set up to enter the trade. The trade itself resolved around three separate strands of a complete voyage. The first being the Outward passage that consisted of Bristol (the leading city in the British slave due to its l9cation on the Atlantic side of Britain) merchants, exporting goods of "cloth...muskets...pistols...lead...iron...copper rods...brandy...and pipe beads..." (2) To Africa where they would be exchanged for slave. Once the saves had been loaded onto the ships they set sail for the Americas or the Caribbean, the strand of the journey became known as the middle passage. Many historians have described the middle passage has being horrific and Brutal as according to Mannix and Cowley (1962) "the cargo of a vessel of a hundred tons or little more is calculated to purchase 220 to 250 slaves. Their lodging rooms below the deck, which are three, beside a place for the sick, are sometimes more than feet high and sometimes less; and his height divided toward the middle for the slaves lie in two rows, one above the other on each side of the ship" (3). The horrors of the middle passage were described by the Wilberforce committee (abolitionists) in a plan of the slaving Brookes (4) ...read more.

Middle

Many supporters of the trade who believed that if the trade was to be abolished there would be economic ruin for many. According to a slave owner in Mozambique when commenting on the abolition of the slave trade "I feel it is best, but it will never pay to adopt it. I am here. I must be here. What am I to do? Starve? Not if I can help it. I do as others do I keep slaves..."(14). Further evidence to support the motion of economic ruin can be seen when looking into the people and organisation involved in the slave trade. In 1683 it was recorded that 'seven hundred people in London and a thousand in Kidderminster owed their employment to the manufacture of goods exchanged for slaves in Africa' (15). As these figures only show London and Kidderminster, notably there were thousands more who were employed in the trade such as the seaman which is reported to of been "18,400...were directly and indirectly...employed..."(15). Other people who were involved in the trade were the people who built the trade ship, the slave company owners, the slave owners themselves, auctioneers, food sellers who sold the food for the slaves to eat, whip makers, branding iron makers and thousands more were directly or indirectly involved in the slave trade which meant that if the trade was abolished they would suffer, which is why key supporters of the trade used this argument to keep the trade going, as according to James Boswell the slave trade was a "necessary branch of commercial interest...". The idea of the trade being an economic success and so being one of the reasons why slavery lasted for so long also leads me onto another reason why it took for so long to end slavery. ...read more.

Conclusion

One of the leading abolitionists against the slave trade was that of the Quakers "...a religious group known for their peacefulness..." (13). In 1688, Quakers raised the issue of the slave trade "Though they are black...we can not conceive there is more liberty to have them as slaves than it is to have other white ones...Those who steal or rob men and those who buy or purchase them, are they not alike?" This argument by the Quakers addresses the immoralities of the trade, but yet failed to change the law in any significant way. However in 1724 Quakers and Wesleyan Evangelicals whose religion was based up the "direct service of their fellow man" (13) formed the 'Society of friends' who claimed in their speech's declared that they will "fight the evils of the slave trade". It was the 'Society of friends' who began the fight for the abolition of salve trade which evidently encouraged more people such as Wilberforce to think of the slave trade as immoral, therefore creating support for the abolition consequently leading to the abolition of the slave trade in 1833. It is this idea a chain leading to the abolition of the slave trade, which is one, the reasons why; it took until 1833 for the British government to illegalise the transatlantic slave trade. The reason being even thought the 'Society of Friends' rose issues regarding the slave trade being immoral their arguments did not create a national opposition to the trade, or a major awareness of it. Further awareness of the immoralities slave trade were brought by Granville Sharp Idea of time = 8 Conclusion brings together arguments. ...read more.

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