Why was slavery abolished?

Exploring the reasons Slavery was abolished

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In 1807, British Parliament abolished the buying and selling of slaves. Unfortunately, until 1833-when all parts of slavery were abolished- you were still allowed to own a slave. I am going to explore reasons as to why slavery was abolished, and who the most significant figure in this was.

The campaigns of William Wilberforce and other Quakers (including Thomas Clarkson) in 1997-1807, were extremely significant in the abolition of slavery. He was a Quaker MP who led 12 other devout Christians in his campaigns. He did this because he believed slavery led against Christian teachings and was an un-holy sin. He led many speeches about anti-slavery and they were particularly effective, which could possibly be due to the fact that he had a high place in British Parliament, so people believed they could trust his judgement.

Thomas Clarkson was a fellow campaigner whose job was to collect gruesome information about the conditions aboard slavery ships and at plantations. This sickened the public and so they helped to make a stop to slavery. These campaigns helped to end slavery as Parliament listened to what Wilberforce was saying and helped him take steps toward the end of slavery.

Parliament were persuaded by their pearls of wisdom and knowledge and so decided that the best thing to do was to place an abolition of slavery in 1807, later to be followed by a total abolition in 1833. They were also helped by white working class campaigners because they helped them protest against slavery by joining their campaign and recruiting new members. Because of the help the Quakers had from white working class campaigners, I don’t believe that they were significant enough in the abolition of slavery. However, they were the people who helped Parliament in the decision of the abolition of slavery, due to Wilberforce’s place in Parliament, so I would rate them an 8/10 overall for their contribution to the abolition. The work of white, working class campaigners helped towards the end of slavery. In 1778 they sent petitions to Parliament telling them that they wanted a complete end to slavery, instantly. These petitions did not stop arriving until 1833, when a complete abolition of slavery was put into place. In Manchester in 1778, over 10,000 working people signed a petition against slavery. In Manchester in 1792, a different petition also against slavery was signed by over 20,000 working people. At this time the population of Manchester was 75,000 so although it was not the vast majority of people who signed, it was over a quarter of the population. Meetings were held against slavery and people in the hundreds and thousands attended. People didn’t rest until slavery was completely banned. This helped towards the end of slavery as these petitions showed the public’s determination and willpower, and that they were going to fight against slavery, until the day they died.

This also helped with the slave and black people’s fight against slavery too, as they knew that people cared about them, and so it made them determined to put a stop to slavery, as they knew that they weren’t worthless. I believe that for the above reasons, and because of their help with the Quaker campaigns, that they were a significant help towards anti-slavery, and that overall they deserve a 9/10 for their actions.

Slaves and black people contributed in a vast selection of ways to the end of slavery. Granville Sharp wasn’t black, but he was a sort of lawyer for black people back in the 18th century. He fought cases about whether a slave should be shipped to foreign countries or be sent back to their master after running away. The legal position of slavery in Britain was never clear, so the judges made a different verdict each time, but Sharp won most of his cases. Olaudah Equiano was a slave, captured at the age of ten. He worked as a ship’s captain and learnt to read and write when staying in England. He was then sent to North Africa where- after years of tireless service and gratitude- bought his freedom and got married back in England. He then wrote his life story in which he wrote about his vile life in slavery, which thousands of people read and were disgusted by. These people helped towards the end of slavery as Granville Sharp made many people free from a life of slavery, and Olaudah Equiano was the living proof of hope for slaves, which made them determined for an end to slavery and that one day there would be a light at the end of the tunnel for them. They also had help from slave revolts, as they also showed how conditions were and that they should be stopped. For these reasons I am rating the work of black people and slaves towards the end of slavery as 9/10.

In the late 17th century, the wanting of liberty and equality were what forced the French Revolution in 1789, and shortly after the revolution of French island St Dominique in the West Indies. Plantation owners were particularly horrible in St Dominique, and hated the ideas of a revolution. They planned and alliance with Britain, so that they would be protected in case of this. However, before the British Army arrived, the slaves set fire to the sugar crops and murdered their masters. When the British troupes arrived, they defeated them and the French Army. In 1800, they named their free island Haiti. The revolution was led by a slave named Toussaint L’Ouverture. This helped to end slavery because it cut back the profits made in slavery, so it was no longer as profitable as it once had been. It also made other Islands cautious as to whether a revolt would happen on their Island, so some plantations were shut down. This also helped the economical side of the end of slavery. Because of this, I am rating it an 8/10 of significance, as other reasons were more helpful towards the end of slavery on a widely spread area, whereas this was just on one Island scale.

The economics of slavery were an important factor as to why slavery ended. From 1770’s onwards, the West Indies became less and less important to Britain as they could buy cheaper sugar and tobacco from Brazil and Cuba. As a result plantations in The West Indies closed and within a year, Barbados went from importing 2728 slaves in 1771, and none in 1772.

In Britain, more than 400,000 people opposed to using slavery based sugar and tobacco in 1773, and anti-slavery factory owners made anti-slavery ornaments such as plates and cups, which became very popular. This helped to end slavery as it became a non-profitable system, so it was no longer needed and dissolved into abandoned fields and rotten crops. This also links with the revolts of slaves, as these places shut down due to the revolts and so less profit was being made. This is much more significant than anything else because despite your morals, if it makes a profit, many people will buy into it and when it stops being profitable, people will lose interest and start their next money making scheme. For the reasons stated above, I am rating the economics as 10/10 towards the end of slavery.

William Wilberforce’s campaigns against slavery weren’t the most effective reason for the end of slavery. I believe this because it took decades before their work started to take action yet as soon as the profits ran dry, nobody was interested with the prospect of slavery. Economics are the basis of everything, and when money trickles down the drain, so does everything else.
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