Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The 25th of March 2007 will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slavery trade act 1807

The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed by the British Parliament on March 25, 1807. The act imposed a fine of £100 for every slave found aboard a British ship. The intention was to entirely outlaw the slave trade within the British Empire, but the trade continued and captains in danger of being caught by the Royal Navy would often throw slaves into the sea to reduce the fine. In 1827, Britain declared that participation in the slave trade was piracy and punishable by death.

After the 1807 act, slaves were still held, though not sold, within the British Empire. In the 1820s, the abolitionist movement again became active, this time campaigning against the institution of slavery itself. The Anti-Slavery Society was founded in 1827. Many of the campaigners were those who had previously campaigned against the slave trade. On August 23, 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act outlawed slavery in the British colonies. On August 1, 1834, all slaves in the British Empire were emancipated, but still indentured to their former owners in an apprenticeship system which was finally abolished in 1838. £20 million was paid in compensation to plantation owners in the Caribbean.

From 1839, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society worked to outlaw slavery in other countries and to pressure the government to help enforce the suppression of the slave trade by declaring slave traders pirates and pursuing them. This organization continues today as Anti-Slavery International.

(read full article)

Text of Act

The Parliamentary Archives holds the original of this historic record