Little Bits of History

Slavery Abolished

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 1, 2014
Protector of Slaves Office (Trinidad) by Richard Bridgens

Protector of Slaves Office (Trinidad) by Richard Bridgens

August 1, 1834: The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 goes into effect. The Parliament of the United Kingdom abolished slavery throughout the British Empire – with the exceptions “of the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company” along with the “Island of Ceylon” and the “Island of Saint Helena.” These areas eliminated slavery in 1843. The Act was given Royal Assent on August 28, 1833. It was put into practice on this day with adoption at the Cape of Good Hope on December 1, 1834 and Mauritius on February 1, 1835. The Slave Trade Acts of 1843 and 1873 further clarified the law. The Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1998 repealed the laws although later anti-slavery legislation remains.

Slavery within the British Empire began in 1619 when Africans were brought to Jamestown, Virginia, then a colony of the Virginia Company of London. Nearly 100 years later, in 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht gave a monopoly to the UK over Asiento – when the Spanish government gave permission to other countries to sell slaves to Spanish colonies. By 1772, the Somerset’s Case had Lord Mansfield granting a slave emancipation in England. This launched the effort to abolish slavery throughout the Empire since the decision’s foundation was the understanding that British law did not support the concept of slavery. There was no legal basis for exerting control over another human.

After the American Revolutionary War was over, there was a push to stop the slave trade within the Empire. The Slave Trade Act of 1807 (passed in 1808) outlawed the slave trade but not slavery itself. The Royal Navy’s West African Squadron patrolled the coast and suppressed trade but was unable to entirely stop it. Between 1808 and 1860 they captured 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans with many of them resettled in Jamaica and the Bahamas. In 1832 the Anti-Slavery Society was formed. The slave revolt in Jamaica in December of 1831 led to two inquiries held by the British Parliament and helped spur the enactment of this law.

On this day, slavery was technically abolished, but in practice, only children under the age of six were freed. For those over the age of six, freedom came in two stages. The slaves were rechristened as “apprentices” and their servitude was abolished in steps. The first “apprenticeship” ended on August 1, 1838 and the second was done on August 1, 1840. Slave owners were compensated for loss of property. The “freed” slaves were not compensated and were dismayed at the length of time they were still in a forced work situation. When the Act was repealed, it was replaced by the Human Rights Act 1998 which prohibits holding people as slaves.

No trace of slavery ought to mix with the studies of the freeborn man. No study, pursued under compulsion, remains rooted in the memory. – Plato

For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery. – Jonathan Swift

Slavery is a weed that grows on every soil. – Edmund Burke

Racism, xenophobia and unfair discrimination have spawned slavery, when human beings have bought and sold and owned and branded fellow human beings as if they were so many beasts of burden. – Desmond Tutu

Also on this day: “You’ll never look at music the same way again” – In 1981, MTV begins broadcasting.
Collapse – In 2007, the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed.
University of Texas Sniper – In 1966, the Texas Sniper struck.
London Bridge is Going Up – In 1831, a new bridge across the River Thames opened.

One Response

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  1. hairballexpress said, on August 2, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    It’s not right fur any human to be a slave…(except fur kat slaves, that is)! *(purrs)*

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