Slavery was largely abolished in the 19th century in the United Kingdom and the United States. Before that, enslaved people shipped from Africa toiled in large plantations in the West under inhumane conditions. Laws allowed for this kind of treatment, and slaves didn’t have anyone to speak up for them. However, that changed, and slavery was brought to an end. In this article, we list seven reasons for the abolishment of slavery.
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The release of James Somerset, who was enslaved in England by a judge, was a significant moment for American slaves. It reaffirmed their cause of fighting for freedom. Slave owners knew they wouldn’t hold onto them for very long.
Slaves who escaped from their owners, religious Americans, and black Americans came together and rebelled against slavery. It became a political issue and those who were pro and against clashed fiercely.
The American Revolution won the country its independence from Great Britain. Those who fought for the country earned their freedom while others ran away. Although some states outlawed slavery, it was strengthened in some states with laws that would gradually phase it out. This set a path toward the end of slavery as they reset toward an equal society.
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Compensation of Slaveholders
This was a huge driving force towards the abolishment of slavery. Even though the tradeoff seems unreasonable, slave owners got up to $21 million. The British government negotiated this to enable them to end the practice.
Failure of the Amelioration Act
Britain passed the Amelioration Act in 1798 to improve the conditions of slaves in British colonies. They received financial compensation, lesser punishments for slaves and provision of basic needs like food, shelter, and education.
However, slave owners breached some of these protections, which led to the abolitionists calling for the abolishment of slavery instead of its continuation through “better conditions.”
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In the late 18th century, during the Enlightenment period, some people began rethinking slavery. Who should be considered human and worthy of equal treatment? This also came at a time when people looked at religious texts and argued that slavery was against Christianity.
The working class and the Christian community joined in the anti-slave movement because it was unethical and evil. These families benefited from slavery as they ran sugar and rum businesses, so they had more to lose than gain.
Nonetheless, their moral cause was greater than their economic cause and eventually led to the abolishment of slavery.
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The growing number of slaves in Britain’s colonies negatively affected the economy. At one point, the quantity of products made outweighed the number of people who consumed these products, which meant that prices in the market fell. The lack of profits led to a decline in the economy and, thus, the abolishment of slavery.
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The domestic slave population in the United States became self-sustaining. In what was characterized as “second slavery,” the population widened geographically.
Legitimate American citizens who were born into enslaved families continued working in these cotton plantations.
Their rise in numbers led to an agreement between the Northern and Southern states over the abolishment of slavery. This meant that the cotton businesses never failed.
Business people who employed and paid their workers argued about unfair competition from those who used slaves. Even though they bought voyages, they never made profits. The other motivating factor was the instability the slave trade created in Africa.
These middle-class businessmen weren’t able to trade with Africa and, hence, longed for the end of the practice to allow for free trade. The philosophical thinking was grounded on paying people to work for you as opposed to enslaving them.
These are the reasons that led to the abolishment of slavery. Even though some weren’t in the interest of the slaves, it finally gave them the freedom they longed for. However, the negative effects of the practice remain to this day, and the world is reconciling itself with this dark past.
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