Introduction | Somerset Case | The Zong Case  | Abolishing the Slave Trade | Ending Slavery | "Time of the Ancient Mariner | Blake's Plates for Stedman | "To Toussaint L'Ouverture"

Abolishing the Slave Trade

DocumentThe document for the Abolition Act of 1807.
In 1807, Parliament finally voted to end the slave trade, in the Abolition Act of 1807. This act didn’t end slavery, but did end the trade as carried out by British mercantile ships. The social and political aristocracy was staunchly opposed to the end of the slave trade, as they predicted it would bring economic ruin to cities and to the nation. James Walvin tells how “the commercial and political élite of Bristol predicted doom and depression for that city following the end of the slave trade,” and, in Liverpool (a major port for the slave trade) “The city’s MPs, its leading merchants and local politicians were as one, for the best part of twenty years, in believing that the slave trade was vital to the economic interests of that city and of the nation at large” (Walvin 260).

For the most part, abolitionists were not welcome in cities known to be associated with the slave trade, such as Bristol and Liverpool, and Walvin says that sailors in particular became known for inflicting violence against abolitionists. The opposition to the Abolition Act of 1807 demonstrated the importance of the slave trade in maintaining the economic success of the elite.

John Stromski

Select Bibliography

Walvin, James. “Ending it All: The Crusade Against Slavery.” Black Ivory: Slavery in the British Empire. 2nd ed.
     Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 2001. Print.