What were the influences of the changing political climate on the abolition movement?

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  • Created by: becky.65
  • Created on: 06-03-18 19:35

The influence of the American War of Independence:

  • 1783 - loss of America furthered the support for abolition
  • It raised the questions about liberty and the rights of men
  • Also, the loss of their colony which had bought many of the slaves traded made the slave trade seen in a less positive light
  • Late 1700s - Americans formed their own identity and political practices, influenced by republicanism and individual liberty
  • American revolutionaries professed notions of equality and the wrongs of keeping people in slavery for the benefit of a mother country
  • 1790 - the parallels with slavery this drew in America began the abolition movement
  • In Britian, the issue became a popular topic of discussion and left behind a new political atmosphere that placed the importance of freedom to be emphasised by abolitionists
  • There was now more justification for ending the slave trade which was denying African's any freedom of their own
  • Having lost an important colony, there was soul-searching in Britian about its failings; slavery and the slave trade became a prominent feature in this reflection
  • The American Revolution sowed the seed of doubt about this trade in the mind of Britons
  • People became more receptive to the ideas of the abolitionists
  • Combined with Equiano's autobiography, the movement was able to build momentum in a more reflective environment
  • 1788 - Dolben Act passed
  • 1799 - Slave Regulation Act

Napoleon and the British slave trade:

  • The revolutionary war with France brought the slave trade directly into focus 
  • The French revolutionry government overturned slavery on the grounds of libertarian principle
  • 1802 - Napoleon took control of the country and reintroduced the slave trade into French colonies; encouraged a much more critical consideration of the practice by Britian
  • To oppose the slave trade was now became a symbol of patriotic duty and the movement flourished
  • Wilberforce was able to gain support of Pitt in 1806 and Grenville in 1807 which saw the slave trade come to an end
  • The timing would suggest that at best French slave activity was a contributing factor to the British decision
  • There was substantial interest in abolition even before the re-adoption of the slave trade in France
  • The re-emergence of the trade did not transform public opinion but rather reinforced it, breathing new life into the campaign 
  • 1794 - the new French government abolished slavery as part of securing the principles of liberty,


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