Why Are the British Efforts to Stamp out West African Slavery So Little Known?

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Executive Summary

  • The British made an enormous effort to put an end to the Atlantic Slave Trade.
  • Why is this action by England so little covered in modern discussions around slavery?


Something which is not generally considered by those that want to pull down monuments is that before the late 1700s, slavery was nearly universally common and accepted. (There was a case in 1722 where slavery was tested and rejected in a British court, but this view did not begin as a movement until roughly 60 years later). This was true of all societies on earth. Slavery was even more accepted in non-white countries, and in many countries, it is accepted to this day.

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The first societies to spring up to oppose slavery were in the 1780s, but it took a while for the movement to pick up steam, and it was only questioned in white societies — starting with the Danish and the Dutch, then the English. The reduction of slavery was imposed by European and then American colocalization on non-white civilizations in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. And it was resisted by these areas.

In 1807, the Act for the Abolishment of the Slave Trade was passed in England, and England not only passed the act but funded anti-slavery patrols off the coast of Africa. This act was designed to stop slave-trading — not slaves who had already been enslaved. 


The efforts by England were considerable, and they had a major impact on ending the Atlantic Slave Trade. They were a major influence on not only the US but many countries in reducing or eliminating slavery. Why this is not more broadly known and discussed is something noteworthy on its own.