Great Britain and the Slave Trade, 1839-1865

Great Britain and the Slave Trade, 1839-1865

Great Britain and the Slave Trade, 1839-1865

Great Britain and the Slave Trade, 1839-1865

Excerpt

Great Britain relinquished her slave trade in 1807, and for the next sixty years Was largely occupied in the task of inducing other nations to make and to keep a similar renunciation. That her motives were disinterested can scarcely be questioned. There were large classes in this country which indirectly derived a profit from the slave trade, and the only people who had anything to gain from its suppression were the West Indian proprietors. Their interest was never a factor of importance in the struggle, and indeed as early as 1833, when they obtained a gift of twenty millions as the price of emancipation, it became an obstacle, as discouraging further sacrifices on behalf of the negroes; and this consideration contributed to influence the Government on the only occasion on which it may be thought to have gone back on its path-- the equalisation of the sugar duties in 1846. At the peace of 1815, which opened the Continent to British propaganda against the slave trade, the declaration of this policy was received with an enthusiasm--Wellington called it a "frenzy"--which has often been recalled; but the task was to prove tedious, toilsome and burdensome beyond all expectation; and one must not suppose that it was carried on, year after year, amid the plaudits . . .

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