Slavery Atlantic Trade and Arab Slavery: It Is Estimated That about 14m Africans Were Enslaved by Arabs over a Period of 1,300 Years. It Is Time to Note What They Did, Writes Marika Sherwood

Article excerpt

It is important to differentiate between the trade in enslaved Africans and slavery. The abolition of the Atlantic trade by British traders was certainly agreed by both Houses of Parliament. Just why this was has been a subject of considerable debate among historians.


To stop the trade and to prevent it simply passing into other traders' hands, Britain had to obtain agreement to the cessation from other European and American traders. This was obtained, often by the payment of a "fee" to the governments concerned. Compensation, if you like. However, as far as it has been possible to discover, no compensation was offered to the British traders.

Or could one argue that no compensadon was needed as little was done to stop the "nefarious trade" for a number of years?

A couple of totally unsuitable vessels were sent out to Sierra Leone to intercept slaving vessels, but they hardly stopped any. Nothing else was put in place--not even when Parliament was informed of slavers leaving from the River Thames, under their very noses!

And even when some more effective attempts were made, the illegal trade continued. As had trade between the islands and from the islands to the mainland.

The Anti-Slavery Society and others alerted Parliament to the many ways the law was being transgressed. Parliament responded by passing amendments to the Act. It passed so many that they had to be consolidated twice, in 1822 and 1828.

But the trade continued unchecked until the 184os when a more appropriate Royal Naval Squadron was sent to West Africa and seizures increased. However, the captured slaving vessels were then often sold to slavers!

But the Atlantic trade continued until slavery was outlawed in Cuba and Brazil in the 1880s. Around 80% of Brazil's population has some African ancestry.

We shall never know the total numbers enslaved--that is, how many died in the process of enslavement, on the march to the coast, while awaiting shipment and then on the slave ships.

The most recent work by David Eltis on actual voyage records (and not all exist) is that around 9.5 million enslaved were "embarked" between 1501 and 1811, and 3 million between 1811 and 1866.


The compensation that was offered by the British government was to slave-owners, not traders. It obtained the fawn it dispensed (over Eibn today), as a loan from the Rothschild banking family.

The 1833 Emancipation Act applied to only four parts of the British empire: the Caribbean, Cape Town, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Canada. Other colonies, or British trading posts which eventually be-came colonies--for example, in West and East Africa--were not mentioned in the Act. India was specifically excluded. The freed men, women and children received no compensation.

How was it that Liverpool continued to flourish even when the city's two MPs, Gascoyne and Tarleton, advised Parliament that the city would die if the trade was stopped? Precisely because it was not stopped and Liverpool traders and merchants (for example, in guns and gun-powder and trading goods), bankers and shipbuilders continued to participate in the illegal trade.

Liverpool supported the Confederate rebel states in the American Civil War: despite neutrality being the official British government policy, the city built and supplied vessels, ammunition and funds to the slave-holding Southern states. …


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.