Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Brazil

By Lawrence F. Hill | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE ABOLITION OF THE AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE TO BRAZIL

OF ALL the subjects that fall within the century of American-Brazilian relations, the African slave trade is the most important. But not only is it the most important; it is also the most intricate in its nature and therefore the most difficult of accurate characterization. The intricacy results partly from the fact that several nations had a share in it. Since Great Britain played a leading röle in the abolition of the traffic, an attempt at elucidation requires at least careful consideration of her activity.

Although not the first Old World power to take action, Great Britain responded to the agitation of Clarkson, Sharpe, and Wilberforce and passed the act of March 25, 1807, which aimed to prevent participation in the trade by British subjects. Seventeen years later this act was followed by another which made the crime piracy.1 It was soon evident, however, that complete eradication of the evil must depend upon concerted action of all nations rather than upon the independent action of a few. Partly because of her prestige and power, Great Britain assumed leadership in the larger movement. The program evolved by her had two main phases, namely, the negotiations of treaties with both the civilized nations and the African tribes for the suppression of the traffic and the maintenance of forts upon, and cruisers off, the African coast to enforce these treaties.2 The first phase of this program was remarkably successful, for by 1842

____________________
1
British and Foreign State Papers, 1815- 1816, pp. 195et seq. and 292et seq.
2
Parliamentary Papers, Slave Trade, Number 35, 1850, pp. 3-8.

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