Why was slavery abolished in 1833?
The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was the culmination of the dedicated effort of a great many people and marked the end of slave ownership in British colonies. In order to assess and understand the relative influences on the passing of this act we can break them down into three broad categories; social, economic and political.
In 1833 Britain was a country that prided itself on its forward thinking and enlightened nature. With the onset of the industrial revolution, modernisation was at the forefront of peoples minds and had made slavery seem to many, a barbaric throwback to another age. This is due in part to an influx of people moving into the cities which increased the amount of middle class non conformists such as the Quakers or Methodists. This is very important as the Great Reform Act of 1832 meant that most of the middle classes now had the right to vote. This added a great deal of political weight to the public voice which could obviously then be used to help get slavery abolished. Another social aspect that influenced whether the slave trade was abolished was the greatly increased numbers of slaves who were converted to Christianity, but also the amount of slaves who were born Christian. Much of this was thanks to the Methodist missionaries of the time who travelled to British colonies to spread the word of God amoung the slaves. This posed an awkward moral question to the leaders of a devoutly Christian Britain, as they could not deny that it was against their own religion to enslave a fellow Christian, thus providing another reason for the immediate abolition of slavery.
Social issues amongst the slaves themselves also provided fuel for the abolition arugment. There was growing unrest among the slave population, due to the incorrect assumption among many that the 1807 Slave Trade Act would mean that they would be freed. This unrest had maifested itself in three major rebellions between 1807 and 1833 in...
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