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By James Walvin

Airborne dirt and dust jacket notes: "By the mid years of the 17th century the English prided themselves on their newly secured social and political freedoms. At a lot a similar time, besides the fact that, that they had started to boost their very own slave colonies within the New global. via the mid-eighteenth century, the English has develop into the world's pre-eminent slaving state, delivery hundreds of thousands of Africans from their homelands into the Americas, for the cloth healthiness of eu countries. but slavery, which introduced lots assorted prosperity to Britain used to be ended, in British possessions, in a comparatively short interval. within the house of 50 years first the slave exchange after which slavery itself used to be abolished via Parliament. This booklet seeks to discover that strategy through learning abolition and emancipation as a species of renowned politics. additionally one the most important aspect within the advanced political formulation which created black freedom was once black socity itself - in Britain and the West Indies. however the wider transformation, from slavery to black freedom, happened within the making a choice on context of a altering British economic system; of the emergence of the British business revolution. therefore this booklet seeks to inform the tale of the way a society which was once, right away, pleased with its inner liberties and but a slaving state, got here to bestow related freedoms on its slaves."

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Extra resources for England, Slaves and Freedom, 1776–1838

Sample text

In 1680 for example certain 'Gentlemen of Barbados' declared 'that the conversion of their slaves to Christianity would not only destroy their property but endanger the island, insomuch as converted slaves grow more perverse and intractable than others, and hence of less value for labour or sale' . 16 Until the late eighteenth century, however, British planters had few problems since British churches made only feeble attempts to convert the slaves. As late as 1788 the Barbados slave system, described to Parliament, had no place for religion among the slaves: 'I do not know that there is any religious ceremony in the Marriage of Negro slaves in Barbados.

Apparently many of these slaves imagined their bondage to have lapsed; to have been transmuted into free domestic work. An example of the shock of rediscovering their bondage can be seen in Equiano's autobiography. 45 After working faithfully for some years Equiano found himself sold by his English master to the captain of a ship bound for the West Indies. Furthermore there are frequent instances of both free and enslaved blacks being exported in this way. It was opposition to this particularly crude and obvious violation of English liberties which first agitated English humanitarians and proved to be the genesis of effective English political abolitionism.

Blacks found their own distinctive communities in a number of other slaving ports, in France as well as England. Indeed, in precisely these same years, the French had a parallel debate about black settlement in the major French slaving ports. In 1777 a prohibition on further black settlement in France declared: 46 Black Society in England 47 The Negroes are multiplying every day in France. They marry Europeans, the houses of prostitutes are infected by them; the colours mix, the blood is changing ...

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