The Abolition of English Slavery

slaveUntil its abolition in the 19th century slavery was a grotesque yet primary part of not only western civilization but also the entire world. It wasn’t until 1833 when England realized the moral and economical disadvantages that came with slavery that they final abolished it all together. This monumental step in western civilization sparked a movement throughout the entire world to abolish slavery. However, an action so towering as this one had to be brought about by years of opposition to the slave trade. It was the hard work of people like the Levelers, the Quakers, John Locke, and William Wilberforce. Although the Levelers and the Quakers did contribute the major factors were Locke and Wilberforce.

John Locke no numbersJohn Locke pressed the issue of human rights. In Chapter four of his Second Treatise on Civil Government Locke writes,

The •natural liberty of man is

to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of men but to be ruled only by the law of nature.

The liberty of man •in society is

to be under no legislative power except the one established by consent in the commonwealth; and not under the power of any will or under restraint from any law except what is enacted by the legislature in accordance with its mandate.

It was Clearly Locke’s opinion that every man should be subject to no one unless he makes a contract, which puts another figure in authority over him.

WWWilliam Wilberforce attacked slavery in Britten politically. The manner in which he did this is truly worth a read. Instead of trying to abolish slavery in one radical movement, Wilberforce made it his duty to in its place abolish the slave trade. If he tried to get rid of slavery altogether he was afraid his position would be to radical and his movement would be shoved away completely. Therefore, embarked on a journey that encompassed a long portion of his life. In 1807 the Slave Trade Act was passed in England abolishing the slave trade. And it wasn’t until 1833 that the Slavery Abolition Act was passed in England one year after Wilberforce’s death.


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