What was the most important reason for the abolition of the slave Trade?
By the time that the slave trade had been abolished in Britain and her colonies in 1807 eleven million men, women and children had been snatched from their homes. For historians understanding the factors that led to the abolition of the trade remains an important task. Whilst there is clearly a consensus on the main factors that led to this seismic and historic event there is obviously a difference in opinion on the most important due to the degree of subjectivity the question poses.
The key factors that caused the abolition were the work of the working class, both their moral views as well as petitions; Economic factors; the work of black people and the middle class. The evidence I have seen has led me to firmly and fervently believe that Economic factors played the most important role.
Money makes the world go round and in the latter stage of the 18th century slavery was not making enough of it. Due to a rise in cheap sugar, a result of increased production in Central America, demand for West Indian sugar fell. As plantations closed, demand fell. Whilst in 1771 2728 slaves were imported into Barbados, a year later none were. Slavery became less profitable and in many cases the slaves themselves went from an asset to a liability. Furthermore, an increase in slave rebellion and revolts led to increased expenses.
This epiphany caused the plantation owners to realize the benefit of employing former slaves. This was not due to them having a moral realization or hearing the terrible accounts of slaves, not even the cries of the British working class back home. It was simply due to the fact that it was far more profitable to employ people whose wellbeing was not their responsibility. The economist, Adam Smith, in his book “The Wealth of the Nation” wrote that ‘the work of free men comes cheaper in the end than performed by slaves.’ This is because Slavery makes the slaves a...
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