Facts on some important events prior to the passing of British Abolition of Slave Trade Act in 1807 and the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833
Euro-centric accounts often ignore the role of African freedom fighters in the struggle to end the trafficking of Africans, and enslavement. One of the first documented African revolts was in 1526 in San Miguel de Gualdape (a Spanish colony possibly in present day South Carolina)), but this accounts starts with 1720. The list of events is not exhaustive, and others are welcome to improve on it.
1720-1739 Nanny of the Maroons leads revolts in Jamaica.
1763 Kofi (Cuffy) leads a revolt in Berbice (former Dutch Caribbean colony), present day Guyana.
1768 Court discharges Jonathan Strong an enslaved African brought to London by his ‘master’.
1769 Abolitionist Granville Sharp publishes a pamphlet entitled “A representation of the injustice and dangerous tendency of tolerating slavery in England”.
1771 Granville Sharp applies for habeas corpus regarding Somersett, an enslaved African brought to Britain by his ‘master’. Somersett run away, was captured and imprisoned on a ship bound for Jamaica.
1772 Lord Mansfield rules that that slavery is “so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law.” In the absence of a positive law, Somersett is freed.
1783 The Society of Friends (Quakers) sponsor an anti-slavery petition in Parliament.
1787 Ottobah Cugoano, a former enslaved African, publishes ‘Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Commerce of the Human Species’, which stirs public opinion in England. He demands the abolition of the slave trade and the freeing of the enslaved.
1787 Quakers help form the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Founding members include Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson described as the architect of the campaign and founding father of the anti-slavery movement in Britain.
1787 British Parliamentarian William Wilberforce is persuaded to join the campaign for the abolition of the ‘slave trade.’
1789 Wilberforce makes his first Parliamentary speech against the ‘slave trade’.
1789 Abolitionist Olaudah Equiano publishes ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano’, which provides a first hand account of the horrors of enslavement and vital information to the anti-slavery movement’.
1791 Toussaint Louverture’s Haiti revolt shocks Britain which had wanted to seize Haiti. (Haiti was under French rule).
1792 Abolition bill passed by House of Commons but rejected in House of Lords.
1792 Denmark passes a law abolishing the slave trade.
1794 French National Convention abolishes slavery in all its territories (law repealed by Napoleon in 1802).
1804 Dessalines declares Haiti a free republic.
1807 Wilberforce writes in pamphlet which states that: "It would be wrong to emancipate (the slaves). To grant freedom to them immediately would be to insure not only their masters' ruin, but their own. They must (first) be trained and educated for freedom…”
1824 Robert Wedderburn, a lifelong campaigner against enslavement, whose mother was an enslaved African, publishes a book entitled ‘The Horrors of Slavery’.
1824 Elizabeth Heyrick, a key figure in the women’s Anti-Slavery Societies, publishes a pamphlet entitled ‘Immediate not Gradual Abolition’. Wilberforce opposes her.
1825 Wilberforce retires from Parliament.
1831 Sam Sharpe leads the greatest Jamaican revolt against enslavement.
1831 ‘The History of Mary Prince’ an account of the life of former enslaved African Mary Prince is published in Britain. It galvanises the anti-slavery movement.
1833 The revolts of enslaved Africans were costing the British government heavily, and this coupled with the growing industrial revolution, made enslavement less profitable. The Abolition of Slavery Act is passed in March 1833 and ‘slave owners’ are given twenty millions pounds compensation.
Compiled by Ms Serwah, http://newafricanperspective.blogspot.com/