Abolition of the slave trade

Tomorrow the 23rd August is the UNESCO International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.


I thought I would have a quick look at Hansard to see what was being said about the abolition of the slave trade and the following is an extract from 16th March 1807.

“Mr Secretary Windham remarked, that although the overseers of plantations made use of the whip, that did not prove that the negroes were treated with cruelty; but, alter all, it was not the intention of the house to abolish slavery, but the slave trade. Therefore, when the anti-abolitionists spoke of the miserable condition of the slaves, they were arguing against themselves, inasmuch as it was no part of the present bill to abolish slavery in the West Indies. Slavery was as ancient as the days of Homer, who said, take from a man his liberty, and you take from him his virtue. Still slavery was a degrading situation for man, and it was to be wished that it could be abolished.”…The right hon. secretary proceeded to observe, that on such a question, the house ought not to go upon abstract principles of right, but upon the consideration of the consequences of the measure, and the possible ruin of the British empire resulting from it.

To read the whole debate it can be found in House of Commons Hansard 1807 vol 9. placed at GHC.5 or see the electronic version online, if you are a registered reader, in our licensed digital resources.