Historical phenomena such as the abolition of slavery cannot be explained by isolating them from the larger global context that created the conditions for their existence. In his chapter titled Whose Abolition? Popular Pressure and the Ending of the British Slave Trade, Seymor Drescher states: "The principal issues now revolve around the causal weight to be ascribed to different long-term and short-term variables, and the significance of countervailing tensions and ecological constraints on actors, timing and outcome" (p. 137). Thus, following Drescher's example, examining the causal relationships between various variables and drawing parallels between different ancient and modern societies' views on the role of slavery, its spread and eventual demise, as well the relationship between European economic, political and social changes, is the optimal starting point in understanding the European, and most notably the British, anti-slavery context and the reasons that brought about it. History is a continuum, comprised of actions and reactions and the abolishment of slavery is the result of one such global interplay of events.
key words- slavery, 19th century, Olatunji Ojo , slave-trade relations, africa, abolitionist movements , British Abolitionism , Islamic and Judea-Christian traditions, nondiscriminatory nature.
[...] In fact, the developments that took place in other regions of the globe were closely related to Britain's decision- making process regarding the abolishment of slave trade and subsequently of slavery as a whole. To begin exposing the roots of the 19th century European context, it is important to understand the origins of slavery as a practice and an institution. During his in-class lecture delivered on March 5th Professor Olatunji Ojo emphasized the important role slaves played in world history. [...]
[...] Islam and slavery through the ages: Slave sultans and slave mujahids. Journal of Islamic Law and Culture pp. 97-123. Davis, D. B. (2006). Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (Vol. 1). New York: Oxford University Press. Drescher, S. (1994). Whose Abolition? Popular Pressure and the Ending of the British Slave Trade. Past and Present, No pp. 136-166. Miers, S., & Roberts, R. (1988). The end of slavery in Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Ojo, O. [...]
[...] Thus, according to Williams, slavery's demise was brought about by the transition from a mercantile to a capitalist mode of production and free trade. William's economic determinism is one that Davis defines as being in opposition with the more sentimental, morality-driven viewpoint (Davis p. 241). Williams' position is also supported by David Beck Ryden who criticizes scholarly analyses that ignore the importance of the economic argument in the antislavery debate by stating: “abolition did not take place while slavery was extremely profitable in the 1790s, but at a time when foreign competition and the mercantilist policy worked against the slave economy” (Ryden p. [...]
[...] But the mechanism which accomplished this development existed in miniature all along the route from Palestine to Crete to Madeira to the Canaries to Sao Tomi to Brazil and to the Caribbean” (p. 717). The same mechanism of cultural, religious and social exchange created the favorable conditions for the advent of the Abolitionist movement in Britain in the 19th century. Whether a moral, religious, economic or political decision, the abolition of slavery was in fact due to a fortunate convergence of several variables and can indeed be considered among the three or four perfectly virtuous acts recorded in the history of nations” (in Davis p. 249). [...]
[...] Both groups, influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, believed that the abolishment of slavery “would be a long step towards creating a proper moral order in the world and from that could be expected to flow greater social and political harmony” (Turley p. 17). The need for free human agency was a crucial element in both groups' anti-slavery rhetoric. According to their reasoning, humans need to be free in order to overcome life's obstacles and chose the path of God. [...]
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