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The History of Abolition: A Global Interplay of Events

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  1. Introduction
  2. Exposing the roots of the 19th century European context
  3. The debate regarding Britain's reasons for abolishing slavery
  4. The Arab world: No stranger to the concept of slavery
  5. Abolitionist movements in European states
  6. The Arab world: The concept of emancipation
  7. The 'material' side of the debate
  8. The moral and economic arguments in favor of the abolishment of slavery
  9. David Turley's analysis of Abolitionist propaganda points
  10. Conclusion
  11. Works cited

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, despite Eric Williams' assertions, many modern scholars' research suggest that economic self-interest and the abolition of slavery were two incompatible concepts and if economic motivations were indeed at the heart of the Abolitionist movement, then the calculations the latter were based on were largely flawed. The argument has also been criticized for containing inconsistencies. Most British abolitionist, in fact, consistently tried to downplay the importance of moral imperatives when promoting the abolitionist cause (Ray p. 412). In 1806, the Abolitionists won one of their first battles by using political pragmatism and purposefully concealing humanitarian motives? in order to pressure the British government to outlaw slave trade (Davis p. [...]

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