The British government began the abolition of slave trade during the years, 1822-1826. This was
because of pressure by various groups based on different factors.
The Reasons for the Abolition of Slave Trade.
Rise of humanitarians in Europe such as Christians and scholars condemned it on moral
grounds. The missionaries wanted it to be stopped because they wanted good conditions for the
spread of Christianity.
The formation of humanitarian movement in England aimed at stopping all kinds of cruelty
including slave trade, flogging of soldiers and child labour.
Industrialisation in Britain, e.g. Britain industrialists urged its abolition because they wanted
Africans to be left in Africa so that Africa can be source of raw materials for their industries,
market for European manufactured goods and place for new investment of surplus capital
Formation of the anti slavery movement and the abolitionist movement in 1787, its chairman was
Granville Sharp and others like Thomas Clarkson, William Wilberforce who gathered facts and
stories about the brutality of slave trade and slavery to arouse public opinion in Britain.
Religious revival in Europe, Anglican preached and condemned slave trade as opposed to laws
of God and humanity. Catholic pope also protested against the trade and prohibited it. In 1774,
many religious leaders served as examples when they liberated their slaves in England.
The French revolution of 1789 and the American revolution of 1776, emphasised liberty,
equality and fraternity (brotherhood) of all human beings, as a result people began to question
whether anyone had a right to deprive a fellow man of his liberty when he had done wrong.
The British desire to protect their national interests: British planters wanted slave trade
stopped to avoid competition with other European planters. This is because other planters were
producing cheaper sugar hence the need to stop over production
The rise of men with new ideas: Prof. Adam Smith (challenged the economic arguments which
were the basis of slave trade when he argued convincingly that hired labour is cheaper and more
productive than slave labour, Rousseau spread the idea of personal liberty and equality of all
Slaves had become less profitable:
Slaves had become less profitable: Yethad led to overpopulation in Europe. Influential
abolitionists like William Wilberforce (a British member of parliaments) urged the British
government to legislate against the slave trade in her colonies.
The ship owners stopped transporting slaves from Africa and began raw materials directly
from Africa and America to Europe, which led to a decline in slave trade.
The Tactics Used During the Abolition of Slave Trade.
The movement to abolish slave trade started in Britain with the formation of anti-slavery
movements. The British government abolished slave trade through anti slave laws (legislation),
treaties and use of force.
The anti slavery movement was led by Granville Sharp, other members were Thomas Clarkson,
William Wilberforce and others.
- The first step was taken in 1772 when slavery was declared illegal and abolished in
Britain. The humanitarians secured judgment against slavery from the British court.
- In 1807, British parliament outlawed slave trade for British subjects.
- In 1817 British negotiated the “the reciprocal search treaties” with Spain and Portugal.
- Equipment treaties signed with Spain 1835, Portugal 1842 and America 1862. In east
Africa in 1822 Mores by treaty was signed between captain Moresby and sultan Seyyid Said it
forbade the shipping of slaves outside the sultan’s territories. British sips were authorised to stop
and search suspected Arabs slave carrying dhows.
- In 1845, Hamerton treaty was signed between Colonel Hamerton and sultan Seyyid Said.
It forbade the shipping of slaves outside the sultan’s East Africa territories i.e. beyond to the
- In 1871, the British set up the parliamentary commission of inquiry to investigate and
report on slave trade in East Africa.
- In 1872, sir. Bartle Frere persuaded sultan Barghash to stop slave trade but not much was
- On 5th march 1873, the sultan passed a decree prohibiting the export of slaves from
mainland and closed of slave market at Zanzibar. Zanzibar slave market was to be closed within
- In 1876, sultan decreed that no slaves were to be transported overland.
- In 1897, decree left slaves to claim their freedom themselves
- In 1907, slavery was abolished entirely in Zanzibar and Pemba.
- In 1927, slavery ended in Tanganyika w hen British took over from Germany after the
Second World War.