Slavery was abolished in 1722 in England and by 1807 the slave trade had ended. In 1834 all slavery throughout the British colonies was eradicated. However, was this intentional or was it no longer financially viable? Initially as there were no slaves in Britain there was a high demand which meant the slave owners could charge vast amounts for a slave and it was very profitable. However, in the following generations the demand for slaves grew less as previous generations of slaves started their own families hence producing further slaves.
Due to lower demands, Britain was no longer able to sell many slaves thus making the trade less profitable. In 1831, a rebellion had broken out in Jamaica, led by Samuel Sharpe. This resulted in many deaths of the white slave owners which freed the slaves. Thus Britain found it harder to source slaves. During the mid 1800’s, the common people in Britain started to learn of the horrific ordeals for slaves. Mass meetings became for common in churches. At these meetings people were educated on the horrors of slavery.
Petitions were also organised to stop the practice of slavery. Slave owners were now becoming under pressure. In 1806, Britain was at war against France in the Napoleonic Wars. During the war, Britain banned all the sales of slaves in foreign countries. However, this reduced the profitability of the slave trade. Even the middle and upper classes had become aware of the horrific stories of the slave trade. In protest, Queen Charlotte and her daughters decided to boycott the sugar in their tea, which was produced by the slaves.
As the British colonies diversified into growing other crops such as sugar beet, which did not require the use of slaves, the demand for slaves was diminished further. Passive resistance from the slaves was becoming a major problem which was resulting in an unproductive work force. This resulted in plantations less cost effective and less profitable. As these rebellions were making the plantations less profitable there was serious economic damage which meant the cost of keeping slaves was becoming increasingly expensive.
Damning accounts of slaves, such as those written by Equiano and Prince, revealed the true human cost of the slave trade. These accounts were read by people back in Britain, who started to learn of the horrific slave trade practices. In conclusion, although there is overwhelming evidence to support the point that slavery was abolished for financial reasons, there were other key factors which contributed to its abolishment. These factors include the British people becoming educated in the horrific human cost, rebellions by the slaves resulting in unprofitable plantations and the death of many white slave owners.