10 Historical Facts on Slavery

Martinique, Le Prêcheur, Hands, Freedom

During his trip to Jamaica, David Cameron was asked to provide an apology on behalf of the British for their role in the slave trade. For those who have a view on that naturally emotive subject, you might get some or all of these facts helpful in deepening your understanding. I found they made a difference to mine. None of these or some other facts in any way justify or mitigate the evil of slavery, present or past.

  1. Slavery was not introduced to Africa by Europeans. It existed there before the first explorers and traders went there.


  1. The British sent white British prisoners to work as slaves on the plantations in the Caribbean. They were the losers after the Battle of Worcester in the Civil War, The Batle of Sedgemoor in Monmouth’s Rebellion from James II and Jacobites in the 1715 Rebellion.
  2. Slavery was held to be illegal in Britain since it violated the principles of Magna Carta etc. but was considered acceptable in British Overseas Possessions.


  1. Other European nations did so at different dates throughout the Nineteenth Century. Many Asian and Middle Eastern countries postponed its abolition until the Twentieth Century. In Saudi Arabia’s case it was 1974.
  2. Compensation was paid to British slave owners as the Government, and most other people, felt it could not deprive people of the”property” without doing so.
  3. In the British Empire the Government needed to use force to suppress slavery, since the abolition was not popular with native slave-traders in several areas.
  4. In Jamaica there are some black and mixed-race men and women who are descended from free people. There was a short period when the island was abandoned by the Spanish before the British came. Their kids were therefore never slaves.
  5. Slavery still exists in many places. In Britain it is the domain name of people-traffickers. In the Middle East it is thought to go on illegally in many countries but is practiced in regions controlled by ISIS. The victims are usually members of minorities.

Personally, I wish the campaigners would focus on freeing current slaves as opposed to keeping old wounds alive, given the complexity of the story and the difficulty in apportioning blame or credit.

After studying Economics and Accountancy at Bristol University, John worked in accountancy, audit and insurance in several types of local authority. He is currently self-employed as JHM Risk Management Services, offering risk management and liability claims-handling services to companies and other businesses, to enable owners and managers to save time and stress in addition to money.

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