Slavery and The Royal Navy

“You are to use every means in your power to prevent a continuance of the traffic in slaves.”

Commodore Sir George Ralph Collier
Listen here for the full audio.

Slavery was one of Britain’s biggest earners, and there were many opposers in the country who did not want it to end. But with the number of abolishers growing in the UK, Britain finally succumbed to the pressure.

Once Britain had passed laws to abolish slavery, steps were taken to enforce laws across the globe. Enslaved people were being transported from Africa to different parts of the world, so Britain took this fight to the seas.

Due to the enslaved people being mistreated, and overworked, their lifespans were not that long, thus increasing the demand for more slaves. As the demand increased, the traders also sensed an opportunity to make more money. 

Unfair on the traders?

The slave traders had a good thing going and were not going to give up their earnings without a fight.

In some twisted way of thinking, the traders must have felt hard done by. A few years ago, they were making money legally, travelling the world and trading (actual) people without a care in the world. Then suddenly the British have this change of heart and everyone has to suffer!

They were not about to let this international treaty stop them and continued to trade slaves across the Atlantic. The traders were so intent on continuing their ‘work’ that they were prepared to take this fight on that the British proposed on the seas. 

The British started their fight against the slave traders on their own, and started discussions with the French, Portuguese and Spanish in order to enlist their assistance. I can imagine that this was a difficult fight all on your own.

However, these countries initially had different ideas. Their countries economies also depended a lot on the slave trade. Therefore, they wanted to continue trading slaves. 

It still baffles me. The thought of making money through selling another human. It must have been so normalised back then.

It is scary to think that one’s morals could totally go out of the window when it comes to money. Such a waste of human lives, yet the traders and governments alike think of only their income. 

American Treaty

Although America always had strong ties to Britain, they did not abolish slavery at the same time and continued to traffic enslaved people. Due to the two countries’ relationship, America negotiated that the British could not intercept their slave ships.

Read that again, NOT allowed to intercept their slave ships! 

When the slave traders heard about this treaty, they became more cunning and started to sail using an American flag to avoid the British snooping onboard. They also started to carry around forged treaties and papers to brandish whenever there was an incoming abolitionist ship who was ready to intercept.

Still to this day there are traffickers of people, yet this doesn’t get much airtime on the news. To have such little regard for someone else’s life that you wish to trade them for money. It really does make you wonder the state of mind of these human traffickers.

What are your thoughts on the transatlantic slave trade and the Royal Navy stepping in to battle them?

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