Thursday, December 01, 2005

INFO: Abolition of Slavery

I have some American friends who seem to think that the USA has always been a leader in the area of human rights. In school, I seem to remember reading stories about how the Underground Railroad was a way to help slaves escape from the USA to countries free of slavery like Canada and Mexico.

I was curious to see exactly when each major country abolished slavery, so I made the below table to answer my curiousity.

In 1807 Britain passed an anti-slave act, followed by an 1833 Abolition of Slavery act. This of course was applied to the whole of the british empire, including Canada. According to my reading though, it seems that this was merely an official end to slavery of people of african descent. Most european empires did not believe that the countries they occupied were civilized and capable of self-government unless they had a predominant proportion of europeans like in North America. This meant that in British colonies, the colonists were always first-class citizens, and the native people of the country were second-class citizens. Though 1833 was meant to bring the end of slavery in the British empire, it is likely that some forms of slavery or extreme servantry were perpetuated for years.

Also of note, France and its colonies abolished slavery in 1794 due to the French Revolution, but it was re-established later in 1796 when Napoleon gained control.

Haiti 1791 
Spain (+colonies except Cuba) 1811 
Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela 1821 
Chile 1823 
Mexico 1829 
United Kingdom (+colonies) 1833 
Sweden 1843 
France and (+colonies) 1848 
Denmark (+colonies) 1848 
Russia 1861 
The Netherlands (+colonies) 1863 
USA 1865 
Puerto Rico 1873 
Cuba 1886 
Brazil 1888 
China 1910 

Further Reading:

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