Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies

(1833)

The year 1833 was a watershed in the history of humankind owing to the passage of the far-reaching Slavery Abolition Act by the British parliament, a decree that abolished slavery throughout the British Empire. Great Britain was the world's foremost superpower at that time, a nation of great international authority with a history of slave trading and keeping, and the Slavery Abolition Act was the first legal ruling by a national government to ban slavery within its colonies. It therefore set a precedent for all other imperialistic countries to follow, setting forth into law the concept that freedom is a natural right of all human beings.

Although it was not the first rule banning slavery within the British colonial context—as such a law was passed in the British colony of Upper Canada in 1793—the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was a major political turning point in British and global history that arose as a result of a lengthy process of protest and legal progress. The...

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William Wilberforce (Library of Congress)

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