Unspoken Era Introduction: British Empire 1700-1800

The impact of transatlantic slavery is visible all over the world, with some kingdoms expanding whilst others have compacted. Legacies live on, from positives such as campaigning for issues which are morally correct, to the negatives of racism, particularly the view of the black race being viewed as an inferior race.

The First Unspoken Era

The first unspoken era I wish to look at is Britain throughout the 17th and 18th century, Whilst many other European countries, and America also had a huge influence in the Atlantic Slave trade, Britain fascinates me the most as it went from being the most dominate slave trading nation in the early 1700’s, to becoming the first country to abolish slavery via the Slave Trade Act in 1807.

The main questions which I hope to answer is what occurred over this century which made Britain become one of the most involved nations in transatlantic slavery from Britain’s success from the situation, up until the people spoke up to have this cruel inhumane system ended. Despite this, it is clear that the UK gained large benefits from the system, whilst Africa suffered; some say that this was the moment Africa began to decline into the developing country it is now, as history shows that before the devastation of the, Africa was an advanced, rich continent, which has been robbed (That’s an era to explore for another time).

A little History about the Beginning

Many sources have indicated that beginnings of this terrible Slave Trade, resulting in chattel slavery (Whereby slaves are the property of others; slaves are bought and sold as commodities) began in Portugal, the Portuguese found Africa (I guess one day they decided to sail a little further than usual), and the Portuguese captured Africans and took them back to their country, in 1444, the first public sale of Africans occurred in Portugal, many using the black people as free labour. It is said some African nations offered some people in exchange for goods, or other valuables. One sources mentioned that in Portugal the Africans and Portuguese would work side by side, the Africans working for nothing, as slaves, whilst the Portuguese would do the same labour, but with a wage. Very unfair.

This reminds me of the modern slavery which have become great social issues of today, for instance the Asian sweat shops, one company finds cheap labour in another country miles away, and use this as an opportunity to mass produce products at a small price, however potentially costing people’s lives.

 I can only imagine the scene escalating in a similar manner, the Portuguese wanting more people, the word of Africans/ black people as free labour spreading across Europe, and other nations wanting a cut of their share in Africa, the beginning of colonies (Another era to look at in the future), and even the start of globalisation, as countries work across the seas to import and export goods. In fact the Portuguese built their first permanent slave trading post at Elmina in Ghana, which eventually passed through Dutch and English hands by the 18th century.

Conclusion

There is 400 years’ worth of history to discover (the duration of the Atlantic slave trade), and whilst many films such as roots, and authors such as Toni Morrison and Alice Walker providing a vivid image of this particular time era, however with great focus on the relationship between Africa and the United States, whilst the relationship between Africa, the Americas and the UK, are not greatly expressed (personal opinion). I hope to find information on situation with the economy, down to the differences in social classes, and hopefully try and relate the information to today’s society.

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2 thoughts on “Unspoken Era Introduction: British Empire 1700-1800

    • Hey, thanks! Every little helps. Information is not so widely available on many of these characters. I hope I can bring some of this ‘lost world’ to light.

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