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In one form or another, slavery has existed throughout the world for millennia. It helped to change the world, and the world transformed the institution. In the 1450s, when Europeans from the small corner of the globe least enmeshed in the institution first interacted with peoples of other continents, they created, in the Americas, the most dynamic, productive, and exploitative system of coerced labor in human history. Three centuries later these same intercontinental actions produced a movement that successfully challenged the institution at the peak of its dynamism. Within another century a new surge of European expansion constructed Old World empires under the banner of antislavery. However, twentieth-century Europe itself was inundated by a new system of slavery, larger and more deadly than its earlier system of New World slavery. This book examines these dramatic expansions and contractions of the institution of slavery and the impact of violence, economics, and civil society in the ebb and flow of slavery and antislavery during the last five centuries.
Received historical wisdom casts abolitionists as bourgeois, mostly white reformers burdened by racial paternalism and economic conservatism. Manisha Sinha overturns this image, broadening her scope beyond the antebellum period usually associated with abolitionism and recasting it as a radical social movement in which men and women, black and white, free and enslaved found common ground in causes ranging from feminism and utopian socialism to anti-imperialism and efforts to defend the rights of labor. Drawing on extensive archival research, including newly discovered letters and pamphlets, Sinha documents the influence of the Haitian Revolution and the centrality of slave resistance in shaping the ideology and tactics of abolition. This book is a comprehensive new history of the abolition movement in a transnational context. It illustrates how the abolitionist vision ultimately linked the slave’s cause to the struggle to redefine American democracy and human rights across the globe.
African slavery was pervasive in Spain's Atlantic empire yet remained in the margins of the imperial economy until the end of the eighteenth century when the plantation revolution in the Caribbean colonies put the slave traffic and the plantation at the center of colonial exploitation and conflict. The international group of scholars brought together in this volume explain Spain's role as a colonial pioneer in the Atlantic world and its latecomer status as a slave-trading, plantation-based empire. These contributors map the broad contours and transformations of slave-trafficking, the plantation, and antislavery in the Hispanic Atlantic while also delving into specific topics that include: the institutional and economic foundations of colonial slavery; the law and religion; the influences of the Haitian Revolution and British abolitionism; antislavery and proslavery movements in Spain; race and citizenship; and the business of the illegal slave trade.
The age of British abolitionism came into consolidated strength in 1787-88 with the first mass campaign against the slave trade and ended just half a century later in 1838 with a mass petition movement against Negro Apprenticeship. Drescher focuses on this critical fifty-year period, when the people of the Empire effectively pressured and eventually altered national policy. Presenting a major reassessment of the roots, nature, and significance of Britain's successful struggle against slavery, he illuminates a novel turn in the history of antislavery, when for the first time, the most effective agents in the abolition process were non-slave masses, including working men and women. This not only set Britain off from ancient Rome, medieval western Europe, and early modern Russia, but, in scale and duration, it distinguished Britain from its 19th-century continental European counterparts as well. Viewing British abolitionism against the backdrop of larger national and international events, this provocative study challenges readers to look anew at the politics of slavery and social change in a prominent era of British history.
The past half-century has produced a mass of information regarding slave resistance, ranging from individual acts of disobedience to massive uprisings. Many of these acts of rebellion have been studied extensively, yet the ultimate goals of the insurgents remain open for discussion. Recently, several historians have suggested that slaves achieved their own freedom by resisting slavery, which counters the predominant argument that abolitionist pressure groups, parliamentarians, and the governmental and anti-governmental armies of the various slaveholding empires were the prime movers behind emancipation. Marques, one of the leading historians of slavery and abolition, argues that, in most cases, it is impossible to establish a direct relation between slaves uprisings and the emancipation laws that would be approved in the western countries. Following this presentation, his arguments are taken up by a dozen of the most outstanding historians in this field. In a concluding chapter, Marques responds briefly to their comments and evaluates the degree to which they challenge or enhance his view.
"Focusing on slave revolts that took place in Barbados in 1816, in Demerara in 1823, and in Jamaica in 1831-32, Matthews identifies four key aspects in British abolitionist propaganda regarding Caribbean slavery: the denial that antislavery activism prompted slave revolts, the attempt to understand and recount slave uprisings from the slaves' perspectives, the portrayal of slave rebels as victims of armed suppressors and as agents of the antislavery movement, and the presentation of revolts as a rationale against the continuance of slavery. She makes use of previously overlooked publications of British abolitionists to prove that their language changed over time in response to slave uprisings.".
After Britain abolished slavery throughout most of its empire in 1834, Victorians adopted a creed of "anti-slavery" as a vital part of their national identity and sense of moral superiority to other civilizations. The British government used diplomacy, pressure, and violence to suppress the slave trade, while the Royal Navy enforced abolition worldwide and an anxious public debated the true responsibilities of an anti-slavery nation. This crusade was far from altruistic or compassionate, but Richard Huzzey argues that it forged national debates and political culture long after the famous abolitionist campaigns of William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson had faded into memory. These anti-slavery passions shaped racist and imperialist prejudices, new forms of coerced labor, and the expansion of colonial possessions. In a sweeping narrative that spans the globe, Freedom Burning explores the intersection of philanthropic, imperial, and economic interests that underlay Britain's anti-slavery zeal- from London to Liberia, the Sudan to South Africa, Canada to the Caribbean, and the British East India Company to the Confederate States of America. Through careful attention to popular culture, official records, and private papers, Huzzey rewrites the history of the British Empire and a century-long effort to end the global trade in human lives.