Principles and Agents

The British Slave Trade and Its Abolition

David Richardson

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A new history of the abolition of the British slave trade

Parliament’s decision in 1807 to outlaw British slaving was a key moment in modern world history. In this magisterial work, historian David Richardson challenges claims that this event was largely due to the actions of particular individuals and emphasizes instead that abolition of the British slave trade relied on the power of ordinary people to change the world. British slaving and opposition to it grew in parallel through the 1760s and then increasingly came into conflict both in the public imagination and in political discourse. Looking at the ideological tensions between Britons’ sense of themselves as free people and their willingness to enslave Africans abroad, Richardson shows that from the 1770s those simmering tensions became politicized even as British slaving activities reached unprecedented levels, mobilizing public opinion to coerce Parliament to confront and begin to resolve the issue between 1788 and 1807.

David Richardson is the former director of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, and professor of economic history, University of Hull, England. He is the author of numerous books and articles.

“Easily the most scholarly, clear and persuasive analysis yet published of the rise to dominance of the British in the Atlantic slave trade—as well as the implementation of abolition when that dominance was at its peak.”—David Eltis, co-author of Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

"David Richardson's meticulous exploration of the rise and fall of the British slave trade offers a brilliant synthesis of the history and historiography of a pivotal development in world history."—Seymour Drescher, author of Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery

“The most important recent single volume study of the slave trade, this is a book that commands attention. Richardson confronts a topic of great historical importance. It is a study conceived and executed with an intellectual verve and confidence.”—James Walvin, University of York

“An important and timely book that will appeal to the general reader interested in the history of the British slave trade and the abolition movement.”—Bronwen Everill, University of Cambridge
ISBN: 9780300250435
Publication Date: January 4, 2022
384 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 b/w illus.
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David Eltis and David Richardson; Foreword by David Brion D

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Essays on the New Transatlantic Slave Trade Database

Edited by David Eltis and David Richardson

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The David Brion Davis Series
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From Classical Times to the Modern Age

Edited by Christopher Leslie Brown and Philip D. Morgan

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The Chattel Principle

Internal Slave Trades in the Americas

Edited by Walter Johnson; Foreword by David Brion Davis

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Edited by Kathryn Kish Sklar and James Brewer Stewart

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Edited by James Brewer Stewart

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