The Trans Atlantic slave trade refers to that type of trade that involve three continents America, Africa and Europe.

In this trading system, Africa was the source of cheap labour in the form of slaves, America was the source of raw materials and Europe was the source of manufactured goods.

The main participants were Britain, France, Holland and Portugal. The British were the ones who benefited so much from this trade since the 17 th C, took the lead in the abolition of slave trade in the first half of the 19 th C.

The British took various steps to abolish slave trade consequently in 1807, Britain passed a bill making slave trade illegal in all her colonies and in 1833; a law was passed that called for the emancipation of all slaves in the British empire.

There are various forces that compelled the British to abolish the Trans Atlantic slave trade. These factors included the following;

A Economic reasons

These were the main factors that forced the British to abolish the Trans Atlantic slave trade, they included;

1) Capitalist production

Capitalist production involves two classes of societies, which are the capitalists who control the major means of production and the workers who are employed by the capitalists. For the workers to be effectively employed, they must be free and not slaves.

2) Need for markets

Due to the industrial revolution, there was increased production of industrial products in Europe that lacked enough demand; this forced the British to abolish slave trade so that markets can be created in Africa for their manufactured goods.


3) Need for raw materials

Due to the industrial revolution, there was increased demand for raw materials in Britain. The existing raw materials were limited to supply due to the mushrooming of industries. This situation necessitated the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade so that Africans can produce the needed raw materials.

4) The use of machines

The industrial revolution was characterized by the use of machines in the production process, these machines replaced human labour. The owners of the machines campaigned for the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade because slave labour had become redundant.

5) French and British competition over sugar production.

For so long period, the British had a monopoly on sugar in the European market. The sugar was produced by slave labour in the British West Indies. The British was selling their sugar at very high prices thus making huge profits.

However by the end of the 18 th C, the French West Indies and re union islands were producing sugar in large quantities and selling at a cheaper price thus making more profits than the British. This situation made slave labour in British West Indies useless thus forcing the British to abolish the Trans Atlantic slave trade.


B Religious reasons

The religious bodies contributed to the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade in Africa. They argued that slave trade was against the will of God because he had created all people equal but slave trade was treating Africans as an inferior class. The Christians denounced slave trade in the name of God and argued that it must be abolished.

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C French revolution of 1789

The French revolution of 1789 had a role to play in the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade. The slogan of the revolution was fraternity, liberty and equality. Philosophers such as Rousseau campaigned for the abolition of slave trade. These philosophers claimed that slave trade was against the ideals of the French revolution thus it had to be stopped.

D Humanitarian movements

The humanitarians such as Granville sharp and Thomas Clarkson played a certain role in the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade. These people argued that slave trade had caused a lot of suffering to the people thus it had to be abolished. These efforts were followed by British declarations of 1807 and 1833 which abolished slave trade and slavery.

Effects of the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade

Explain The Reasons For The Abolition Of Slave Trade The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade The Abolition Of The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade

a Foundation of sierra Leone and Liberia.

These areas were established by the Europeans powers as settlements for the freed slaves. They received freed slaves from America. It should be noted that the Trans Atlantic slave trade uprooted millions of Africans who were supposed to offer labour in America.

b Introduction of legitimate trade.

There was introduction of legitimate trade that involved the buying and selling of natural resources, Example palm oil and cocoa. The colonial powers introduced legitimate trade so that it can facilitate the acquisition of raw materials and markets which were crucial in Europe after the industrial revolution.

c Exploitation of hinterland.

Before the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade, the colonial powers operated along the coast of West Africa searching for slaves, but after the abolition of slave trade they penetrated the interior searching for raw materials and market where they can sell their manufactured goods.


d Increased spread of Christianity.

The European powers increased the spread of Christianity after the abolition of slave trade. Christianity was a way of compensating for the ills committed by slave trade. This religion was also spread to counter the spread of Islam in West Africa.

e Increased provision of social services.

The colonial powers increased the provision of social services especially education. The main aim of colonial education was to train Africans to become better producers of raw materials that were needed in Europe. Colonial education was also supposed to change the mentality of Africans to prefer European goods thus created a ready market for them.

f Improvement of the agricultural sector.

The colonial powers improved the agricultural sector by introducing better methods of farming to increase the production of raw materials. It should be noted that the colonialists discouraged the production of food crops in Africa.

g Linguistic studies.

The colonial powers studied native languages so that they can be able to translate the Bible into local languages. This move was to convert many Africans to Christianity. The languages that were studied by the imperialist were Hausa and Fulani.



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