Why Slavery Was Abolished in the West Indies

1966 Words8 Pages

This topic was selected to widen the researchers understanding of the real reason slavery was abolished in the British West Indies as well as why sources have differing opinions.

The ‘Decline Thesis’ is of great importance as it outlines the various factors that could have led to the abolition of slavery. Overall, it also shows that economic factors played a greater role in the abolition process.

Thesis Statement

Economic factors rather than legislation, led to the abolition of the British Caribbean Slave Trade in 1807.


The precipitating factors of emancipation have been debated for centuries by numerous scholars. Historians Barbara Solow, Selwyn Carrington and Eric Williams believed deteriorating economic conditions were to be blamed for the decline. On the other hand Robert Thomas, Seymour Drescher and Stanley Engerman postulated that humanitarian efforts and the legislative acts which abolished the Trans- Atlantic trade in 1807 and emancipated the enslaved in 1833 were to be credited.

However, based on the statistics of plantation records and colonial office papers corroborating Williams’ thesis, one can argue that it was the dwindling West Indian Sugar economy which fostered the granting of emancipation.

Research Questions

1. What is the decline thesis?

2. Was the American Revolution the beginning of the West Indian economy’s “uninterrupted decline”?

3. Did the profitability of the region decline?

4. Had Eric Williams mistaken “causes” for “effects?”

5. Did economic factors lead to the abolition of the slave trade in 1807?


Several factors had led to emancipation, which is to be blamed for having the utmost impact is yet to be set...

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...ian colonies had become an economic burden and ceased to yield revenue for Britain. It is evident therefore that these conditions had forced Britain to eradicate the slave trade in 1807 and grant emancipation in 1833.


Browne, David V. C., and Henderson Carter. Atlantic Interactions. Kingston, Jamaica: I. Randle, 2008. Print.

Clarke, Duncan. Slaves & Slavery. London: Grange, 1999. Print.

Drescher, Seymour. Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1977. Print.

Murray, R. N. Nelson's West Indian History. London: Nelson, 1971. Print.

Williams, Eric Eustace. Capitalism & Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1994. Print.

Robinson, Cedric J. Capitalism, Slavery and Bourgeois Histography. History Workshop Journal. 23.1 (1987). Print.

Lowell ragatza

Clr james

Frederick douglass

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