Although slavery continues to exist in modern times with many nations continuing to force their minority populations into forced labor camps, while sending their children into sex trade rings, when slavery in general is discussed it usually refers to Chattel slavery that existed in the Americas and Europe starting in the 15th century.
HOW DID CHATTEL SLAVERY END?
In a time when even the Jesuits were building sugar mills in Brazil on the backs of free African slave labor, the beginning of the 17th century continued to usher in a strong and powerful slave trade that did not look like it was ever going to come to an end.
1. Religious Leaders and the Early Opposition to Slavery
- Prior to the close of the 17th century, a number of Quakers began writing letters expressing their opposition and logical doubts towards the institution of slavery, despite King Charles II of England establishing the first English state-sponsored slave trading company.
- The Quakers began to demand that people who owned slaves while calling themselves Christian needed to treat their slaves in a Christian manner.
- Puritans began preaching a very similar antislavery message that the Quakers began discussing twenty years prior.
- It was, however, in 1676 that Quaker Alice Curwen denounced slavery unambiguously and became the first Quaker to do so.
- In 1688 German Mennonites denounce slavery, and they do it in Germantown Pennsylvania, making it the first time people from the British American Colonies denounced slavery.
2. Early Abolitionists
- Thomas Paine’s 1775 published articles entitled “African Slavery in America,” became one of the earliest and strongest documents advocating the abolition of chattel slavery in the American Colonies.
- Ignatius Sancho, born in 1729, was known as the African Man of Letters who wrote a large number of letters that were published in 1782 and sparked doubt into the idea that Africans were lesser men of intelligence than whites.
- Olaudah Equiano was an African slave that was later freed in England that wrote a best-selling book in 1789 that ignited the anti-slavery cause a great deal more.
- In 1807 the British Parliament votes to abolish the African slave trade throughout its colonies.
- In 1862 the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
- Three months later, in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation takes force.
- In 1865 the United States Congress ratifies the Thirteenth amendment to the Constitution that states that: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Abolishing slavery based on race but still providing a loop hole for slavery or involuntary servitude where it is provided as a punishment for crime where one is convicted.
- As a global initiative, in 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed Article 4 which clearly states that:
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.