Aside from humanitarian considerations and the pressure from abolitionists, Parliament’s reluctant abolition rested on four considerations. Naples Map Tourist Attractions First, the government had attempted since 1823 to convince Caribbean officials and owners to ameliorate the abysmal conditions of the slaves. Government recommended the outlawing of the flogging of women, the end of using the whip in the field, religious instruction and recognized marriages for all slaves, shorter working days, better clothing and food, and compulsory manumission. Planters in the Caribbean strongly opposed these reforms, especially in Jamaica and Barbados.
But the planters lost their clout when the sugar economy began declining in the 1830s due to soil exhaustion and tumbling prices. Britain’s economic interest in the West Indies waned with the decline of the sugar economy. At the same time, the English saw value in Africa, as a provider not of slaves but of raw materials and markets for Britain’s industrial revolution. Africa provided oils and cotton, and it bought manufactured goods. Africans were more valuable as producers and consumers in Africa than in the Caribbean as underconsuming, underproducing slaves. Economic pragmatism was a significant factor in changing Britain’s long-standing policy.
There were other considerations as well, especially fear. Some in Britain believed that continuing slavery would increase the incidence of uprisings, which could result in a significant loss of property and lives. A final factor leading to abolition was politics. Electoral reform in 1832 brought to power a reform majority in Parliament. The reformers enacted partial abolition in 1834, a transition apprenticeship, and total abolition in 1838.
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