Putting Together a Chronology of the Abolition of the International Slave Trade
I am doing this for my wife, who rather likes the film Amazing Grace, which is about William Wilberforce's efforts to abolish slavery within the British Empire. I knew that the movie played a little fast and loose with the sequence of events, but the more I dig into the documents, the more interesting this gets. I'm looking at a treaty that Britain signed with Spain in 1817 by which Spain agreed to abolish the African slave trade north of the equator immediately, and south of the equator in 1820. What was Spain's incentive? Britain gave them £400,000 as compensation both for previous losses of slave ships to the British government, and future losses.
Remember that Britain really didn't have any financial interest in ending the slave trade. The British government had abolished the international slave trade for its citizens by an Order in Council of August 15, 1805, and additional restrictions in 1806 and 1807. To give £400,000 as a bribe to the Spanish government to end the Spanish involvement in the international slave trade is a pretty astonishing act of humanitarianism.