From slavery to indenture: scripts for slavery's endings

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This chapter examines arguments about the transition from slavery in the period c.1790 and 1833 in relation to three main themes. First, the discourses of political economy combined an economic critique of mercantilism and a moral argument. It was the conjunction of these elements which energised much of the early abolitionist movement. Second, the Abolition Act of 1807 acted as a conduit funnelling rescued Africans to the Caribbean as indentured servants or to bolster the British West Indian forces against the French. The Act inaugurated the policy of ‘apprenticeship’ that came to pass for ‘emancipation’ after 1833. Moreover, it was partly abolitionist ideas which were responsible for apprenticeship. Third, the many arguments about emancipation are to be heard in the Royal Commission of 1821 investigating the conditions of Caribbean indentured servants. The Commission showed the many-sided character of the debates about what regimes of labour should succeed slavery.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmancipation and the remaking of the British Imperial world
EditorsCatherine Hall, Nicholas Draper, Keith McClelland
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780719091834
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2014

Publication series

NameUCL/Neale Series on British History
PublisherManchester University Press


  • Slavery
  • Indenture
  • Re-captured Africans
  • British Empire
  • Emancipation
  • Caribbean
  • political economy
  • Imperialism
  • Slave trade

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