When primates and homonoids started living on this planet, they worked, hunted, ate, and killed together but not each other. With colonial rules and power to the elites came the sinful slavery. It was a wickedness committed by mighty kings and vicious pharaohs throughout in the history. The world is aware of the brutalities that slaves have suffered and the kings have committed. But with the world entering the modern age, starting around 18th century, there was a rage to abolish slavery all around the world and the triumphs of the people responsible for this have made all hearts melt and restore trust in mankind. Many countries, either by pressure or by rule abolished slavery or trade of slaves and turned out to be superpowers in the modern age. So, I bring you a glimpse from our history of post tenebras lux: a list of top 10 countries that changed the world with their history of slavery abolishment.
As part of the Atlantic Slave Trade from 15th to 19th century, about a million African slaves were brought to Cuba. The sugar plantations were a huge market then. After the Haitian war in Cuba, rich slave owners wanted to make profit in the new sugar market as Haiti backed out to concentrate on their personal affairs. This increased the importation of slaves until on October 1886, the royal decree banned slavery in Cuba. Though slavery trade was practiced till 1867, Cubans imported 10,000 Chinese workers for the plantation and they were treated not in any better way. The European Cubans were outnumbered by the large slave population and 60 % of the descendants of Cuba have African heritage due to this racial mixing.
Portugal played a key figure in the Atlantic Slave Trade, transporting millions of Africans and people from other parts of the world to the American continent. Around the 1700s, Portugal stopped the transportation of non-African slaves, like the Chinese who were considered their Jewel Slaves, Japanese, Indians and Europeans by then royal decree of Portugal. However, it was in 1761 when all sorts of slavery and slave trade were banned by Marquis of Pombail and the Atlantic Slave Trade was outlawed finally in 1836.
Slavery in Brazil started even before the Portuguese started settling in there. The local tribes when conflicted captured and enslaved each other. The colonists then needed indigenous people as labor during the initial stage of their settlement. Natives often taken by trips called bandeiras, coining in São Paulo. By the 16th century, Africans were enslaved on a regular basis, making Brazil the country to have imported African slaves than any other country during the Atlantic Slave trade era estimated about 4.9 million slaves from Africa. By 1872, 15 % of Brazil’s population included slaves. On May 13, 1888, the golden act or the Lei Áurea was circulated by Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil and finally ended slavery in Brazil and it became the last nation in the western world to abolish slavery.
The mention of slavery or practices similar to it dates back to ancient times in India. However, from 10th to 18th century, during the Islamic rule, the colonial slavery had a hike. Many prisoners under this rule were captured, tortured and sold in Central-Asian market. After the colonials arrived in India, slavery increased even more as the natives were in high demand for the plantation jobs in South America and the Caribbean and also for the Arabian and European markets under the East India Company. It was in 1883 because of the Slavery Abolition Act, slavery from British colonies was abolished and hence slaves in India and slaves imported for colonial markets by the EIC were freed.
Slaves in the main Dutch slave colony Surinam escaped from time to time. The ones captured were severely punished and the ones who stayed loyal were awarded. On 1st July 1863, slavery was officially banned in Suriman. However, the plantation owners wanted the slaves to work for next 10 years on contract basis. The government laying on the side of the owners rather than the slaves, offered 300 guilders to every owner for every slave they freed.
Slavery in Spain came with the Greeks and Romans. In the 1440s, Portuguese rulers started bringing in African slaves in Seville, Spain. Slaves were auctioned at cathedrals and transported to different cities and by the 16th century, about 7.5% of the population of Seville was slaves. Many of the slaves from Moore and other non-Christian background were forced to convert themselves to Christians. The new laws act was set in 1542 abolishing slavery of North Americans in Spain. But it was in 1811, when all sorts of slavery were abolished in Spain, though it was around in 1818 when slavery in other Spanish colonies completely ended.
04. South Africa
Slavery existed in South Africa first within the Dutch rule. A refreshment station was used to import slaves from Africa, which is now Cape Town. The first slave came in 1653, Abraham van Batavia arrived in 1653 (“van Batavia” meaning “from Batavia”, the name of Jakarta during the Dutch colonial period), and shortly after a slaving voyage was undertaken from the Cape to Mauritius and Madagascar. Under the British rule starting from 1795, slave trade act was passed in 1803, then implemented in 1808 and only internal slave trading was allowed. In 1883, with the effect of the slave abolition act for all British colonies, Slavery ended in South Africa as well.
Slavery in France was considered most brutal during the Atlantic Slave Trade. It turned 4 times as many Africans into slaves than Americans did and treated them like animals, specially the sugar plantation slaves. On February 4, 1794, the National Convention finally voted on ending slavery in all the French colonies. But this act lasted only for 10 years as when Napoleon came to rule France in 1804, slavery came into play again. Finally, in 1848 all slaves in France and its colonies were set free.
British merchants were among the top players in the Atlantic slave trade. West Africans were transported to the new world and sold into slave labor via ships. These hips also brought commodities back to Britain and then exported the goods to Africa. The battle for freedom of slaves was a long struggle in Britain. It was led by William Wilberforce and the slave trade act in 1807 was passed by the parliament. But it was finally in 1833, when the slavery abolition act was implemented. Britain used this rule to influence other colonies and countries to abolish slavery and sign treaties between countries to end slave trade.
Slavery in the United States was the legal organization of human chattel slavery that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries after it gained independence from the British Empire and even before the civil war ended. It was practiced in British North America and played a big part in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Even after the declaration of independence in 1776, the thirteen colonies recognized the act of slavery. President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, issued The Emancipation Proclamation which in just one stroke changed the designation of 3 million slaves from “slave” to “free”. The slaves, who managed to escape from their owners and the confederate government, were literally free. From January 1, 1863 to march 31, 1877, during the reconstruction era, federal troops were posted in south to prevent Africans from being enslaved again.