Sunday, March 25, 2007

The 1807 British Slave Trade Act

It was 200 years ago today— March 25, 1807— that the British Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act, which abolished the slave trade in the British Empire.

In fact this act didn't entirely extirpate the slave trade overnight; but it did outlaw and prohibit it, and it was definitely the beginning of the end.

I confess to some family pride in this matter, since my own great-great-great-grandfather was one of the members of Parliament who led the move to pass this act.


Blogger The Tetrast said...

He was one seminal dude!

Monday, March 26, 2007 7:37:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Yes, in more ways than one. ;-)

He was also a motive force behind the 1833 Parliamentary act which abolished slavery in the British Empire. Thus I like to say that my great-great-great-grandfather did more to abolish slavery in the world than Abraham Lincoln. Though I suspect neither that, nor the entirely Yankee status of my ancestors here in the States, will spare me from having to pay reparations if and when that day comes.

And he was also the one that Earl Grey tea was named after— the distinction for which he seems to be best known in these latter days.

Moreover my great-great-great-grandfather was more or less the Bill Clinton of his time. My great-great-grandfather was one of his offspring on the wrong side of the blanket. Thus this bar-sinister branch of the family tree eventually removed to America, when my great-great-grandfather jumped ship in Virginia, changed his name from Thomas Chamberlain (his mother's surname) to Thomas Burgess, fled up the East Coast to Rochester NY, and met a 15-year-old girl with whom he eloped to what was then the Wisconsin Territory. There they farmed, raised horses, and had 16 children.

Monday, March 26, 2007 9:03:00 PM  

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