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Was Abolition Of The American And British Slave Trade Significant In The Broader Atlantic Context?

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Chapter Summary

In the English speaking Atlantic World, the slave trade and its abolition received more attention in 2007, both from historians and from the general public, than in all the preceding ten or fifteen years together. Recent books on the slave trade have focused on the contribution of the slaves themselves to ending the trade, or on class differences in attitudes toward the slave trade. The traffic in slaves was after all, the most "international" of all business activities, and the American and British acts extended only to United States and British territory and their citizens. The effect for Africa was a fundamental shift South in the "center of gravity" of slave trading after 1780. An interpretation that focuses on the shifts in moral values across the Atlantic world moves away from one that puts British activism at center stage.

Keywords: American slave trade; Atlantic World; British abolition; British slave trade; United States

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