Delaying the abolition

West Indies lobby

From 1788-1792, the pro-slavery West Indies lobby organised a fight back against the abolitionists.

They monitored abolitionist activities in newspapers and magazines and employed writers of their own to respond by circulating pro-slavery letters and articles in the same newspapers.

The video below looks at establishment opposition to the abolitionist movement.

The Effects of the French Revolution

In 1793 Britain became involved in the French Revolutionary Wars. This delayed the abolitionist campaign for several reasons:

  • French revolutionary ideas of freedom were linked with the arguments of the abolitionists. The British Government made it difficult for the abolitionists to hold meetings.
  • The slave trade provided training for sailors joining the Royal Navy.
  • To oppose the slave trade during a major war seemed unpatriotic (against your country).
  • Britain needed ships and sailors to protect itself and the Empire.
  • Britain needed a lot of money to pay for the war with France. Ending the slave trade would cost the country too much money.

Slave Rebellions

A slave revolt on the French colony of Saint Domingue frightened the British government who thoughts steps towards abolition would encourage more slave rebellions. Led by Toussant L’ouverture the freed slaves set up an independent nation called Haiti.