Tuesday, March 20, 2007

UK Bicentennial of Abolition of the Slave Trade - But Canada Was First!

The year 2007 marks the 200th anniversary of the British legislation that banned the transatlantic trade in slaves. The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed in the Westminster Parliament on 25 March 1807.

Slavery itself was fully abolished throughout the British Empire in 1834.

A number of websites have been created to mark this important commemoration:
  • The National Archives of the United Kingdom have created a portal on the Abolition of Slavery
  • The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, Awards for All, and 24 Hour Museum have joined in partnership to announce their support of the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade with the launch of the website Abolition200. It contains a searchable database of events from all over the British Isles and highlights funding opportunities for groups that wish to apply for National Lottery money to help fund their commemorative events and activities.
  • The British Library has brought together many of its numerous resources and created Slavery, the Slave Trade and its Abolition
What is not well known, even in Canada, is that one of the first moves towards the abolition of the slave trade took place right here.

The colony of Upper Canada, now the province of Ontario, was the pioneer in this movement. In 1793, colonial Governor John Graves Simcoe, the founder of York (later to become Toronto), passed An Act to prevent the further introduction of slaves, and to limit the Term of Contracts for servitude within this Province (ECO - Early Canadiana Online archives - there is a Wikipedia version if the ECO link doesn't work for you). The law freed slaves aged 25 and over and made it illegal to bring slaves into Upper Canada, which became a safe haven for runaway slaves. Simcoe’s law also made Upper Canada the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to move toward the abolition of slavery. Slavery formally ended in Canada in 1834 as it did in all British territories but it had been in sharp decline since Simcoe's legislation was passed.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:58 pm

2 Comments:

Blogger the library girl said...

A library school colleague directed me to your blog. It's nice to know there is a libraryboy in our very librarygirl world.

Nice content..
-thelibrarygirl

10:03 pm  
Blogger Michel-Adrien said...

Hello there.

Online, I know of a Library Grrl, a Library Diva, a Library Vixen, and a Library Mistress (in Austria). I have also ran across someone who goes under the pseudonym of Library B**ch, who wants to be a kind of NexGen blogger.

So I am very pleased to meet "the library girl". Especially since you are from Halifax, one of my favourite cities.

Cheers.

7:41 pm  

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