[1807] - Abolition Act receives royal assent, abolishing the slave trade

An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade (otherwise known as the Abolition Act or the Slave Trade Act) was passed by parliament in February 1807 and received royal assent on 25 March. It abolished the slave trade (though not slavery itself) in the British colonies, making it illegal to carry enslaved people in British ships.

In 1772 the court ruling known as Somersett’s Case had declared that slavery was unlawful, leading directly to the emancipation of thousands of slaves in Britain. Slavery remained legal, however, throughout most of the British Empire until the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. The 1807 Abolition Act was, however, a major achievement for the parliamentary group led by William Wilberforce that had campaigned since the late 1780s against the trade in slaves. As Britain outlawed its own slave trade in 1807, it began to press other nations to do the same.

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