The cost of ending slavery in the British Empire

BBC television has just broadcast two remarkable programme entitled “Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners”. The writer and presenter is David Olusoga, a half British, half Nigerian academic.

The programmes explain how in 1834 slavery was officially abolished by the British parliament but the slave owners were handsomely compensated. The Slavery Compensation Commission paid out a total sum equivalent to £17 bullion in today’s money to some 46,000 claimants stretching across the British Empire. Not a penny, of course, went to the 800,000 African slaves.

The programmes bring out the horror of the slave trade and follow how the compensation money was used. It is an account that is unsettling and upsetting but important to know.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>