by Elise A. Guyette

Abolition of Slavery*

1761 – Portugal (on the mainland)
1772 – Great Britain (14,000 slaves freed on the mainland)
1777 – Vermont (gradual)
1784 – All the New England states (gradual)
1788 – Denmark (frees the serfs)
1792 – France (although reinstated & abolished several times until 1848)
1794 – Haiti
1824 – Spain (after an apprenticeship)
1825 – Chili
1829 – Mexico
1833 – The entire British Empire (after an apprenticeship)
1834 -South Africa
1846 – Danish West Indies ( now Virgin Islands)
1848 -Final abolition in France
1854 – Venezuela & Peru
1860 – Russia (frees the serfs)
1863 – Netherlands
1865 – United States
1875 – Portugal (in their colonies)
1886 – Cuba
1888 – Brazil, the last nation in the western hemisphere

* Abolition did not mean that states/nations stopped participating in the slave trade where it was legal. In fact, New England companies were major actors in this trade.

Selected Anti-slavery Activities

1732 – The Bretheren, a German Evangelical Christian sect, calls for an end to slavery
1734 – Marie-Joseph Angelique, a Black slave in New France, set fire to her owner’s house to cover her attempt to escape slavery. The fire spread and destroyed 46 homes. She was caught, tortured and hanged.*
1760 – Major slave uprising in Jamaica
1766 – Anthony Benezet, a French colonist in Philadelphia, publishes an anti-slavery book.
1769 – Thomas Jefferson introduces a bill in the Virginia House of Burgesses to grant freedom to slaves.
1775 – First US abolitionist society formed (PA)
1776 – First draft of the Declaration of Independence challenges slavery on moral grounds (later stricken).
1775 to 1783 – Tens of thousands of African Americans fight on both sides for their freedom
1788 – Gustavus Vassa (Olaudah Equiano) moves from the US to England and becomes a prominent abolitionist.
1794- 1804 – Haitian Revolution creates the first black republic
1799 – George Washington frees his slaves in his will
1808 – Slave trade abolished in US and Britain
1810 – Jeffrey Brace (former slave) publishes his autobiography in Georgia, VT as a protest against slavery
1816 – Prince Sauders (former VT indentured servant) publishes the “Haytian Papers” as an answer to prejudice against blacks
1822 – Denmark Vesey slave rebellion in So. Carolina; Republic of Liberia established for freed slaves
1831 – Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in Virginia

* Enslaved people were daily protesting their status by resisting white demands, escaping, poisoning their masters, etc. This is one example.

Anti-Slavery Society/Société Antiesclavagiste
Guyette, E.A. (1995). “A short history of slavery in New England,” in Making a living: The work experiences of African Americans in New England, 1700-1945. Boston: Museum of Afro American History.
North American Black Historical Museum. Slavery in NEW FRANCE
Rossiter, E. (1993). “The abolition of slavery in the western hemisphere: Its consequences for Africa,” in OAH Magazine of History (Summer): 45-54.