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How Did Slavers Avoid Penalties When Slave-Trading Was Abolished?

After Parliament abolished slave-trading, demand for slaves remained high in the “New World.” With slavery still legal, slave-traders tried to satisfy the demand for slaves by illegally continuing their slave-trading ways.

The British government dispatched Royal Navy ships to patrol the Atlantic in an effort to rescue illegally captured people. Historical records show that around 150,000 Africans were freed as a result of the patrols.

Violators of the new law were subject to fines of £100-per-slave, and naval officers were authorized to collect the funds on the spot. To avoid such stiff penalties, slavers would throw their “cargo” overboard, resulting in the deliberate murder of illegally captured people.

Assess the actions of the slave traders who avoided penalties by throwing their “cargo” overboard. Should the law have contained a provision charging such individuals with murder?

What do you think motivated slavers to treat their illegally captured Africans in such horrific ways?

Does economic gain or loss influence people to make dreadful decisions? Explain your answer.


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