The Trans Atlantic slave trade refers to that type of trade that involve three continents America, Africa and Europe. In this trading system, Africa was the source of cheap labour in the form of slaves, America was the source of raw materials and Europe was the source of manufactured goods.
The main participants were Britain, France, Holland and Portugal. The British were the ones who benefited so much from this trade since the 17 th Century, took the lead in the abolition of slave trade in the first half of the 19 th Century. the British took various steps to abolish slave trade consequently in 1807, Britain passed a bill making slave trade illegal in all her colonies and in 1833; a law was passed that called for the emancipation of all slaves in the British empire.There are various forces that compelled the British to abolish the Trans Atlantic slave trade. These factors included the following;
(1) Economic reasons – These were the main factors that forced the British to abolish the Trans Atlantic slave trade, they included;
(a) Capitalist production; Capitalist production involves two classes of societies, which are the capitalists who control the major means of production and the workers who are employed by the capitalists. For the workers to be effectively employed, they must be free and not slaves.
(b) Need for markets; Due to the industrial revolution, there was increased production of industrial products in Europe that lacked enough demand; this forced the British to abolish slave trade so that markets can be created in Africa for their manufactured goods.
(c) Need for raw materials; Due to the industrial revolution, there was increased demand for raw materials in Britain. The existing raw materials were limited to supply due to the mushrooming of industries. This situation necessitated the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade so that Africans can produce the needed raw materials.
(d) The use of machines; The industrial revolution was characterized by the use of machines in the production process, these machines replaced human labour. The owners of the machines campaigned for the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade because slave labour had become redundant.
(e) French and British competition over sugar production; For so long period, the British had a monopoly on sugar in the European market. The sugar was produced by slave labour in the British West Indies. The British was selling their sugar at very high prices thus making huge profits. However by the end of the 18 th Century, the French West Indies and re union islands were producing sugar in large quantities and selling at a cheaper price thus making more profits than the British. This situation made slave labour in British West Indies useless thus forcing the British to abolish the Trans Atlantic slave trade.
(2) Religious reasons; The religious bodies contributed to the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade in Africa. They argued that slave trade was against the will of God because he had created all people equal but slave trade was treating Africans as an inferior class. The Christians denounced slave trade in the name of God and argued that it must be abolished.
(3) French revolution of 1789; The French revolution of 1789 had a role to play in the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade. The slogan of the revolution was fraternity, liberty and equality. Philosophers such as Rousseau campaigned for the abolition of slave trade. These philosophers claimed that slave trade was against the ideals of the French revolution thus it had to be stopped.
(4) Humanitarian movements; The humanitarians such as Granville sharp and Thomas Clarkson played a certain role in the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade. These people argued that slave trade had caused a lot of suffering to the people thus it had to be abolished. These efforts were followed by British declarations of 1807 and 1833 which abolished slave trade and slavery.