Reuters Staff

Following are some key dates in the trans-atlantic trade in slaves from Africa and its abolition.

1444 – First public sale of African slaves in Lagos, Portugal

1482 – Portuguese start building first permanent slave trading post at Elmina, Gold Coast, now Ghana

1510 – First slaves arrive in the Spanish colonies of South America, having travelled via Spain

1518 – First direct shipment of slaves from Africa to the Americas

1777 – State of Vermont, an independent Republic after the American Revolution, becomes first sovereign state to abolish slavery

1780s – Trans-Atlantic slave trade reaches peak

1787 – The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade founded in Britain by Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson

1792 – Denmark bans import of slaves to its West Indies colonies, although the law only took effect from 1803.

1807 – Britain passes Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, outlawing British Atlantic slave trade.

– United States passes legislation banning the slave trade, effective from start of 1808.

1811 – Spain abolishes slavery, including in its colonies, though Cuba rejects ban and continues to deal in slaves.

1813 – Sweden bans slave trading

1814 – Netherlands bans slave trading

1817 – France bans slave trading, but ban not effective until 1826

1819 – Portugal abolishes slave trade north of the equator

– Britain places a naval squadron off the West African coast to enforce the ban on slave trading

1823 – Britain’s Anti-Slavery Society formed. Members include William Wilberforce

1833 – Britain passes Abolition of Slavery Act, ordering gradual abolition of slavery in all British colonies. Plantation owners in the West Indies receive 20 million pounds in compensation

– Great Britain and Spain sign a treaty prohibiting the slave trade

1846 – Danish governor proclaims emancipation of slaves in Danish West Indies, abolishing slavery

1848 – France abolishes slavery

1851 – Brazil abolishes slave trading

1858 – Portugal abolishes slavery in its colonies, although all slaves are subject to a 20-year apprenticeship

1861 – Netherlands abolishes slavery in Dutch Caribbean colonies

1862 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln proclaims emancipation of slaves with effect from January 1, 1863; 13th Amendment of U.S. Constitution follows in 1865 banning slavery

1886 – Slavery is abolished in Cuba

1888 – Brazil abolishes slavery

1926 – League of Nations adopts Slavery Convention abolishing slavery

1948 – United Nations General Assembly adopts Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including article stating “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

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