Slavery and Antislavery, 1760–1820

Christopher Leslie Brown

in The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199210879
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Slavery and Antislavery, 1760–1820

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  • History
  • Slavery and Abolition of Slavery
  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)



In 1760, the ownership of African slaves was common across the Americas, ubiquitous in Atlantic Africa, and tolerated if not always officially permitted in much of Western Europe. By 1820, a new moral critique of colonial slavery and the Atlantic slave had led to the first organised efforts for their abolition. It would seem that the revolutionary era brought with it the beginning of the end for slavery in the Atlantic world. Yet, at the same time, there had never been more slaves in the Americas than there were in 1820. The expansion of the Atlantic slave trade and its increasing concentration on Brazil had profound consequences for the peoples and societies of West Africa. The Age of Revolutions was an era of spectacular growth in the institution of slavery in the Americas, when considered from a hemispheric perspective. This article suggests that the history of warfare has particular relevance to the history of slavery, and, as will become apparent, anti-slavery, in the Atlantic world.

Keywords: Atlantic world; slaves; Africa; slavery; anti-slavery; warfare; Brazil; Americas; Age of Revolutions; Western Europe

Article.  8023 words. 

Subjects: History ; Slavery and Abolition of Slavery ; Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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