Many new indepependent nations appeared in Latin America as a result of the Napoleonic Wars and aftermath. Ending the slave trade necesitated a diplomaric effort to obtain the cooperation of these new countries. The Latin American wars of independence combined with British diplomacy resulted in considerable progreass toward ending the slave trade. Slavery was fairly limited in most of these countries, except for Brazil. And the republican orientation of these new governments set the conditions for freeing slaves. Britain also had the advantage in these countries that it was the Royal Navy which prevented the Congrss of Vienna after the Napoleonic Wars from attempting to restore the old monarchial order in the Ammericas. Britain was also an important trading partner. Thus in country after country, slavery was abolished and treaties were signed with Britain to end the slave trade. The one hold out of importance was Brazil which did not fight a war of independence and and did not establish a republic.
Slavery was fairly limited in most of the Spanish colonies. There were some exceptions. The most important was Cuba. The Spanish had largely exterminated the Native American population in their Caribbean colonies. This primarily mean Cuba which was of enormous value because of the sugar industry. Generally the Spanish used the Native American population for labor. There were pockets in Spnish colonies where Africans were imported, including the Caribean coasts of Venezuela and Colombia. They were also imported in northern Ecuador (Esmeraldas).
Brazil had the largest slave population in the world, substantially larger than the United States. The Portuguese who settled Brazil needed labor to work the large estates and mines in their new Brazilian colony. They turned to slavery which became central to the colonial economy. It was particularly important in the mining and sugar cane sectors. Slavery was also the mainstay in the Caribbean islands with economies centered on sugar. Estimates suggest that about 35 percent of captured Africans involved in the Atlantic slave trade were transported to Brazil. Estimates suggest that more than 3 million Africans reached Brazil, although precise numbers do not exist. Brazil had begun to turn to slavery in the 15th century as explorers began moving along the coast of Africa. With the discovery of the Americas, the Portuguese attempted to enslave the Native American population as well. This did not prove successful. The Native Americans died in large numbers, both because of slave rading, mistreatment, and the lack of resistance to European diseases. The Portuguese found captured Africans to be a valuable trading commodity as Europeans began to settle the Caribbean islands. They also began transporting Africans to their Brazilian colony. Portuguese Prime Minister Marquês de Pombal abolished slavery in Portugal (February 12, 1761). The Portuguese action, however, did not address slavery in the colonies. Slavery was widely practiced. Brazilians of all classes owned slaves. Slaves were not only owned by upper and middle class Brazilians, but also by lower class Brazilians. There were even slaves who owned other slaves.
The diplomatic landscape changed during and after the Napoleonic Wars. One after another, the South American countries became independent republics. The Caribbean islands, except for Haiti, remained in European hands. The most important country here was Brazil with a substanti-slave based economy. This complicated the diplomatic effort creating many new jurisdictions thstv hd to be dealt with, The South American countries did not possess many vessels that prticipted in the slave trade, but they cooperated to vay degrees with the slavers--espeially Brazil. The large market for slaves in Brazil and the short run from Africa to Brazilin ports made interdiction difficult. Cuba was also important, but remained in Spanish hands.
The Congress of Vienna oversaw not only the redrawing of the European map, but made decessions affecting colonial possessions around the world. These involved the disposition of colonial possssions that had changed hands during the Napooleonic Wars, almost entirely possessions the British Royal Navy had seized. The Congress also condemned the slave trade. The Congress took no comcrete action to enforce the condemnation. The Great Powers except for Britain had no real stake in the slave trade which was primarily an Atlantic entrprise, at least as far as Europe was concered. It would fall upon Britain and the Royal Navy to end the slave trade. The Congress did not address the wars for independence against Spain rageing in South aznd Central America. I am not sure to whatt extent they were discussed, but any mention of them did not appear in the final agreement. Also not mentioned was the United States, a country Britain fought a war during the Napoleonic Wars (1812-15). This is somewhat curious because as a democratic republic, America was a chllenge to the monarchial conservative regime that the Congress was reimposing on Europe. I am not sure why the Congress took no decesions on America. Perhaps the delegates felt that Amrica was not very important. Or perhpas that republican government would ultimately fail. Or perhaps the British did not want the other Great Powers interfering. This is a topic we need to persue. After the Congress of Vienna, a kind of Congress System operated--a kind of collective security arrangement for European monarchs. The French intervened to supress liberal uprising in Spain. When the Congress System discussed restoring royal authority in the rebellious Spanish colonies, Britain objected. Only Britain among the Comgress Powers had a substantial naval force. It was needed if Spain was to reasert its authority. The British had no particular smpathy toward South American revolutionaries. They did see trade advantages, however, in braking up the Spanish Empire. Spain had attempted to prevent the colonies from trading with Britain. Thus Britain persued the trade advantages rather than supporting the Congress powers desiring to supress the new republics and restore Spanish royal rule.
Many new indepependent nations appeared in Latin America as a result of the Napoleonic Wars and aftermath. Ending the slave trade necesitated a diplomaric effort to obtain the cooperation of these new countries. The Latin American wars of independence combined with British diplomacy resulted in considerable progreass toward ending the slave trade. Britain also had the advantage in these countries that it was the Royal Navy which prevented the Congrss of Vienna after the Napoleonic Wars from attempting to restore the old monarchial order in the Ammericas. Britain was also an important trading partner.
The republican orientation of the new Latin American governments set the conditions for freeing slaves. Thus in country after country, slavery was abolished and treaties were signed with Britain to end the slave trade. The one hold out of importance was Brazil which did not fight a war of independence and and did not establish a republic.
Argentina did not have alarge slave population. Argentina declared the American slave trade an act of piracy (1824). Argentina and Columbia signed a Treaty with Britain committing to the total abolition of the slave trade and forbidding it in its own dominions (1825). The Argentine Confederation and Uruguay signed treaty with Britain with the same provisions as the 1835 Treaty with Spain (1839). Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle did not find slaves in rgentina. He was horified at the ongoing genocide directed at Native Americans. [Darwin]
Bolivia which at the time had a Pacific coastlie, signed a treaty with Britain to cooperate in the abolition of the slave trade and prohibiting its citizens from engaging in the trade (1837). Bolivia signed a treaty with Britain with the same provisions as the 1835 Treaty with Spain (1840).
Brazil had the largest number of slaves in South Americ. And unlike the Spanish coonies did not move towad abolition after independence. Brazil did, howeve, begin to cooperate with the British in ending the African slave trade. Brazil signed a treaty with Britain to abolish its slave trade in 3 years (1826). Before the treaty came into force, Brazil committed to following the terms of the 1817 Treaty between Portugal and Britain. Brazil decides move forcefully against those engaged in the slave trade by assessing fines and inflicting corporal punishment. They also declared that slave trading vessels arriving in Brazil would be confiscated (1831). Brazil ordered ships to be searched on their arrival at Rio to enforce the 1831 Decree (1832). Charles Daewin was horrified at what he saw when the HMS Beagle stopped Braziliab ports. [Darwin]
Chile and Venezuela signed treaties with Britain, conceding the Right of Search, the establishment of Mixed Commissions, authorising the condemnation of vessels equipped for the slave trade, and declaring that liberated slaves are to be given over to the government whose vessels seized a slaver. Chile declaring the slave trade to be an act of piracy (1842). Bolivia made the slave trade an act of piracy (1845).
New Grenada prohibited the import and export of slaves (1847). Venezuela acted again to prohibit the importation of slaves (1848). New Grenada signed a treaty with Britain to supress the slave trade and abolished slavery (1851).
Haiti was the second indeopendent republic in the Americas. Independence came with the French Revolution as a result of a slave rebellion. The resulting Independence War was a bloody one (1791-1804). Haiti was thus the first Ameican country to abolish slavery. After achieving its independence, however, the United States and European countries horrified at the idea of a slave rebellion as well as dealing with black officials, essentially ostracized Haiti. Haiti signed a treaty with Britain and France agreeing to the terms of the previous treaties between the (1831 and 1833).
Mexico signed a Treaty with Britain committing to the abolition of the slave trade and forbidding it in its own dominions (1826). Mexico signed a treaty with Britain declaring the slave trade an act of piracy, conceding a Right of Search, authorising that vessels equipped for the slave trade should be condemned and broken up before sale, and declaring that liberated slaves would be given over to the government whose vessels seized them (1841). Mexico declared slave trading to be an act of piracy (1851).
Peru and Brazil added articles to existing treaties outlawing the importation of negroes by land (1851).
Uruguay declared the slave trade to be an act of piracy (1853).
Venezuela prohibited the import of slaves and declared any slave reaching Venezuelan territories to be a free person (1845).
Darwin, Charles. Voyage of the Beagle (1839).
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