Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Kathryn Meyer (Committee Member), Opolot Okia (Committee Member), Christopher Oldstone-moore (Committee Chair)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


The abolition of British slavery in the 19th century raises the question of how the British achieved antislavery against colonial opposition. While historical theories have focused on economic, political and religious factors, no account of abolition is complete without a thorough investigation of the history of evolving British legal traditions. This thesis analyzed a number of British homeland court cases and antislavery laws. English legal traditions established principles of freedom long before abolition in Britain, and then upheld them in respect to blacks on British soil in the 18th century. On the other hand, these traditions exposed a void in British homeland law on slavery that failed to provide any positive legal basis for freedom beyond its shores, forcing abolitionists into a long battle to build social and political pressures to create such positive laws. This was facilitated by a gradual expansion of Parliamentary authority to impose such antislavery laws.

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Department or Program

Department of History

Year Degree Awarded


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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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