England’s Terrible Trade liverpool, England

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England’s Terrible Trade


LIVERPOOL, England Most people associate the Atlantic slave trade with Africa and the Americas. In truth, England also played a significant role in slavery's terrible history, aiding in the transport and trade of thousands of African slaves.

England began trading slaves in the 17th century. Soon, it became a major player in the European slave market. It engaged in what was known as "triangular trade," a profitable business involving resources from three continents. First, the traders would travel to Africa, bringing with them cotton and sugar from the New World colonies and manufactured goods from England. They would then exchange these goods for slaves, who would be transported to the British colonies in the Western Hemisphere. There, the slave traders would receive more cotton, sugar, and other raw materials. They could then sell these items or bring them to Africa to barter for more slaves.

The slave trade brought enormous wealth to the many families that were involved and ultimately contributed to England's growth. This growth, however, came at a terrible price. Untold numbers of Africans died by disease, shipwreck, and mistreatment. During weeks-long voyages of slave ships, captives were forced into extremely confined spaces, even if they became ill. For over a century, slave traders and those who supported the slave trade turned a blind eye to the mistreatment of those in bondage. They cited the prevailing belief that slaves were not humans, but property.

In England, it was not difficult to ignore the horrors of the slave trade, since most slaves sailed directly from Africa to the New World. Even some of the English cities that profited from slavery saw little of the trade at close quarters. Although slavery did exist in England, the vast majority of slaves were in the colonies. There, the plantation system demanded a tremendous work force. In the important slave trade city of Liverpool, England, for example, only 11 slaves are known to have been held.

Over time, however, stories of the slaves' mistreatment circulated throughout Britain. These stories fueled the zeal of abolitionists, who considered slavery cruel and unjust, and who advocated an end to the slave trade and slavery itself. In 1787, the ardent English abolitionist Thomas Clarkson visited Liverpool. He collected appalling stories from sailors about the brutal treatment of slaves. Clarkson purchased tools of the slave trade, including chains, handcuffs, and iron collars, so that he could educate the public about the horrors of the practice.

Some abolitionists came to the cause under unlikely circumstances. Abolitionist John Newton, for example, had himself been a slave trader. While serving as the captain of a slave ship, he began to feel sympathy for his captives. Newton later wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," as well as an abolitionist tract called "African Slave Trade."

In 1807, England abolished the slave trade. English citizens who already owned slaves, however, were permitted to retain them. It would be another 26 years, however, before the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 gave all slaves in the British Empire their freedom.

Today, the legacy of slavery is still evident in some English cities. In Liverpool, many streets bear the names of slave traders—unbeknownst to the majority of the city's residents. Most notably, Penny Lane, which gained fame after it became the subject of a Beatles tune, was named after slave trader James Penny. Some of the city's black historians are urging officials to further acknowledge Liverpool's role in slavery. That process has already begun. In 1999, the city council formally apologized, expressing "shame and remorse for the city's role in this trade in human misery."


abolitionist (noun) a person who supported outlawing slavery

appalling (adjective) causing dismay or horror

legacy (noun) something handed down to a new generation

colony (noun) a land ruled by another country

plantation (noun) a large farm where plants are grown

slavery (noun) when people are made to work for no money
Multiple Choice: Circle the letter of the choice the best completes the statement. (2 points each)

1. The best alternate headline for this article would be __________.

  1. England's Part in the History of Slavery

  2. England's Abolitionists Made History

  3. The Creation of "Amazing Grace"

  4. The Memory of Slavery in Liverpool

2. Which of these is a statement of opinion?

  1. The Liverpool city council formally apologized for its part in slavery in 1999.

  2. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 gave slaves in the British Empire their freedom.

  3. Abolitionist Thomas Clarkson purchased tools of the slave trade to educate the public.

  4. Officials would be wise to further acknowledge Liverpool's role in slavery.

3. Which is the closest antonym for the word ardent?

  1. Flattering

  2. Unpleasant

  3. Fierce

  4. Unenthusiastic

4. This article would be most useful as a source for a student research project on __________.

  1. Africa's role in the slave trade

  2. The European slave trade

  3. The U.S. slave trade

  4. Liverpool's slave trade

5. The author probably wrote this article in order to __________.

  1. Argue that Liverpool officials should do more to acknowledge the city's role in slavery's history

  2. Detail why it is important to collect stories and educate the public on the horrors of slavery

  3. Describe the role that England played in the European slave trade

  4. Explain how slave traders such as John Newton became abolitionists

6. Which question is not answered by the article?

  1. Which act gave all slaves in the British Empire their freedom?

  2. What have officials done to acknowledge Liverpool's role in slavery?

  3. Why did slave trader John Newton decide to become an abolitionist?

  4. When was the practice of slavery abolished in the United States?

7. The article states: That process has already begun. In 1999, the city council formally apologized. Its leaders expressed "shame and remorse for the city's role in this trade in human misery." Which would be the closest synonym for the word formally?

  1. Dishonestly

  2. Casually

  3. Officially

  4. Enthusiastically

8. Which of these is most important to include in a summary of this article?

  1. England was a major player in the European slave trade.

  2. In Liverpool, England, only 11 slaves are known to have been held captive.

  3. Many people are familiar with Penny Lane because it was the subject of a song.

  4. A former slave trader wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace."

Opinion Question: Now that you have read the article, indicate whether you agree or disagree with this statement. Which is more surprising?

  1. England's 1807 law stopped the slave trade. But people who already owned slaves could keep them.

  2. The slave trade in England went on for 200 years.

  3. Some slave traders became abolitionists.

Thought Question: Explain why it is important for students to study the history of the slave trade. Use information from the article, as well as your own ideas, in your response. (5 points)

Math- In 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act said that all slaves in England and its colonies were free. In 1999, the city of Liverpool said it was sorry for taking part in the slave trade of the 1600s. How many years passed between 1833 and 1999?

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