After abolition

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Do you know what these objects are, and what the connection was between them?

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Token, We Are All Brethren, 1814, People's History Museum

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Although dated 1807, when the British transatlantic slave trade was abolished, these tokens were made in about 1814 and again in about 1830-50 to be used as coins in the colony of Sierra Leone in Africa.

Sierra Leone was an important centre of the transatlantic slave trade supplying enslaved Africans. In 1792, Freetown was founded by the Sierra Leone Company as a home for freed enslaved Africans. These men had fought for Britain in the American War of Independence and were offered their freedom. They were repatriated to Sierra Leone, even though they may have come from different parts of Africa.

The coins were commissioned by Zachary Macaulay, a former Governor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, and a member of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

The reverse is in Arabic, and translates as 'Sale of slaves prohibited in 1807, Christian era, in the reign of George III: verily, we are all brothers'. The Arabic text was possibly included as the Arab slave trade continued long after British abolition. This token may have been seen as a way of spreading the abolitionist message.

Even though the British slave trade ended in 1807, many millions of Africans continued to be enslaved and exported. British traders carried on transporting Africans illegally and some European countries did not abolish their trade until much later.

After slavery ended, Britain imported Asian indentured labourers to its Caribbean colonies to keep up the supply of cheap workers. These indentured labourers were paid very low wages but their conditions were not much better than those of slavery.

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An interactive video drama on slavery and abolition

This Accursed Thing

James Watkins