The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America

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Genres: Africa
Language: english
Type: Digital

W.E.B. Du Bois's "The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America," originally published in 1894, is a groundbreaking study investigating the historical forces that led to the abolishment of the transatlantic slave trade to the US. Here's a concise summary:

Focus: Du Bois analyzes the period from 1638 to 1870, delving into the rise and eventual suppression of the slave trade. He argues that:

  • Moral arguments: Abolitionist sentiments, fueled by Enlightenment ideals and religious critiques of slavery, gradually gained traction.
  • Economic factors: Southern dependence on the slave trade waned as cotton production shifted from the Upper to the Lower South, making other labor sources more attractive.
  • Political shifts: The nascent American nation's ideological conflicts, culminating in the Civil War, ultimately led to the abolishment of slavery and the trade that sustained it.

Unique Perspectives:

  • Black agency: Du Bois emphasizes the role of enslaved and free Black people in resisting and actively fighting against slavery, highlighting their agency and contributions to the abolitionist movement.
  • Critique of American hypocrisy: He exposes the moral contradictions inherent in a nation founded on ideals of freedom while perpetuating slavery, challenging the prevailing narrative of the founding fathers as solely advocates for liberty.


  • Seminal work: "The Suppression..." is considered a foundational text in African American history and slavery studies, influencing generations of scholars and activists.
  • Challenging narrative: Du Bois's nuanced analysis offers a critical perspective on American history, exposing the complexities and moral struggles underlying the abolishment of the slave 


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