25 March 2007
The 25 March 2007 saw the 200-year-celebration of the abolishment of the slave trade in the British Empire. The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed by the British Parliament on 25 March 1807. It outlawed slave trade within the British Empire, but did not abolish slavery as such. Any British captain who was caught transporting slaves was fined £100 for every slave found on board the ship. However, this law did not completely stop the British slave trade as was envisaged. If slave-ships were in danger of being captured by the British navy, captains often reduced the fines they had to pay by ordering the slaves to be thrown into the sea. Though the slave trade was abolished in 1807, the abolition of slavery as an institution throughout the British Empire was achieved by Act of Parliament on 1 August 1834, becoming law from this date. Emancipation was followed by four years of apprenticeship. As a result August 1 is now celebrated as a public holiday and is called "Emancipation Day". The British government officially abolished slavery in the Cape Colony on 1 December 1834, but, according to law, the slaves were apprenticed for four years.