Haiti (then Saint-Domingue) formally declared independence from France in 1804 and became the first sovereign nation in the Western Hemisphere to unconditionally abolish slavery in the modern era.
Mauritania is the world’s last country to abolish slavery, and the country didn’t make slavery a crime until 2007. The practice reportedly affects up to 20% of the country’s 3.5 million population (pdf, p. 258), most of them from the Haratin ethnic group.
Brazil did not end slavery until the economic system it was based upon could no longer be maintained. It was the last country in the Americas to do so.
Slavery in Brazil lasted for 300 years, and it imported some 4 million Africans to the country. These images were taken during the waning days of slavery and Brazil’s monarchy. Many were commissioned by the state in an attempt to show slavery in a better light.
A major reason for the decline was the British Parliament’s 1807 abolition of the slave trade, under which the transportation of slaves to Jamaica after 1 March 1808 was forbidden; the abolition of the slave trade was followed by the abolition of slavery in 1834 and full emancipation within four years.
The Slavery Abolition Act came into effect on 1 August 1834, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire, including British North America. The Act made enslavement officially illegal in every province and freed the last remaining enslaved people in Canada.
Since the 2014 Civil War in Libya, and the subsequent breakdown of law and order, there have been reports of enslaved migrants being sold in public, open slave markets in the country. Mauritania has a long history with slavery.
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring “all persons held as slaves… shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free,” effective January 1, 1863. It was not until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, in 1865, that slavery was formally abolished ( here ).
The original inhabitants of Jamaica are believed to be the Arawaks, also called Tainos. They came from South America 2,500 years ago and named the island Xaymaca, which meant ““land of wood and water”. The Arawaks were a mild and simple people by nature.
Slavery, by contrast, was an ancient institution in Russia and effectively was abolished in the 1720s. Serfdom, which began in 1450, evolved into near-slavery in the eighteenth century and was finally abolished in 1906.
Africans carried to North America, including the Caribbean, left mainly from West Africa. Well over 90 percent of enslaved Africans were imported into the Caribbean and South America. Only about 6 percent of African captives were sent directly to British North America.
Slave labor was the driving force behind the growth of the sugar economy in Brazil, and sugar was the primary export of the colony from 1600 to 1650. Gold and diamond deposits were discovered in Brazil in 1690, which sparked an increase in the importation of African slaves to power this newly profitable mining.
On May 13, 1888, Brazilian Princess Isabel of Bragança signed Imperial Law number 3,353. Although it contained just 18 words, it is one of the most important pieces of legislation in Brazilian history. Called the “Golden Law,” it abolished slavery in all its forms.
The abolition of slavery in Latin America took place between the Wars of Independence of the 1810s and 1820s and the 1880s when slavery was finally suppressed in Cuba (in 1886) and Brazil (in 1888).