This Wikipedia timeline shows that the UK is one of the first (Please edit this if it's wrong) developed countries to abolish slavery, but could they've done so before 1843 (This Act was passed in 1833, but it excluded some regions). Were there any legitimate reasons for persistent slavery, such as possible invasion or threats from other world superpowers? If not, does this failure imply any evil, immorality, greed (to profit from low labour costs of slavery), on the part of the British?

Given my naiveté about history and the possible superficiality of simply guessing that they could (out of altruistic/humanitarian reasons), I'm interested in a deeper, apter explanation.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Semaphore, Mark C. Wallace, Samuel Russell, Tom Au, LateralFractal Nov 3 '14 at 3:01

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  • 6
    Applying modern morality to history is not fruitful. Moreover, it was ended earlier. Slavery was declared illegal under English law in 1772 (the air of England is too pure for any slave to breathe). From 1807 the Royal Navy began interdicting Atlantic slave trade ships, and Britain bribed other nations to end their slave trades. It is absurd to insinuate that the British is "evil immoral greedy" for being faster and more active to end slavery than most. For the record, an early attempt at abolition in the Empire was derailed when Britain entered the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793. – Semaphore Nov 1 '14 at 11:23
  • of course if they wanted they could have passed the same act at some previous time. The question is at what cost. – user69715 Oct 23 '17 at 20:14

No. Read up on WIlliam Wilberforce and Pitt the younger. Quakers and anti-abolitionist forces in the UK made noble and exhaustive efforts to end slavery, but the political coalition simply wasn't there. If it had been possible to end slavery earlier, Wilberforce would have done so.

  • The question asks if the "UK could have", not if the "UK was willing to" – Ian Ringrose Mar 21 '17 at 11:49

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