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14th January 2022

The slave trade was 'abolished' in 1807. But then occurred something as shocking as the fact of slavery itselfl: for the next 25 years the slave owners wrangled about compensation and it was not until 1833 that they agreed terms. These were vastly advantageous to them and to those who profited from slavery. The slaves themselves got nothing at all, nowhere to live, no jobs, no income, nothing. 'The British government paid out £20 million – the equivalent of around 17 billion pounds today – to compensate slave owners for the lost capital associated with freeing slaves. This payout was a massive 40% of the government's budget. These obligations to slave owners and institutions were not paid off by the UK government until 2015. 'Britain stood out among European states in its willingness to appease slave owners, and to burden future generations of its citizens with the responsibility of paying for it' here . There is a book by Michael Taylor called The Interest: How the British Establishment resisted the Abolition of Slavery. Cf. also this excellent New Yorker article by Sam Knight inspired by the horribleness of the two kneeling slaves at Dyrham Park near Bath, here. Let's hope these have been quietly removed.

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