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Timeline of abolition of slavery and serfdom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The abolition of slavery occurred at different times in different countries. It frequently occurred sequentially in more than one stage – for example, as abolition of the trade in slaves in a specific country, and then as abolition of slavery throughout empires. Each step was usually the result of a separate law or action. This timeline shows abolition laws or actions listed chronologically. It also covers the abolition of serfdom.

Although slavery is still abolished de jure in all countries, some practices akin to it continue today in many places throughout the world.

Ancient times

Date Jurisdiction Description
Early sixth century BC
Greek coin tetradrachme panathenaic games.jpg
Polis of Athens
The Athenian lawgiver Solon abolishes debt slavery and frees all Athenian citizens who had formerly been enslaved.[1][2]
326 BC
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg
Roman Republic
Lex Poetelia Papiria abolishes debt bondage.
3rd century BC
Emblem of India.svg
Maurya Empire
Ashoka abolishes the slave trade and encourages people to treat slaves well in the Maurya Empire, covering the majority of India, which was under his rule.[3]
221–206 BC
Qin dynasty (Chinese characters).svg
Qin Dynasty
Measures to eliminate the landowning aristocracy include the abolition of slavery and the establishment of a free peasantry who owed taxes and labor to the state. They also discouraged serfdom.[4] The dynasty was overthrown in 206 BC and many of its laws were overturned.
9–12 AD Xin Dynasty Wang Mang, first and only emperor of the Xin Dynasty, usurped the Chinese throne and instituted a series of sweeping reforms, including the abolition of slavery and radical land reform from 9–12 A.D.[5][6]

Medieval times

N.B.: Many of the listed reforms were reversed over succeeding centuries.
Date Jurisdiction Description
~500 Ireland Slavery (or at least slave trading) ends for a time in Ireland,[7] but resumes by the ninth century.[8]
590–604  Rome Pope Gregory I bans Jews from owning Christian slaves.[9]
7th century Francia Queen Balthild, a former slave, and the Council of Chalon-sur-Saône (644–655) condemn the enslavement of Christians. Balthild purchases slaves, mostly Saxon, and manumits them.[10]
741–752  Rome Pope Zachary bans the sale of Christian slaves to Muslims, purchases all slaves acquired in the city by Venetian traders, and sets them free.
Carolingian Empire
Flag of the Republic of Venice.svg
Pactum Lotharii: Venice pledges to neither buy Christian slaves in the Empire, nor sell them to Muslims. Venetian slavers switch to trading Slavs from the East.
873 Christendom Pope John VIII commands under penalty of sin that all Christians who hold other Christians as slaves must set them free.[11]
922 West Francia The Council of Koblenz equates the enslavement and sale of a Christian with homicide.[12]
Flag of the Republic of Venice.svg
Slave trade banned in the city under the rule of Doge Pietro IV Candiano.
Flag of Basse-Normandie.svg
Flag of Basse-Normandie.svg
William the Conqueror prohibits the sale of any person to "heathens" (non-Christians) as slaves.
Flag of Basse-Normandie.svg
Serfdom no longer present.[13]
Flag of Basse-Normandie.svg
Norman England
The Council of London bans the slave trade.[12]
Armoiries de Jérusalem.svg
The Council of Nablus decrees that a man who rapes his own slave should be castrated, and that a man who rapes a slave belonging to another should be castrated and exiled.
c. 1160
Raven Banner.svg
The Gulating bans the sale of house slaves out of the country.[citation needed]
Coat of arms of the Lordship of Ireland.svg
All English slaves in the island freed by the Council of Armagh.[12]
Flag of France (XII-XIII).svg
Trinitarian Order founded with the purpose of redeeming war captives.
1214 Korčula The Statute of the Town abolishes slavery.[14]
1218 Catalonia Crown of Aragon Mercedarians founded in Barcelona with the purpose of ransoming poor Christians enslaved by Muslims.
War flag of the Holy Roman Empire (1200-1350).svg
Holy Roman Empire
The Sachsenspiegel, the most influential German code of law from the Middle Ages, condemns slavery as a violation of man's likeness to God.[15]
1245 Catalonia Crown of Aragon James I bans Jews from owning Christian slaves, but allows them to own Muslims and Pagans.[16]
1256  Bologna Liber Paradisus promulgated. Slavery and serfdom abolished, all serfs in the commune are released.
Royal arms of Norway.svg
Landslov (Land's Law) mentions only former slaves, implying that slavery was abolished in Norway.
Flag of France (XII-XIII).svg
Louis X publishes a decree abolishing slavery and proclaiming that "France signifies freedom", that any slave setting foot on French ground should be freed.[17] However some limited cases of slavery continued until the 17th century in some of France's Mediterranean harbours in Provence, as well as until the 18th century in some of France's overseas territories.[18] Most aspects of serfdom are also eliminated de facto between 1315 and 1318.[19]
Shield of arms of Sweden.svg
Slavery abolished (including Sweden's territory in Finland). However, slaves are not banned entry into the country until 1813.[20] In the 18th and 19th Centuries, slavery will be practiced in the Swedish-ruled Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy.
Kingdom of Poland-flag.svg
The Statutes of Casimir the Great issued in Wiślica emancipate all non-free people.[21]
Ming dynasty (Chinese characters).svg
Ming Dynasty
The Hongwu Emperor abolishes all forms of slavery,[5] but it continues across China. Later rulers, as a way of limiting slavery in the absence of a prohibition, pass a decree that limits the number of slaves per household and extracts a severe tax from slave owners.[22]
1416  Ragusa Slavery and slave trade abolished.
Coat of arms of Jean de Béthencourt.svg
Canary Islands
Pope Eugene IV's Sicut Dudum bans enslavement of Christians in the Canary Islands on pain of excommunication.[23] However the non-Christian Guanches can still be enslaved.[18]
1477  Castile Isabella I bans slavery in newly conquered territories.[24]
1486 Catalonia Crown of Aragon Ferdinand II promulgates the Sentence of Guadalupe, abolishing Carolingian-remnant serfdom (remença) in Old Catalonia.
1490  Castile The slaves of one particular trader are released by a royal cedula.[24]
1493  Castile Queen Isabella bans the enslavement of Native Americans unless they are hostile or cannibalistic.[24] Native Americans are ruled to be subjects of the Crown. Columbus is preempted from selling Indian captives in Seville and those already sold are tracked, purchased from their buyers and released.

1500–1700 (Early Modern)

Date Jurisdiction Description
1503  Castile Native Americans allowed to travel to Spain only on their own free will.[25]
1512  Castile The Laws of Burgos establish limits to the treatment of natives in the Encomienda system.
1518 Spanish Empire Spain Decree of Charles V establishing the importation of African slaves to the Americas, under monopoly of Laurent de Gouvenot, in an attempt to discourage enslavement of Native Americans.
1528 Spanish Empire Spain Charles V forbids the transportation of Native Americans to Europe, even on their own will, in an effort to curtail their enslavement.
1530 Spanish Empire Spain Outright slavery of Native Americans under any circumstance is banned. However, forced labor under the Encomienda system continues.
1536 Spanish Empire Spain The Welser family is dispossessed of the Asiento monopoly (granted in 1528) following complaints about their treatment of Native American workers in Venezuela.
1537 New World Pope Paul III forbids slavery of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and any other population to be discovered, establishing their right to freedom and property (Sublimis Deus).[26]
1542 Spanish Empire Spain The New Laws ban slave raiding in the Americas and abolish the slavery of natives, but replace it with other systems of forced labor like the repartimiento. Slavery of Black Africans continues.[18] New limits are imposed to the Encomienda.
1549 Spanish Empire Spain Encomiendas banned from using forced labor.
1552 Spanish Empire Spain Bartolomé de las Casas, who had once defended the importation of African slaves as a way to protect Native Americans, also condemns African slavery.
1569  England An English court case involving Cartwright, who had brought a slave from Russia, is said—on the basis of a summary written more than a century later—to have ruled slavery illegal in England, but appears to have been more about the nature of legally acceptable punishment than slavery per se, and certainly did not soon become a recognized precedent for outlawing slavery as slaves continued to be bought and sold in Liverpool and London markets without legal hindrance into the 18th century. See the article "Slavery at common law".
1570  Portugal King Sebastian of Portugal bans the enslavement of Native Americans under Portuguese rule, allowing only the enslavement of hostile ones. This law was highly influenced by the Society of Jesus, which had missionaries in direct contact with Brazilian tribes.
1574  England Last remaining serfs emancipated by Elizabeth I.[19]
 Philippines Slavery abolished by royal decree[27].
Coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.svg
The Third Statute of Lithuania abolishes slavery.[28]
1590  Japan Toyotomi Hideyoshi bans slavery except as punishment for criminals.[29]
1595  Portugal Trade of Chinese slaves banned.[30]
1602  England The Clifton Star Chamber Case set a precedent, that impressing / enslaving children to serve as actors was illegal.
1609 Spanish Empire Spain The Moriscos, many of whom are serfs, are expelled from Peninsular Spain unless they become slaves voluntarily (known as moros cortados, "cut Moors") However, a large proportion avoid expulsion or manage to return..[31]
1624  Portugal Enslavement of Chinese banned.[32][33]
Russian coa 1589 grozny.png
The sale of Russian slaves to Muslims is banned.[34]
1679  Russia Feodor III converts all Russian field slaves into serfs.[35][36]
1683 Spanish Empire Chile Slavery of Mapuche prisoners of war abolished.[37]
1687 Spanish Empire Florida Slaves fugitive from British colonies are granted freedom in return for conversion to Catholicism and four years of military service.

1701–1799 (Late Modern)

Date Jurisdiction Description
1703 Ottoman Empire The forced conversion and induction of Christian children into the army known as Devshirme or "Blood Tax", is abolished.
1706  England In Smith v. Browne & Cooper, Sir John Holt, Lord Chief Justice of England, rules that "as soon as a Negro comes into England, he becomes free. One may be a villein in England, but not a slave."[38][39]
1712  Spain Moros cortados expelled.[40]
Red Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg
North Carolina
Red Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg
South Carolina
Native American slave trade in the American Southeast reduces with the outbreak of the Yamasee War.
1723  Russia Peter the Great converts all house slaves into house serfs, effectively making slavery illegal in Russia.
Seal of Qing dynasty.svg
Qing Dynasty
The Yongzheng emancipation seeks to free all slaves to strengthen the autocratic ruler through a kind of social leveling that creates an undifferentiated class of free subjects under the throne. Although these new regulations freed the vast majority of slaves, wealthy families continued to use slave labor into the twentieth century.[22]
Red Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg
Province established without black slavery in sharp contrast to neighboring Carolina. In 1738, James Oglethorpe warns against changing that policy, which would "occasion the misery of thousands in Africa."[41] Native American slavery is legal throughout, however, and black slavery is later introduced in 1749.
1738 Spain Florida Fort Mosé, the first legal settlement of free blacks in what is today the United States, is established. Word of the settlement sparks the Stono Rebellion in South Carolina the following year.
1761  Portugal The Marquis of Pombal bans the importation of slaves to metropolitan Portugal[42]
Bandera de España 1760-1785.svg
Muhammad III of Morocco purchases the freedom of all Muslim slaves in Seville, Cadiz, and Barcelona.[43]
1772  England Somersett's case rules that no slave can be forcibly removed from England. This case was generally taken at the time to have decided that the condition of slavery did not exist under English law in England and Wales, and emancipated the remaining ten to fourteen thousand slaves or possible slaves in England and Wales, who were mostly domestic servants.[44]
1773  Portugal A new decree by the Marquis of Pombal, signed by the king Dom José, emancipates fourth-generation slaves[42] and every child of a slave mother born (the child) after the decree was published.[45]
Flag of the British East India Company (1801).svg
East India Company
Government of Bengal passed regulations 9, and 10 of 1774, prohibiting the trade in slaves without written deed, and the sale of anyone not already enslaved.[46]
1775  Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Abolition Society formed in Philadelphia, the first abolition society within the territory that is now the United States of America.
Flag of the United States (1777-1795).svg
United States
Atlantic slave trade banned or suspended during the American Revolutionary War. This was part of the 13 colonies overall policy of refusing to import anything from Britain, as an attempt to cut all economic ties with Britain during the war.[47]
1777 Portugal Madeira Slavery abolished.[48]
Flag of the Vermont Republic.svg
The Constitution of the Vermont Republic partially bans slavery,[48] freeing men over 21 and women older than 18 at the time of its passage.[49] The ban is not strongly enforced.[50][51]
1778  Scotland Joseph Knight successfully argues that Scots law cannot support the status of slavery.[52]
1780  Pennsylvania An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery passed, freeing future children of slaves. Those born prior to the Act remain enslaved for life. The Act becomes a model for other Northern states. Last slaves freed 1847.[53]
1783  Russia Slavery abolished in the recently annexed Crimean Khanate.[54]
 Massachusetts Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules slavery unconstitutional, a decision based on the 1780 Massachusetts constitution. All slaves are immediately freed.[55]
Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg
Habsburg Monarchy
Joseph II abolishes slavery in Bukovina.[56]
 New Hampshire Gradual abolition of slavery begins.
1784  Connecticut Gradual abolition of slavery, freeing future children of slaves, and later all slaves.[57]
Seal of Rhode Island.svg
Rhode Island
Gradual abolition of slavery begins.
Flag of Great Britain (1707–1800).svg
New South Wales
A no slavery policy is adopted by governor-designate Arthur Phillip for the soon-to-be established colony.[58]
Flag of the United States (1777-1795).svg
United States
The United States in Congress Assembled passes the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, outlawing any new slavery in the Northwest Territories.
Flag of Great Britain (1707–1800).svg
Sierra Leone
Founded by Great Britain as a colony for emancipated slaves.[59]
 Great Britain Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade founded in Great Britain.[48]
1788  Great Britain Sir William Dolben's Act regulating the conditions on British slave ships enacted.
 France Abolitionist Society of the Friends of the Blacks founded in Paris.
1789  France Last remaining seigneurial privileges over peasants abolished.[60]
Royal Banner of Stanisław II of Poland.svg
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Constitution of May 3, 1791 introduced elements of political equality between townspeople and nobility, and placed the peasants under the protection of the government; thus, it mitigated the worst abuses of serfdom.
1791  France Emancipation of second-generation slaves in the colonies.[43]
1792  Denmark-Norway Transatlantic slave trade declared illegal after 1803, though slavery continues in Danish colonies to 1848.[61]
Flag of Haiti (1791–1798).svg
Commissioner Leger-Felicite Sonthonax abolishes slavery in the northern part of the colony. His colleague Etienne Polverel does the same in the rest of the territory in October.
Flag of Great Britain (1707–1800).svg
Upper Canada
Importation of slaves banned by the Act Against Slavery.
1794  France Slavery abolished in all French territories and possessions.[62]
Flag of the United States (1777-1795).svg
United States
The Slave Trade Act bans both American ships from participating in the slave trade and the export of slaves in foreign ships.[47]
Royal Banner of Stanisław II of Poland.svg
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Proclamation of Połaniec, issued during the Kościuszko Uprising, partially abolished serfdom in Poland, and granted substantial civil liberties to all peasants.
1798 French First Republic Occupied Malta Slavery banned in the islands after their capture by Napoleon.[63]
Flag of New York (1778–1901).svg
New York
Gradual emancipation act freeing the future children of slaves, and all slaves in 1827.[64]
 Scotland The Colliers (Scotland) Act 1799 ends the legal servitude or slavery of coal and salt miners that had been established in 1606.[65]


Date Jurisdiction Description
1800  United States American citizens banned from investment and employment in the international slave trade in an additional Slave Trade Act.
1802  France Napoleon re-introduces slavery in sugarcane-growing colonies.[66]
United States Ohio State constitution abolishes slavery.
1803  Denmark-Norway Abolition of transatlantic slave trade takes effect on January 1.
1804  New Jersey All the Northern states abolished slavery; New Jersey in 1804 was the last to act. None of the Southern or border states abolished slavery before the American Civil War.[67]
 Haiti Haiti declares independence and abolishes slavery.[48]
FLAG Topola.gif
Local slaves emancipated.
1805  United Kingdom A bill for abolition passes in House of Commons but is rejected in the House of Lords.
1806  United States In a message to Congress, Thomas Jefferson calls for criminalizing the international slave trade, asking Congress to "withdraw the citizens of the United States from all further participation in those violations of human rights … which the morality, the reputation, and the best of our country have long been eager to proscribe."
1807  United States International slave trade made a felony in Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves; this act takes effect on 1 January 1808, the earliest date permitted under the Constitution.[68]The domestic trade in slaves in the United States continued until 1865.
 United Kingdom Abolition of the Slave Trade Act abolishes slave trading in British Empire. Captains fined £120 per slave transported. Patrols sent to the African coast to arrest slaving vessels. The West Africa Squadron (Royal Navy) is established to suppress slave trading; by 1865, nearly 150,000 people freed by anti-slavery operations.[69]
Poland Warsaw Constitution abolishes serfdom.[70]
 Prussia The Stein-Hardenberg Reforms abolish serfdom.[70]
United States Michigan Territory Judge Augustus Woodward denies the return of two slaves owned by a man in Windsor, Upper Canada. Woodward declares that any man "coming into this Territory is by law of the land a freeman."[71]
1808  United States Importation and exportation of slaves made a crime.[72]
Bandera de la Nueva España.svg
New Spain
Independence leader Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla demands the abolition of slavery.
1811  United Kingdom Slave trading made a felony punishable by transportation for both British subjects and foreigners.
 Spain The Cádiz Cortes abolish the last remaining seigneurial rights.[43]
Flag of the British East India Company (1801).svg
East India Company
The Company issued regulations 10 of 1811, prohibiting the transport of slaves into Company territory, adding to the 1774 restrictions.[46]
 Chile The First National Congress approves a proposal of Manuel de Salas that declares Freedom of Wombs, freeing the children of slaves born in Chilean territory, regardless of their parents' condition. The slave trade is banned and the slaves who stay for more than six months in Chilean territory are automatically declared freedmen.
1812  Spain The Cádiz Constitution gives citizenship and equal rights to all residents in Spain and her territories, excluding slaves. Deputies José Miguel Guridi y Alcocer and Agustín Argüelles argue for the abolition of slavery unsuccessfully.[43]
Bandera de la Nueva España.svg
New Spain
Independence leader José María Morelos y Pavón declares slavery abolished in the documents Sentimientos de la Nación.
Flag of Belgrano (1812).svg
La Plata
Law of Wombs passed by the Assembly of Year XIII. Slaves born after 31 January 1813 will be granted freedom when they are married, or on their 16th birthday for women and 20th for men, and upon their manumission will be given land and tools to work it.[73]
Flag of Belgrano (1812).svg
La Plata
After the occupation of Montevideo, all slaves born in modern Uruguayan territory are declared free.
 Netherlands Slave trade abolished.
1815  Portugal Slave trade banned north of the Equator in return for a £750,000 payment by Britain.[74]
Spain Florida British withdrawing after the War of 1812 leave a fully armed fort in the hands of maroons, escaped slaves and their descendants, and their Seminole allies. Becomes known as Negro Fort.
 United Kingdom
Swedish and Norwegian merchant flag 1818-1844.svg
Austria Austria
The Congress of Vienna declares its opposition to slavery.[75]
Eestimaa värvid.svg
Serfdom abolished.
Spain Florida Negro Fort destroyed in the Battle of Negro Fort by U.S. forces under the command of General Andrew Jackson.
Ottoman Empire Algeria Algiers bombarded by the British and Dutch navies in an attempt to end North African piracy and slave raiding in the Mediterranean. 3,000 slaves freed.
Flag of the Courland Governorate.svg
Serfdom abolished.
 Spain Ferdinand VII signs a cedula banning the importation of slaves in Spanish possessions beginning in 1820,[43] in return for a £400,000 payment from Britain.[74] However, some slaves are still smuggled in after this date. Both slave ownership and internal commerce in slaves remained legal.
Bandera de Angostura (20 de noviembre de 1817).svg
Simon Bolivar calls for the abolition of slavery.[43]
Flag of New York (1778–1901).svg
New York
4 July 1827 set as date to free all ex-slaves from indenture.[76]
Flag of Argentina (alternative).svg
La Plata
Constitution supports the abolition of slavery, but does not ban it.[43]
1818  United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
 France Slave trade banned.
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty taking additional measures to enforce the 1814 ban on slave trading.[77]
Livonian colours.svg
Serfdom abolished.
United Kingdom Upper Canada Attorney-General John Robinson declares all black residents free.
 Hawaii The ancient Hawaiian kapu system is abolished during the ʻAi Noa, and with it the distinction between the kauwā slave class and the makaʻāinana (commoners).[78]
1820  United States The Compromise of 1820 bans slavery north of the 36º 30' line; the Act to Protect the Commerce of the United States and Punish the Crime of Piracy is amended to consider the maritime slave trade as piracy, making it punishable with death.
The supreme court orders almost all slaves in the state to be freed in Polly v. Lasselle.
 Spain The 1817 abolition of the slave trade takes effect.[79]
Flag of the Three Guarantees.svg
The Plan of Iguala frees the slaves born in Mexico.[43]
 United States
In accordance with Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, Florida becomes a territory of the United States. A main reason was Spain's inability or unwillingness to capture and return escaped slaves.
Flag of Peru (1821-1822).svg
Abolition of slave trade and implementation of a plan to gradually end slavery.[43]
 Gran Colombia Emancipation for sons and daughters born to slave mothers, program for compensated emancipation set.[80]
1822 Haiti Haiti Jean Pierre Boyer annexes Spanish Haiti and abolishes slavery there.
United States Liberia Founded by the American Colonization Society as a colony for emancipated slaves.
1823  Chile Slavery abolished.[48]
 United Kingdom The Anti-Slavery Society is founded.
1824  Mexico The new constitution effectively abolishes slavery.
Flag of the Federal Republic of Central America.svg
Central America
Slavery abolished.
Flag of the Treinta y Tres.svg
Importation of slaves banned.
Haiti Haiti France, with warships at the ready, demanded Haiti compensate France for its loss of slaves and its slave colony
1827  United Kingdom
Swedish and Norwegian merchant flag 1818-1844.svg
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
Flag of New York (1778–1901).svg
New York
Last vestiges of slavery abolished. Children born between 1799 and 1827 are indentured until age 25 (females) or age 28 (males).[81]
1828  Illinois In Phoebe v. Jay, the Illinois Supreme Court rules that indentured servants in Illinois cannot be treated as chattel and bequeathing them by will is illegal.[82]
1829  Mexico Last slaves freed just as the first president of partial African ancestry (Vicente Guerrero) is elected.[48]


Date Jurisdiction Description
Flag of Coahuila y Tejas.svg
Coahuila y Tejas
Mexican President Anastasio Bustamante attempts to implement the abolition of slavery. To circumvent the law, Anglo-Texans declare their slaves "indentured servants for life."[83]
1830  Uruguay Slavery abolished.
 Ottoman Empire Mahmud II issues a firman freeing all white slaves.
Flag of Bolivia (state, 1826-1851).svg
Slavery abolished.[48]
Empire of Brazil Brazil Law of 7 November 1831, abolishing the maritime slave trade, banning any importation of slaves, and granting freedom to slaves illegally imported into Brazil. The law was seldom enforced prior to 1850, when Brazil, under British pressure, adopted additional legislation to criminalize the importation of slaves.
Flag of Greece (1822-1978).svg
Slavery abolished with independence.
1834  United Kingdom The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 comes into force, abolishing slavery throughout most of the British Empire but on a gradual basis over the next six years.[84] Legally frees 700,000 in the West Indies, 20,000 in Mauritius, and 40,000 in South Africa. The exceptions are the territories controlled by the East India Company and Ceylon.[85]
 France French Society for the Abolition of Slavery founded in Paris.[86]
1835  Serbia Freedom granted to all slaves in the moment they step on Serb soil.[87]
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
 Peru A decree of Felipe Santiago Salaverry re-legalizes the importation of slaves from other Latin American countries. The line "no slave shall enter Peru without becoming free" is taken out of the Constitution in 1839.[88]
1836  Portugal Prime Minister Sá da Bandeira bans the transatlantic slave trade and the importation and exportation of slaves from, or to the Portuguese colonies south of the equator.
Flag of the Republic of Texas (1836–1839).svg
Slavery made legal again with independence.
1837  Spain Slavery abolished outside of the colonies.[43]
1838  United Kingdom All slaves in the colonies become free after a period of forced apprenticeship following the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.
1839  United Kingdom The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (today known as Anti-Slavery International) replaces the Anti-Slavery Society.
Flag of the British East India Company (1801).svg
East India Company
The Indian indenture system is abolished in territories controlled by the Company, but this is reversed in 1842.
Papal States Catholic Church Pope Gregory XVI's In supremo apostolatus resoundingly condemns slavery and the slave trade.
1840  United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.
 United Kingdom First World Anti-Slavery Convention meets in London.
1841  United Kingdom
Austrian Empire Austria
Quintuple Treaty agreeing to suppress the slave trade.[48]
 United States United States v. The Amistad finds that the slaves of La Amistad were illegally enslaved and were legally allowed, as free men, to fight their captors by any means necessary.
1842  United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty extending the enforcement of the slave trade ban to Portuguese ships south of the Equator.
 Paraguay Law for the gradual abolition of slavery passed.[43]
Flag of the British East India Company (1801).svg
East India Company
The Indian Slavery Act, 1843, Act V abolishes slavery in territories controlled by the Company.
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
 United Kingdom
Flag of Bolivia (state, 1826-1851).svg
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
1844  Moldavia Mihail Sturdza abolishes slavery in Moldavia.
1845  United Kingdom 36 Royal Navy ships assigned to the Anti-Slavery Squadron, making it one of the largest fleets in the world.
Seal of Illinois.svg
In Jarrot v. Jarrot, the Illinois Supreme Court frees the last indentured ex-slaves in the state who were born after the Northwest Ordinance.[82]
1846  Tunisia Ahmad I ibn Mustafa abolishes the slave trade under British pressure[citation needed], but this is later reversed by his successor, Muhammad II ibn al-Husayn.[failed verification][89]
1847  Ottoman Empire Slave trade from Africa abolished.[90]
Swedish civil ensign (1844–1905).svg
Saint Barthélemy
Last slaves freed.[91]
 Pennsylvania The last indentured ex-slaves, born before 1780 (fewer than 100 in the 1840 census[92]) are freed.
1848 Austrian Empire Austria Serfdom abolished.[93][94][95]
 France Slavery abolished in the colonies. Gabon is founded as a settlement for emancipated slaves.
Denmark Danish West Indies Slavery abolished.[48][91]
 United Kingdom
Muscat and Oman Muscat and Oman
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
1849  United Kingdom
 Trucial States
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
Coat of Arms of Cecil Calvert.svg
Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Dorchester County.
United Kingdom Sierra Leone The Royal Navy destroys the slave factory of Lomboko.


Date Jurisdiction Description
1850  United States The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 requires the return of escaped slaves to their owners regardless of the state they are in.
Empire of Brazil Brazil Eusébio de Queiróz Act (Law 581 of 4 September 1850) criminalizing the maritime slave trade as piracy, and imposing other criminal sanctions on the importation of slaves (already banned in 1831).
1851 Empire of Brazil Brazil


Bilateral treaty of October 12, Uruguay accepts returning to Brazil the escaped slaves from that country. Brazilians who owned land in Uruguay were allowed to have slaves in their properties.
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Banner.svg
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom
Slavery abolished along with opium, gambling, tobacco, alcohol, polygamy, prostitution and foot binding.[96][97][98]
Flag of New Granada.svg
New Granada
Slavery abolished.[80]
 Ecuador Slavery abolished.[99]
Lagos Reduction of Lagos: The British attack the city and replace King Kosoko with Akitoye because of the former's refusal to ban the slave trade.
1852 Hawaii Hawaii 1852 Constitution made slavery official declared illegal.[100]
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty banning the slave trade and human sacrifice.
1853 Argentine Confederation Argentina Slavery abolished.[101]
1854  Peru Slavery abolished.[48]
 Venezuela Slavery abolished.[48][80]
 Ottoman Empire Trade of Circassian children banned.[citation needed]
1855  Moldavia Slavery abolished.
1856  Wallachia Slavery abolished.
1857  United States Dred Scott v. Sanford rules that black slaves and their descendants cannot gain American citizenship and that slaves are not entitled to freedom even if they live in a free state for years.
Flag of Egypt (1844-1867).svg
Firman banning the trade of Black African (Zanj) slaves.[citation needed]
1858  Ottoman Empire Zanj slave trade banned in the Middle East, Balkans and Cyprus.[citation needed]
1859 Atlantic Ocean Definitive suppression of the transatlantic slave trade.
 United States The Wyandotte Constitution establishes the future state of Kansas as a free state, after four years of armed conflict between pro-slavery and anti-slavery groups in the territory. Southern dominance in the Senate of the United States delays the admission of Kansas as a state until 1861.
 Russia Kazakhs banned from having slaves, although slavery persists in some areas through the rest of the century.[102][better source needed]
1860 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland British Raj Indian indenture system abolished.
 United States Last slave ship to unload illegally on U.S. territory, the Clotilda.
1861  Russia The Emancipation reform of 1861 abolishes serfdom.[103]
 United States The election of Abraham Lincoln leads to the attempted secession of several slaveholding states and the American Civil War.
1862  United States
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade (African Slave Trade Treaty Act).[77]
Spain Cuba Slave trade abolished.[48]
 United States Nathaniel Gordon becomes the only person hanged in U.S. history "for being engaged in the slave trade".
1863  Netherlands Slavery abolished in the colonies, emancipating 33,000 slaves in Surinam, 12,000 in the Dutch Antilles,[104] and an indeterminate number in Indonesia.
 United States Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in Confederate-controlled areas. Most slaves in "border states" are freed by state action, and a separate law frees the slaves in Washington, D.C.
Military ensign of Vistula Flotilla of Congress Poland.svg
Serfdom abolished.[105]
1865  United States Slavery abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, excluding convicted criminals. It affects 40,000 remaining slaves.[106]
 Spain Spanish Abolitionist Society founded in Madrid by Julio Vizcarrondo, José Julián Acosta and Joaquín Sanromá.[43]
1866 United States Indian Territory Slavery abolished.[107] The United States government treaties with the Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Muscogee Nation and Seminole Nation required all 5 nations abolish slavery for their governments to be recognized by the Union government post 1865.
1867  Spain Law of Repression and Punishment of the Slave Trade.[43]
 United States Peonage Act of 1867, mostly targeting use of Native American peons in New Mexico Territory. Slavery among natives tribes in Alaska was abolished after the purchase from Russia in 1867.[108]
1868 Spain Cuba Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and other independence leaders free their slaves and proclaim the independence of Cuba, starting the Ten Years War.
1869  Portugal Louis I abolishes slavery in all Portuguese territories and colonies.
1870  Spain Amidst great opposition from the Cuban and Puerto Rican planters, Segismundo Moret drafts a "Law of Free Wombs" that frees the children of slaves, the slaves older than 65 years, and the slaves serving in the Spanish Army, beginning in 1872.[43]
1871 Empire of Brazil Brazil Rio Branco Law (Law of Free Birth) makes the children born to slave mothers free.[109]
 Ottoman Empire Slave trade criminalized.[citation needed]
PR Flag of 1873.jpg
Puerto Rico
Slavery abolished.
 United Kingdom
Flag of the Sultanate of Zanzibar.svg
Merina Kingdom flag.svg
Triple treaty abolishing the slave trade.[77]
1874  Gold Coast Slavery abolished.[110]
1879 Bulgaria Bulgaria Slavery abolished with independence. The Constitution states that any slave that enters Bulgarian territory is immediately freed.
1882  Ottoman Empire A firman emancipates all slaves, white and black.[111]
1884  Cambodia Slavery abolished.
1885 Empire of Brazil Brazil Sexagenarians Law (a.k.a. Saraiva-Cotegipe Act) passed, freeing all slaves over the age of 60 and creating other measures for the gradual abolition of slavery, such as a Manumissions Fund administered by the State.
1886 Spain Cuba Slavery abolished.[48]
1888 Empire of Brazil Brazil Golden Law decreeing the total abolition of slavery with immediate effect, without indemnities to slave owners, but the financial aid to the freedmen planned by the monarchy never takes place due to the 15 November 1889 military coup that establishes a Republic in the country.[112]
1889 Kingdom of Italy Italy An Italian court finds that Josephine Bakhita was never legally enslaved according to Italian, British or Egyptian law and is a free woman.
1890  United Kingdom
Germany Germany
Congo Free State Congo
Kingdom of Italy Italy
Union Jack of Sweden and Norway (1844-1905).svg
 United States
 Ottoman Empire
Flag of the Sultanate of Zanzibar.svg
Tricolour Flag of Iran (1886).svg
Brussels Conference Act – a collection of anti-slavery measures to put an end to the slave trade on land and sea, especially in the Congo Basin, the Ottoman Empire, and the East African coast.
1894 Korean Empire Korea Slavery abolished, but it survives in practice until 1930.[113]
1895 Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan is annexed by Japan, where slavery has been abolished
Flag of Muhammad Ali.svg
Slavery abolished.[114]
 Italian Somaliland First slaves freed[115]
Flag of the Madagascar Protectorate (1885-1896).svg
Slavery abolished.
Flag of Zanzibar Under British Rule.svg
Slavery abolished.[116]
Thailand Siam Slave trade abolished.[117]
Ottoman Empire Bassora Children of freedmen issued separate certificates of liberation to avoid enslavement and separation from their parents.[citation needed]
1899 France Ndzuwani Slavery abolished.


Date Jurisdiction Description
1900 United States Guam Slavery abolished February 22, 1900, by proclamation of Richard P. Leary.[118]
1902  Cameroon Gradual abolition of slavery[119]
1903  French Sudan "Slave" no longer used as an administrative category.
1904  United Kingdom
Kingdom of Italy Italy
International Agreement for the suppression of the White Slave Traffic signed in Paris. Only France, the Netherlands and Russia extend the treaty to the whole extent of their colonial empires with immediate effect, and Italy extends it to Eritrea but not to Italian Somaliland.[120]
 Kenya Slavery abolished[121]
1905  French West Africa Slavery formally abolished. Though up to one million slaves gain their freedom, slavery continues to exist in practice for decades afterward.
1906  Qing Dynasty Slavery abolished beginning in 31 January 1910. Adult slaves are converted into hired laborers and the minors freed upon reaching age 25.[122]
 Barotseland (modern Zambia) Slavery abolished[123]
1908  Ottoman Empire The Young Turk Revolution eradicates the open trade of Zanj and Circassian women from Constantinople.[124][better source needed]
1912 Thailand Siam Slavery abolished.[117]
1915 Malaysia British Malaya modern Malaysia) Slavery abolished.[125]
1919  Tanganyika Slavery abolished[121]
1922  Morocco Slavery abolished.[126]
1923  Afghanistan Slavery abolished.[127]
 Florida Convict lease abolished after the death of Martin Tabert, who was whipped for being too ill to work.
Flag of Hong Kong (1876–1955).svg
British Hong Kong
Slavery of Mui tsai abolished.
1924 Kingdom of Iraq Iraq Slavery abolished.[citation needed]
 Sudan Slavery abolished[128]
 League of Nations Temporary Slavery Commission appointed.
 Turkey Slavery abolished[129]
1926    Nepal Slavery abolished[130]
 League of Nations Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery.
 Burma Slavery abolished.[125]
1927  Spain 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
 United Kingdom
Nejd Nejd
Flag of Hejaz 1920.svg
Treaty of Jeddah (1927) abolishing the slave trade.
Flag of Sierra Leone (1916–1961).gif
Sierra Leone
Abolition of domestic slavery practised by local African elites.[131] Although established as a place for freed slaves, a study found practices of domestic slavery still widespread in rural areas in the 1970s.[citation needed]
 Alabama Convict lease abolished, the last state in the Union to do so.
State flag of Persia (1907–1933).svg
Slavery abolished and criminalized.[132]
1930  League of Nations Forced Labour Convention.
1935 Ethiopian Empire Ethiopia The invading Italian General Emilio De Bono claims to have abolished slavery in the Ethiopian Empire.[133]
 United States Cudjoe Lewis, the last survivor of the Clotilda and last surviving African slave imported to the United States, dies in Mobile, Alabama.
Flag of the Northern Nigeria Protectorate (1900–1914).svg
Northern Nigeria
Slavery abolished.[134]
 Bechuanaland Protectorate (modern Botswana) Slavery abolished.[135]
1937  Bahrain Slavery abolished [136]
1941  United States Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Circular 3591 abolishing all forms of convict leasing.
Merchant flag of Germany (1946–1949).svg
Occupied Germany
Fritz Sauckel, Nazi official responsible for procuring forced labor in occupied Europe during World War II, is convicted of crimes against humanity and hanged.[137]
 French Sudan Beginning of large slave defections encouraged by the French Fourth Republic and the Sudanese Union – African Democratic Rally party.
1948  United Nations Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares slavery contrary to human rights.[138]
1949  Kuwait Slavery abolished [136]


Date Jurisdiction Description
1952  Qatar Slavery abolished.[139]
1953  Australia
 New Zealand
 South Africa
 United Kingdom
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1954  Afghanistan
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1955  Ecuador
Kingdom of Greece Greece
Kingdom of Iraq Iraq
 Republic of China
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1956  United Nations Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery.
Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic Byelorussia[140]
 Soviet Union
United States United States
 South Vietnam
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1957  United Nations The Abolition of Forced Labour Convention eliminates some exceptions admitted in the 1930 Forced Labour Convention.
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1958  Bhutan Slavery abolished.[citation needed]
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1959  Jordan
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic Ukraine[141]
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1960  Niger Slavery abolished.[142]
 Mali First president Modibo Keita makes the effective abolition of slavery a prominent goal of the government. However, his efforts are largely abandoned during the dictatorship of Moussa Traoré (1968–1991).
1961  Ireland
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1962  Saudi Arabia Slavery abolished.[139]
 North Yemen Slavery abolished.[139]
 Sierra Leone
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1963  Algeria
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1964  Trucial States Slavery abolished.[citation needed]
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1965  Malawi 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1966  Brazil
 Trinidad and Tobago
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1967  South Yemen Slavery abolished[143]
1968  Mongolia 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1969 Ethiopian Empire Ethiopia
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1970  Oman Slavery abolished.[144]
1972  Fiji 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1973  West Germany
 Saudi Arabia
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1974  Lesotho 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1976  Bahamas
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1981  Mauritania Slavery abolished.[145][146][147]
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
 Solomon Islands
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1982  Papua New Guinea 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1983  Bolivia
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1984  Cameroon 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1985  Bangladesh 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1986  Cyprus
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1987  North Yemen 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1990  Bahrain
 Saint Lucia
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1992  Croatia 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1993  Bosnia and Herzegovina 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1994  Dominica 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1995  Chile 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1996  Azerbaijan 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1997  Kyrgyzstan
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1998  Ghana Forced ritual servitude of girls in Ewe shrines banned.
2001  Serbia and Montenegro
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
2003  Niger Slavery criminalized.[142]
2006  Montenegro 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
 Mali Temedt, an organization against slavery and the discrimination of former slaves, is founded in Essakane.
2007  Mauritania Slavery criminalized.[148]
 Paraguay 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
2008  Kazakhstan 1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
2009  United Kingdom Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.[149]
2010  Western Sahara Slavery criminalized[150]
2015  United Kingdom Modern Slavery Act 2015.[151]
Navajo flag.svg
Navajo Nation
Criminalization of Human trafficking[152]
 Chad Slavery criminalized[153]
2018  Colorado Prison exception removed from Colorado's constitutional ban on slavery[154]
Present Worldwide Although slavery is now abolished de jure in all countries,[155][156] de facto practices akin to it continue today in many places throughout the world.[157][158][159][160]

See also


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Further reading

  • Bales, Kevin. "Disposable People" (University of California Press, 2012)
  • Campbell, Gwyn. The Structure of Slavery in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia (Frank Cass, 2004)
  • Drescher, Seymour. Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery (Cambridge University Press, 2009)
  • Finkelman, Paul, and Joseph Miller, eds. Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Slavery (2 vol 1998)
  • Gordon, M. Slavery in the Arab World (1989)
  • Hinks, Peter, and John McKivigan, eds. Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition (2 vol. 2007) 795pp; ISBN 978-0-313-33142-8
  • Lovejoy, Paul. Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa (Cambridge UP, 1983)
  • Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America (2008)
  • Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery (1997)
  • Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World (2007)
  • Psychiatric Slavery by psychiatrist Thomas Szasz

External links

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