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Bicentenary of Abolition of Slavery

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People hosted commemorative events in 2008 as well as exhibitions and also sponsored sporting events to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade. Find out how schools and universities marked the bicentenary and discover some of the very best online resources for teachers and students alike.

How was it marked?

Culture Minister David Lammy MP said goodbye to the Freedom Schooner Amistad in June 2007 as it set off on a historic sixteen-month transatlantic voyage to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the UK and next year in the America.

Lammy was in New Haven, Connecticut, USA to present and sign a replica of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807 to the ship’s crew, which involves five British students from the former slave ports of Bristol, London and Liverpool. This act which was pushed through by anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce will be signed by supporters at each of the harbours it goes to on its Atlantic Freedom Tour.

David Lammy MP said, “In this Bicentenary year, I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to represent the British Government in New Haven and present a copy of our 1807 Abolition Act as the Amistad sets off on its epic voyage across the Atlantic.’

“I hope its message of freedom, equality and human rights will enthuse and engage people of all ages and background at all 18 points of its tour.”

Bicentenary of Abolition of Slavery

For the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade act, the Arts Council England commissioned original work and launched a competition to discover new poetry on the topic of enslavement. Eleven different poets were welcomed to commemorate the important date of the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act with original verse. A twelfth poem will be discovered through a national contest on the Arts Council website.

The transcribed abolition petitions will beon www.parliament.uk/slavetrade, a great website about Parliament's complex association with the British Slave Trade.

Historical document

To mark the bicentary of the 1807 Act to Abolish the British Slave Trade, the Parliamentary Archives have allowed a transcribed version of the greatest lasting parliamentary anti-slave trade petition to become accessible as a document over five-metres long - which was sent from Manchester in the early nineteenth century.

In just four weeks the documents on the site have been accessed nearly 24,000 times. The Manchester anti-slave trade document holds over 2000 names and was copied by volunteers from the Manchester and Lancashire History Society.

We have been stunned by the response from members of the public to these documents, according to David Prior of the Parliamentary Archives. It indicates that there is a real interest in archival documents and by using original technology we can make them very accessible to thousands of people, all over the world.

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