Pax Britannica pp 165-188 | Cite as

Anti-Slavery: West Africa and the Americas

  • Barry Gough
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


Pax brought the gift of peace in places that were accustomed to war but it itself called for the use of force. Africa, a continent of many societies and peoples, posed special problems in certain locales, for it was a place of warlords, and slaves were property captured in war. Whole kingdoms arose from the human pillage. Traffic in slaves by slave-hunters “fermented tribal warfare, destroyed native African culture and agriculture, dispersed peaceful communities, caused unimaginable suffering, destroyed natural immunity to disease and rendered refugees vulnerable to infections they had not previously encountered”.1 It fell to the Navy, as servant of the state, to quell the traffic at sea and on the coasts. This was a central feature of Pax. Pax was a latter-day consideration in the long history of the African continent, and it had a short life, for once the policing duties of the Navy and the diplomatic pressures brought by the Foreign Office, and even colonial governors ashore, came to an end, control of African societies and principalities passed to other hands. While it lasted, it was a gallant and altruistic attempt to establish freedoms, promote human liberty, and release thousands from bondage ashore and afloat.


Niger Delta Slave Trade Moral Suasion Naval Force Slave Ship 
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© Barry Gough 2014

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  • Barry Gough

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