Anti-slavery sugar bowl, late 1700s-early 1800s

<P>Many British people refused to buy sugar during the campaign against slavery in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Most sugar was produced by African slaves in the Caribbean. It’s estimated that between 300 000 and 400 000 British people refused to buy sugar.</P>
<P>This bowl’s message is that people should buy sugar from India – then known as East India – instead. Indian sugar was not made by slaves. Every time this bowl was refilled with sugar, its owner would have been reminded of this.</P>
<P>Africans were forced to work as slaves on sugar plantations in the Caribbean from the 1500s. Many of these plantations were owned by Europeans. Much of the sugar produced ended up on British tea tables. Britain grew rich on the profits of the slave trade, which funded rapid industrial development.</P>
<P>Public opinion began to turn against slavery from the 1700s. British people stopped buying sugar after the Government failed to pass the Abolition of the Slave Trade Bill in 1791.</P>
<P>The public’s refusal to buy sugar produced by slaves was one of the first national boycotts in British history. Many people were unhappy that they were supporting slavery by buying sugar produced on Caribbean plantations. British people had a very sweet tooth, so boycotting sugar showed how strongly they felt about slavery.</P>
<P>A wide range of people boycotted sugar, particularly women. Women weren’t allowed to vote, but they could show how they felt through their choice of products. Some people today refuse to buy certain foods or clothes because they believe the workers making them are being exploited.</P>
<P>The British slave trade was finally abolished by the Government in 1807. The reasons for this have been hotly debated. Some think that competition from Cuba and Brazil led to the decline of sugar production in the Caribbean. Others believe that resistance to slavery and the abolition campaign were the main factors in turning public opinion against slavery.</P>