The slave trade began in America as early as the 16th century. The so-called Atlantic triangle trade was a real system of slave and goods trade. Africans were brought across the Atlantic to North America or the Caribbean.
Atlantic slave trade
It was Europeans who owned most of the ships and sailed to the coast of Africa. There they exchanged European goods, such as B. Tools or textiles against Africans. They were brought to India as slaves to work on plantations. In India, on the other hand, Africans were exchanged for goods such as tobacco, spices and, above all, sugar, which were sold at a profit in Europe.
The slave trade was thus a decisive economic factor for the colonial powers. The number of slaves in the British West Indies exceeded half a million in 1790 and was even higher in the French-ruled West Indies. The Netherlands, Spain and Denmark had no fewer slaves.
There were numerous slaves in the agriculture. However, the harsh conditions quickly decimated the number, so that new slaves were always required. In 200 years the British tore around 1.7 million people from their homeland in this way.
Great Britain owned the profitable West Indian colonies in 1800, where sugar was produced in large quantities. The English quickly became the largest sugar producers and consumers. Everyday life could not be imagined without it, like many other goods that were manufactured in the colonies.
The abolition of the slave trade
FRANZ DANIEL PASTORIUS drafted the first petition against the slave trade and slavery in North America as early as 1688.
But it was only much later that the slave trade was banned. Both economic and moral aspects played a role. The Quakers in England despised the slave trade and made use of their parliamentary strength in combating it. WILLIAM WILBERFORCE and WILLIAM PITT campaigned against slavery. In 1789, both of them applied for the abolition of the slave trade, but this application was not granted until 3 years later. Finally, in 1807, a new law was adopted, which was passed and entered into force on January 18, 1808.
The British wanted to prohibit the other countries from the slave trade for fear of economic disadvantage. However, massive resistance came from France, Spain, Portugal and Brazil. The English were no less intransigent. With substantial sanctions they brought the neighboring states to their knees. Great Britain controlled every offense through police surveillance. The Royal British Navy was empowered to stop and arrest all ships sailing as possible slave carriers.
France resisted this interference most violently and continued to trade in slaves on the black market for some time until it actually came to an end in 1848.
The king can do no wrong. The monarch cannot be held responsible for his actions. The crown finds its real task in the symbolic embodiment of the nation and its historical continuity. Although the monarch has a comprehensive right of consultation and enjoys full access to files in all government affairs, he primarily performs representational tasks. He is also responsible for, among other things
- the nominal supreme command of the armed forces,
- the appointment of the Prime Minister,
- the dissolution of Parliament on the proposal of the Prime Minister,
- reading of the annual speech from the throne, which is drafted by the Prime Minister as a government program,
- as well as the formal signature of all laws passed by parliament.
A royal veto on a bill was last lodged in 1707.
The role of the monarch
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a parliamentary-democratic hereditary monarchy. As the British head of state (since 1952: ELISABETH II), the monarch is at the same time head of the Commonwealth of Nations and secular head of the Anglican Church (Church of England) to which he must belong. The monarch’s political participation rights are very limited today. He cannot be held responsible for his actions.
The House of Lords
The legislature lies with the monarch and the bicameral parliament, consisting of
- the House of Lords
- and the House of Commons.
Following a fundamental principle of British constitutional life, Parliament enjoys absolute sovereignty. Citizens and state authorities have to submit to his decisions.
The House of Lords has 687 members:
- 92 holders of hereditary peers,
- 571 members raised to the nobility for life (including the lord judges) on the proposal of the government (as an award for special merits)
- and 24 Acting Bishops of the Anglican Church.
Until the reform of the House of Lords in 1999, the members of the hereditary nobility (more than 750 people in 1999) had the right to a seat and vote in the House of Lords. This hereditary privilege, which was disputed in public due to “lack of democratic legitimacy”, was abolished by the parliamentary reform in November 1999, in which the aim was to reduce the number of seats in the upper house to 635. For a transition period, however, there will still be 92 members of the House of Lords with inheritance privileges. The chairman and speaker was the Lord Chancellor (Lord Chancellor) until 2003 . He was a member of the cabinet and was responsible for appointing certain judges.
The reforms affecting the House of Lords have resulted in the new Minister for Constitutional Affairs being responsible for the administration of justice. The Lord Chief Justice – separate from the House of Lords – will form the core of a new Supreme Court, the members of which will be appointed on the proposal of an independent commission. Like the House of Commons, the House of Lords should have a speaker who does not belong to the executive branch.
The House of Lords’ rights to participate in legislation are limited and essentially limited to four areas:
- Initiation of legislative proposals,
- Review and revision of those bills that have been submitted to him,
- the right to block draft laws – with the exception of those that affect the state budget – for up to one year (suspensive veto right),
- Discussion of particularly important political problems that the House of Commons cannot deal with due to deadlines.