Regulating the African Slave Trade

Civil War History, Vol. 54, 2008

27 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009

See all articles by Paul Finkelman

Paul Finkelman

Gratz College; Albany Law School

Date Written: 2008


This article is an examination of the United States’ regulation and withdrawal from the African slave trade. The Federal government voluntarily banned the import of new slaves after January 1, 1808 by legislative enactment which found its roots in a series of regulations beginning in the colonial period. Limitations on the African slave trade began at the state level and strengthened with successive legislative enactments to the eventual ban on the legal import of slaves all together by 1808. Later legislation made enforcement of the 1807 Act more profitable to prevent the importation of slaves than to smuggle them into the United States and caused a dramatic decrease in the numbers of illegal African slaves and after 1820 slave importation was deemed a moral wrong and those caught in the act were to be hanged.

Keywords: African, slave trade

Suggested Citation

Finkelman, Paul, Regulating the African Slave Trade (2008). Civil War History, Vol. 54, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Paul Finkelman (Contact Author)

Gratz College ( email )

7605 Old York Road
Melrose Park, PA 19027
United States

Albany Law School

United States

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