Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History

First Advisor

Ronald M Gifford

Second Advisor

Ross A Kennedy


This thesis will explore the US commitment to the destruction of the international slave trade following its abolition in 1808, studying its impact on US sovereignty, the coming of the Civil War, and abolitionism. Long ignored by historians, the United States’ attempts from 1808 to 1862 to abolish the illegal international trade in slaves has the potential to change the historiographical understanding of abolitionism in the antebellum period. Slavery was not eradicated overnight, a fact that we accept unquestioningly; but neither was the international slave trade. The parallel evolution of abolitionism on the one hand combined with diplomatic, legal, and antislavery mechanisms related to the slave trade on the other ultimately created the necessary elements for the institution’s eventual abolition altogether. Ignoring attempts to stop the international slave trade has obscured the complexity of abolitionism in the United States. Emphasizing the United States’ commitment to slave-trade suppression means to complicate the picture of an entirely acquiescent US government, which served as the slavocracy’s puppet, and demonstrates that, in the end, the Revolution’s abolitionist promise was fulfilled.


Imported from Nalefski_ilstu_0092N_11996.pdf


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