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File:An Act Against Slavery.jpg

The text of "An Act Against Slavery".

The Act Against Slavery was an anti-slavery law passed on July 9, 1793, in the first legislative session of Upper Canada, the colonial division of British North America that would eventually become Ontario.[1]

John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of the colony, had been a supporter of abolition before coming to Upper Canada; as a British Member of Parliament, he had described slavery as an offence against Christianity.[2][3]

At the inaugural meeting of the Executive Council of Upper Canada in March 1793, Simcoe heard from a witness the story of Chloe Cooley, a female slave who had been violently removed from Canada for sale in the United States. Simcoe's desire to abolish slavery in Upper Canada was resisted by members of the Legislative Assembly who owned slaves, and therefore the resulting act was a compromise.[2]

The law, titled An Act to Prevent the further Introduction of Slaves and to limit the Term of Contracts for Servitude within this Province, stated that while all slaves in the province would remain enslaved until death, that no new slaves could be brought into Upper Canada, and that children born to female slaves would be freed at age 25.[4]

This law made Upper Canada "the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to pass a law freeing slaves".[5] The Act remained in force until 1833 when the British Parliament's Slavery Abolition Act abolished slavery in most parts of the British Empire.

Aftermath

In 1798, Christopher Robinson introduced a bill in the Legislative Assembly to allow the importation of additional slaves. The bill was passed by the Assembly, but was stalled by the Legislative Council and died at the end of the session.[3]

Thousands of Black Africans volunteered to serve in the War of 1812 but only if they got $100,000. In 1819, Attorney General John Robinson declared that by residing in Canada, black residents were set free, and that Canadian courts would protect their freedom.[6][7]

References

See also

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