Yes, indeed, the British Government did compensate slave owners when they abolished colonial slavery. Damn good thing they did too.
For it was the thing which got slavery abolished. Without the compensation it’s extremely doubtful that it would have passed: and it certainly wouldn’t have passed when it did.
The true scale of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade has been laid bare in documents revealing how the country’s wealthiest families received the modern equivalent of billions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished.
The previously unseen records show exactly who received what in payouts from the Government when slave ownership was abolished by Britain
Think through the flow of money for a moment. At the time the British State was largely supported by two sets of taxes. Those on the rich and those on commodities like, erm, tea, sugar and tobacco. The products, largely so, of that slave economy. The Government borrows money which it pays to free the slaves. It then collects the money again in taxes either from the rich or from those who use the products of that now ex-slave economy. And the original borrowing was largely from the sort of rich people who owned slaves anyway.
In the meantime, the slaves are free. Sounds like a reasonable enough plan to me.
And there’s one truly terrible statistical fault here:
The British government paid out £20m to compensate some 3,000 families that owned slaves for the loss of their “property” when slave-ownership was abolished in Britain’s colonies in 1833. This figure represented a staggering 40 per cent of the Treasury’s annual spending budget and, in today’s terms, calculated as wage values, equates to around £16.5bn.
“Wage values”, eh? So we’ll take the highest possible measure of inflation over that period to use as our comparator, eh? Using a more standard CPI stylee measurement it would amount to some £1.4 billion in today’s money. And all of the various amounts received by the various families should be reduced by the same proportion.
And finally, what is perhaps really important here.
Britain spent more in the years 1807 to the 1930s in the suppression of slavery than it earned in the profits from the slavery before that.
Finally finally: did slavery exist? Yup. Was it a bad thing? Yup. Did our forefathers abolish it? Yup. Good, eh?