Connect with us
Financial Press


In One Chart: As statue of U.K. slave trader is toppled, these charts show big impact of slavery on British economy

In One Chart

Protesters throw a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbor, during a Black Lives Matter protest rally, in Bristol, England, on June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis that has led to protests worldwide.

Associated Press

Britain’s role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade came into focus in the U.K. after a statue of a 17th-century slave trader was torn down by protesters.

The statue of Edward Colston, who also was a sugar trader and philanthropist, was torn down on Sunday in Bristol, amid the now-global protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The act was carried on the front pages of Britain’s top newspapers and drew condemnation from U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel as well as criticism from the new Labour Party leader, Keir Starmer.

A blog maintained by a leading U.K. fund manager gives some perspective on just how big a role Britain played.

The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 freed 800,000 Africans who were legally property of U.K. owners. It also provided a bailout to those slaveholders.

Anthony Doyle, then of M&G and now of Fidelity International in Sydney, in a 2017 blog put into perspective the £20 million distribution, which represented 40% of the government’s total expenditure in 1834.

The payout can be seen in government data from the era. It caused a huge spike in inflation, as the chart shows. “The payments to British slave owners represent a helicopter drop of money into a fairly closed economy, and the impact on growth, inflation, and asset prices should be directly observable,” he said.

Proceeds of the government bailout also resulted in a big spike in investment, including railways, construction, banks, insurance and shipping, he noted. Stocks also surged.

The freed slaves were not compensated.

Written By

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles


FA Center Published: Sept. 23, 2020 at 12:29 p.m. ET To understand why small-caps stumble at year-end, follow the Wall Street (bonus) money Getty...


The Fed Published: Sept. 23, 2020 at 12:21 p.m. ET Boston Fed president concerned about second wave of COVID-19 Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren...


Well, this is unfortunate… The story you requested could not be found. To find what you’re looking for, try one of these options. MarketWatch...


While trying to buy a house this summer, I assumed our real estate options were limited to homes that were officially for sale. Well,...