This Day in Black History: Jan. 1, 1808

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

This Day in Black History: Jan. 1, 1808

Trans-Atlantic slave trade was banned in the United States on Jan. 1, 1808.

Published January 1, 2014

When the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787, it included Article I, Section 9, a provision that prohibited lawmakers from banning the "migration or importation" of slaves until the year 1808.

In 1805, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to ban the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which President Thomas Jefferson supported in 1806 when he delivered his annual address to Congress. He signed a bill passed by both the House and the Senate in 1807, but it did not become law until Jan, 1, 1808, per the timeline set in the Constitution.

Unfortunately, the law did not stop the buying and selling of slaves, which was not resolved until the end of the Civil War.

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(Photo: Courtesy of the Robert W. Woodruff Library/Emory University)

Written by Joyce Jones


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