Timeline of abolition of slavery and serfdom

The abolition of slavery occurred at different times in different countries. It frequently occurred sequentially in more than one stage – for example, as abolition of the trade in slaves in a specific country, and then as abolition of slavery throughout empires. Each step was usually the result of a separate law or action. This timeline shows abolition laws or actions listed chronologically. It also covers the abolition of serfdom.

Proclamation of the Abolition of Slavery in the French Colonies, 27 April 1848, 1849, by François Auguste Biard, Palace of Versailles

Although slavery is technically illegal in all countries today, the practice continues in many locations around the world, primarily in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, often with government support.[1]

Ancient times

During classical antiquity, several prominent societies in Europe and the ancient Near East regulated enslavement for debt and the related but distinct practice of debt bondage (in which a creditor could extract compulsory labor from a debtor in repayment of their debt, but the debtor was not formally enslaved and was not subject to all the conditions of chattel slavery, such as being perpetually owned, sellable on the open market, or stripped of kinship).

Reforms listed below such as the laws of Solon in Athens, the Lex Poetelia Papiria in Republican Rome, or rules set forth in the Hebrew Bible in the Book of Deuteronomy generally regulated the supply of slaves and debt-servants by forbidding or regulating the bondage of certain privileged groups (thus, the Roman reforms protected Roman citizens, the Athenian reforms protected Athenian citizens, and the rules in Deuteronomy guaranteed freedom to a Hebrew after a fixed duration of servitude), but none abolished slavery, and even what protections were instituted did not apply to foreigners or noncitizen subjects.

Date Jurisdiction Description
Early sixth century BC Polis of Athens The Athenian lawgiver Solon abolishes debt slavery of Athenian citizens and frees all Athenian citizens who had formerly been enslaved.[2][3] Athenian chattel slavery continued to be practiced, and the loss of debt-bondage as a competing source of compulsory labor may even have spurred slavery to become more important in the Athenian economy henceforth.[4]
3rd century BC Maurya EmpireIndian emperor Ashoka abolishes the slave trade and encourages people to treat slaves well.[5]
326 BC Roman Republic Lex Poetelia Papiria abolishes Nexum contracts, a form of pledging the debt bondage of poor Roman citizens to wealthy creditors as security for loans. Chattel slavery was not abolished, and Roman slavery would continue to flourish for centuries.
9–12 ADXin dynastyWang Mang, first and only emperor of the Xin dynasty, usurped the Chinese throne and instituted a series of sweeping reforms, including the abolition of slavery and radical land reform from 9–12 A.D.[6][7] However, this and other reforms turned popular and elite sentiment against Wang Mang, and slavery was reinstituted after he was killed by an angry mob in 23 A.D.

Medieval times

N.B.: Many of the listed reforms were reversed over succeeding centuries.
Date Jurisdiction Description
590–604 RomePope Gregory I bans Jews from owning Christian slaves.[8]
7th centuryFranciaQueen Balthild, a former slave, and the Council of Chalon-sur-Saône (644–655) condemn the enslavement of Christians. Balthild purchases slaves, mostly Saxon, and manumits (frees) them.[9]
741–752 RomePope Zachary bans the sale of Christian slaves to Muslims, purchases all slaves acquired in the city by Venetian traders, and sets them free.
840 Carolingian Empire
Pactum Lotharii: Venice pledges to neither buy Christian slaves in the Empire, nor sell them to Muslims. Venetian slavers switch to trading Slavs from the East.
873ChristendomPope John VIII declares the enslavement of fellow Christians a sin and commands their release.[10]
~900Byzantine EmpireEmperor Leo VI the Wise prohibits voluntary self-enslavement and commands that such contracts shall be null and void and punishable by flagellation for both parties to the contract.[11]
956 Goryeo Dynasty (Korea) Slaves were freed on a large scale in 956 by the Goryeo dynasty.[12] Gwangjong of Goryeo proclaimed the Slave and Land Act, an act that "deprived nobles of much of their manpower in the form of slaves and purged the old nobility, the meritorious subjects and their offspring and military lineages in great numbers".[13]
960 VeniceSlave trade banned in the city under the rule of Doge Pietro IV Candiano.
1080 Norman EnglandWilliam the Conqueror prohibits the sale of any person to "heathens" (non-Christians) as slaves.
1100 NormandySerfdom no longer present.[14]
1102 Norman EnglandThe Council of London bans the slave trade: "Let no one dare hereafter to engage in the infamous business, prevalent in England, of selling men like animals."[15][16]
c. 1160 NorwayThe Gulating bans the sale of house slaves out of the country.
1171 IrelandAll English slaves in the island freed by the Council of Armagh.[16]
1198 FranceTrinitarian Order founded with the purpose of redeeming war captives.
1214KorčulaThe Statute of the Town abolishes slavery.[17]
1218 AragonMercedarians founded in Barcelona with the purpose of ransoming poor Christians enslaved by Muslims.
~1220 Holy Roman EmpireThe Sachsenspiegel, the most influential German code of law from the Middle Ages, condemns slavery as a violation of man's likeness to God.[18]
1245 AragonJames I bans Jews from owning Christian slaves, but allows them to own Muslims and Pagans.[19]
1256 BolognaLiber Paradisus promulgated. Slavery and serfdom abolished, all serfs in the commune are released.
1274 NorwayLandslov (Land's Law) mentions only former slaves, implying that slavery was abolished in Norway.
1315 FranceLouis X publishes a decree abolishing slavery and proclaiming that "France signifies freedom", that any slave setting foot on French ground should be freed.[20] However some limited cases of slavery continued until the 17th century in some of France's Mediterranean harbours in Provence, as well as until the 18th century in some of France's overseas territories.[21] Most aspects of serfdom are also eliminated de facto between 1315 and 1318.[22]
1318 France King Philip V abolishes serfdom in his domain.[23]
1335 SwedenSlavery abolished (including Sweden's territory in Finland). However, slaves are not banned entry into the country until 1813.[24] In the 18th and 19th centuries, slavery was practiced in the Swedish-ruled Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy. Sweden never practiced serfdom, except in a few territories it later acquired which were ruled under a local legal code.
1347 PolandThe Statutes of Casimir the Great issued in Wiślica emancipate all non-free people.[25]
1368 Ming DynastyEmperor Hongwu abolished most forms of slavery,[6] limiting even the highest ranks of household to less than 20 household slaves. Later in the dynasty saw a resurgence of debt servitude, primarily in the south, as a result of population growth against the dearth of arable lands, often taking euphemisms like "adoption" to circumvent its still outlawed status.[26]
1416 RagusaSlavery and slave trade abolished.
1423 Poland King orders to free all Christian slaves.[27]
1435 Canary IslandsPope Eugene IV's Sicut Dudum bans enslavement of Christians in the Canary Islands on pain of excommunication.[28] However non-Christian Guanches can still be enslaved.[21]
1441  Portugal First slaves captured in Africa were brought to Portugal.[27]
1477 CastileIsabella I bans slavery in newly conquered territories.[29]
1480 GaliciaRemnant serfdom abolished by the Catholic Monarchs.[30]
1486 AragonFerdinand II promulgates the Sentence of Guadalupe, abolishing Carolingian-remnant serfdom (remença) in Old Catalonia.
1490 CastileAfter a long court case, the Catholic Monarchs order that all La Gomera natives enslaved in the aftermath of the 1488 rebellion must be freed and returned to the island at Conquistador Pedro de Vera's expense. De Vera is also relieved from his post as Governor of Gran Canaria in 1491.[31]
1493Queen Isabella bans the enslavement of Native Americans unless they are hostile or cannibalistic.[29] Native Americans are ruled to be subjects of the Crown. Columbus is preempted from selling Indian captives in Seville and those already sold are tracked, purchased from their buyers and released.


Date Jurisdiction Description
1503 CastileNative Americans allowed to travel to Spain only on their own free will.[32]
1512The Laws of Burgos establish limits to the treatment of natives in the Encomienda system.
1518 SpainDecree of Charles V establishing the importation of African slaves to the Americas, under monopoly of Laurent de Gouvenot, in an attempt to discourage enslavement of Native Americans.
1528Charles V forbids the transportation of Native Americans to Europe, even on their own will, in an effort to curtail their enslavement. Encomiendas are banned from collecting tribute in gold with the reasoning that Natives were selling their children to get it.[33]
1530Outright slavery of Native Americans under any circumstance is banned. However, forced labor under the Encomienda continues.
1536The Welser family is dispossessed of the Asiento monopoly (granted in 1528) following complaints about their treatment of Native American workers in Venezuela.
1537New WorldPope Paul III forbids slavery of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and any other population to be discovered, establishing their right to freedom and property (Sublimis Deus).[34]
1542 SpainThe New Laws ban slave raiding in the Americas and abolish the slavery of natives, but replace it with other systems of forced labor like the repartimiento. Slavery of Black Africans continues.[21] New limits are imposed to the Encomienda.
1549Encomiendas banned from using forced labor.
1550-1551Valladolid Debate on the innate rights of indigenous peoples of the Americas.
1552Bartolomé de las Casas, "the first to expose the oppression of indigenous peoples by Europeans in the Americas and to call for the abolition of slavery there."[35]
1570 PortugalKing Sebastian of Portugal bans the enslavement of Native Americans under Portuguese rule, allowing only the enslavement of hostile ones. This law was highly influenced by the Society of Jesus, which had missionaries in direct contact with Brazilian tribes.
1574 EnglandLast remaining serfs emancipated by Elizabeth I.[22]
 PhilippinesSlavery abolished by royal decree.[36]
1588 LithuaniaThe Third Statute of Lithuania abolishes slavery.[37]
1590 JapanToyotomi Hideyoshi bans slavery except as punishment for criminals.[38]
1595 PortugalTrade of Chinese slaves banned.[39]
1602 EnglandThe Clifton Star Chamber Case set a precedent, that impressing / enslaving children to serve as actors was illegal.
1609 SpainThe Moriscos, many of whom are serfs, are expelled from Peninsular Spain unless they become slaves voluntarily (known as moros cortados, "cut Moors") However, a large proportion avoid expulsion or manage to return.[40]
1624 PortugalEnslavement of Chinese banned.[41][42]
1649 RussiaThe sale of Russian slaves to Muslims is banned.[43]
1652 Providence PlantationsRoger Williams and Samuel Gorton work to pass legislation abolishing slavery in Providence Plantations, the first attempt of its kind in North America. It does not go into effect.[44]
1677 Maratha EmpireShivaji I banned, freed and stopped import and export of all slaves under his Empire.[45][46][47]
1679 RussiaFeodor III converts all Russian field slaves into serfs.[48][49]
1683 Spanish ChileSlavery of Mapuche prisoners of war abolished.[50]
1687 Spanish FloridaFugitive slaves from the Thirteen Colonies granted freedom in return for conversion to Catholicism and four years of military service.
1688 PennsylvaniaThe Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery is the first religious petition against African slavery in what would become the United States.


Date Jurisdiction Description
1706 EnglandIn Smith v. Browne & Cooper, Sir John Holt, Lord Chief Justice of England, rules that "as soon as a Negro comes into England, he becomes free. One may be a villein in England, but not a slave."[51][52]
1711-1712 ImeretiSlave trade banned by Mamia I of Imereti.
1712 SpainMoros cortados expelled.[53]
1715 North Carolina
South Carolina
Native American slave trade in the American Southeast reduces with the outbreak of the Yamasee War.
1723 RussiaPeter the Great converts all house slaves into house serfs, effectively making slavery illegal in Russia.
1723–1730 Qing DynastyThe Yongzheng emancipation seeks to free all slaves to strengthen the autocratic ruler through a kind of social leveling that creates an undifferentiated class of free subjects under the throne. Although these new regulations freed the vast majority of slaves, wealthy families continued to use slave labor into the twentieth century.[54]
1732 GeorgiaProvince established without African slavery in sharp contrast to neighboring colony of Carolina. In 1738, James Oglethorpe warns against changing that policy, which would "occasion the misery of thousands in Africa."[55] Native American slavery is legal throughout Georgia, however, and African slavery is later introduced in 1749.
1738 Spanish FloridaFort Mosé, the first legal settlement of free blacks in what is today the United States, is established. Word of the settlement sparks the Stono Rebellion in Carolina the following year.
1761 PortugalThe Marquis of Pombal bans the importation of slaves to metropolitan Portugal.[56] encouraging instead the trade of African slaves to Brazil.[57][58][59][60]
1766 SpainMuhammad III of Morocco purchases the freedom of all Muslim slaves in Seville, Cádiz, and Barcelona.[61]
1770 CircassiaThe Circassians of the Abdzakh region started a great revolution in Circassian territory in 1770. Classes such as slaves, nobles and princes were completely abolished. The Abdzakh Revolution coincides with the French Revolution. While many French nobles took refuge in Russia, some of the Circassian nobles took the same path and took refuge in Russia.[62]
1772 EnglandSomersett's case rules that no slave can be forcibly removed from England. This case was generally taken at the time to have decided that the condition of slavery did not exist under English law in England and Wales, and resulted in the emancipation of the remaining ten to fourteen thousand slaves or possible slaves in England and Wales, who were mostly domestic servants.[63]
1773 PortugalA new decree by the Marquis of Pombal, signed by the king Dom José, emancipates fourth-generation slaves[56] and every child born to an enslaved mother after the decree was published.[64]
1774 East India Company Government of Bengal passed regulations 9 and 10 of 1774, prohibiting the trade in slaves without written deed, and the sale of anyone not already enslaved.[65]
1775 VirginiaDunmore's Proclamation promises freedom to slaves who desert the American revolutionaries and join the British Army as Black Loyalists.
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Abolition Society formed in Philadelphia, the first abolition society within the territory that is now the United States of America.
 United StatesAtlantic slave trade banned or suspended in the United Colonies during the Revolutionary War. This was a continuation of the Thirteen Colonies' non-importation agreements against Britain, as an attempt to cut all economic ties with Britain during the war.[66]
1777 MadeiraSlavery abolished.[67]
 VermontThe Constitution of the Vermont Republic partially bans slavery,[67] freeing men over 21 and women older than 18 at the time of its passage.[68] The ban is not strongly enforced.[69][70]
1778 ScotlandJoseph Knight successfully argues that Scots law cannot support the status of slavery.[71]
1779 British AmericaThe Philipsburg Proclamation frees all slaves who desert the American rebels, regardless of their willingness to fight for the Crown.
1780 PennsylvaniaAn Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery passed, freeing future children of slaves. Those born prior to the Act remain enslaved for life. The Act becomes a model for other Northern states. Last slaves freed 1847.[72]
1783 Russian EmpireSlavery abolished in the recently annexed Crimean Khanate.[73]
MassachusettsMassachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules slavery unconstitutional, a decision based on the 1780 Massachusetts constitution. All slaves are immediately freed.[74]
 Austrian EmpireJoseph II abolishes slavery in Bukovina.[75]
New HampshireGradual abolition of slavery begins.
1784 ConnecticutGradual abolition of slavery, freeing future children of slaves, and later all slaves.[76]
Rhode IslandGradual abolition of slavery begins.
1786 New South WalesA policy of completely banning slavery is adopted by governor-designate Arthur Phillip for the soon-to-be established colony.[77]
1787 United StatesThe United States in Congress Assembled passes the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, outlawing any new slavery in the Northwest Territories.
Sierra LeoneFounded by Great Britain as a colony for emancipated slaves.[78]
 Great BritainSociety for the Abolition of the Slave Trade founded in Great Britain.[67]
1788Sir William Dolben's Act regulating the conditions on British slave ships enacted.
 France Abolitionist Society of the Friends of the Blacks founded in Paris.
 Denmark Limits imposed to serfdom under the Stavnsbånd system.
1789 FranceLast remaining seigneurial privileges over peasants abolished.[79]
1791 Poland-LithuaniaThe Constitution of May 3, 1791 introduced elements of political equality between townspeople and nobility, and placed the peasants under the protection of the government; thus, it mitigated the worst abuses of serfdom.
1791 FranceEmancipation of second-generation slaves in the colonies.[61]
1792 Denmark-NorwayTransatlantic slave trade declared illegal after 1803, though slavery continues in Danish colonies to 1848.[80]
1792 Saint HelenaThe importation of slaves to the island of Saint Helena was banned in 1792, but the phased emancipation of over 800 resident slaves did not take place until 1827, which was still some six years before the British parliament passed legislation to ban slavery in the colonies.[81]
1793 Saint-DomingueCommissioner Leger-Felicite Sonthonax abolishes slavery in the northern part of the colony. His colleague Etienne Polverel does the same in the rest of the territory in October.
 Upper CanadaImportation of slaves banned by the Act Against Slavery.
1794 FranceSlavery abolished in all French territories and possessions.[82]
 United StatesThe Slave Trade Act bans both American ships from participating in the slave trade and the export of slaves in foreign ships.[66]
 Poland-LithuaniaThe Proclamation of Połaniec, issued during the Kościuszko Uprising, ultimately abolished serfdom in Poland, and granted substantial civil liberties to all peasants.
1798 Occupied MaltaSlavery banned in the islands after their capture by French forces under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte.[83]
1799 New YorkGradual emancipation act freeing the future children of slaves, and all slaves in 1827.[84]
 ScotlandThe Colliers (Scotland) Act 1799 ends the legal servitude or slavery of coal and salt miners that had been established in 1606.[85]


Date Jurisdiction Description
1800 Joseon State slavery banned in 1800. Private slavery continued until being banned in 1894.
1800 United StatesAmerican citizens banned from investment and employment in the international slave trade in an additional Slave Trade Act.
1802 FranceNapoleon re-introduces slavery in sugarcane-growing colonies.[86]
OhioState constitution abolishes slavery.
1803 Denmark-NorwayAbolition of Danish participation in the transatlantic slave trade takes effect on 1 January.
1804 New JerseySlavery abolished.[87]
 HaitiHaiti declares independence and abolishes slavery.[67]
1804–1813 SerbiaLocal slaves emancipated.
1805 United KingdomA bill for abolition passes in House of Commons but is rejected in the House of Lords.
1806 United StatesIn a message to Congress, Thomas Jefferson calls for criminalizing the international slave trade, asking Congress to "withdraw the citizens of the United States from all further participation in those violations of human rights ... which the morality, the reputation, and the best of our country have long been eager to proscribe."
1807International slave trade made a felony in Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves; this act takes effect on 1 January 1808, the earliest date permitted under the Constitution.[88]
 United KingdomAbolition of the Slave Trade Act abolishes slave trading throughout the British Empire. Captains fined £100 per slave transported. Patrols sent to the African coast to arrest slaving vessels. The West Africa Squadron (Royal Navy) is established to suppress slave trading; by 1865, nearly 150,000 people freed by anti-slavery operations.[89]
WarsawConstitution abolishes serfdom.[90]
 PrussiaThe Stein-Hardenberg Reforms abolish serfdom.[90]
Michigan TerritoryJudge Augustus Woodward denies the return of two slaves owned by a man in Windsor, Upper Canada. Woodward declares that any man "coming into this Territory is by law of the land a freeman."[91]
1808 United StatesImportation and exportation of slaves made a crime.[92]
1810 New SpainIndependence leader Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla proclaimed the abolition of slavery three months after the start of the Independence of Mexico from Spain.
1811 United KingdomSlave trading made a felony punishable by transportation for both British subjects and foreigners.
 SpainThe Cortes of Cádiz abolish the last remaining seigneurial rights.[61]
British East India Company The Company issued regulations 10 of 1811, prohibiting the transport of slaves into Company territory, adding to the 1774 restrictions.[65]
 ChileThe First National Congress approves a proposal of Manuel de Salas that declares Freedom of Wombs, freeing the children of slaves born in Chilean territory, regardless of their parents' condition. The slave trade is banned and the slaves who stay for more than six months in Chilean territory are automatically declared freedmen.
1812 SpainThe Cortes of Cádiz pass the Spanish Constitution of 1812, giving citizenship and equal rights to all residents in Spain and her territories, excluding slaves. During deliberations, Deputies José Miguel Guridi y Alcocer and Agustín Argüelles unsuccessfully argue for the abolition of slavery.[61]
1813 New SpainIndependence leader José María Morelos y Pavón declares slavery abolished in Mexico in the documents Sentimientos de la Nación.
United ProvincesLaw of Wombs passed by the Assembly of Year XIII. Slaves born after 31 January 1813 will be granted freedom when they are married, or on their 16th birthday for women and 20th for men, and upon their manumission will be given land and tools to work it.[93]
1814 United ProvincesAfter the occupation of Montevideo, all slaves born in modern Uruguayan territory are declared free.
 NetherlandsSlave trade abolished.
1815 FranceNapoleon abolishes the slave trade.
 PortugalSlave trade banned north of the Equator in return for a £750,000 payment by Britain.[94]
FloridaBritish withdrawing after the War of 1812 leave a fully armed fort in the hands of maroons, escaped slaves and their descendants, and their Seminole allies. Becomes known as Negro Fort.
 United Kingdom
The Congress of Vienna declares its opposition to the slave trade.[95]
1816 EstoniaSerfdom abolished.
FloridaNegro Fort destroyed in the Battle of Negro Fort by U.S. forces under the command of General Andrew Jackson.
AlgeriaAlgiers bombarded by the British and Dutch navies in an attempt to end North African piracy and slave raiding in the Mediterranean. 3,000 slaves freed.
1817 CourlandSerfdom abolished.
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[96]
 SpainFerdinand VII signs a cedula banning the importation of slaves in Spanish possessions beginning in 1820,[61] in return for a £400,000 payment from Britain.[94] However, some slaves are still smuggled in after this date. Both slave ownership and internal commerce in slaves remained legal.
VenezuelaSimon Bolivar calls for the abolition of slavery.[61]
 New York4 July 1827 set as date to free all ex-slaves from indenture.[97]
United ProvincesConstitution supports the abolition of slavery, but does not ban it.[61]
1818 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[98]
 FranceSlave trade banned.
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty taking additional measures to enforce the 1814 ban on slave trading.[98]
1819 LivoniaSerfdom abolished.
Upper CanadaAttorney-General John Robinson declares all black residents free.
 HawaiiThe ancient Hawaiian kapu system is abolished during the ʻAi Noa, and with it the distinction between the kauwā slave class and the makaʻāinana (commoners).[99]
1820 United StatesThe Compromise of 1820 bans slavery north of the 36º 30' line; the Act to Protect the Commerce of the United States and Punish the Crime of Piracy is amended to consider the maritime slave trade as piracy, making it punishable with death.
IndianaThe supreme court orders almost all slaves in the state to be freed in Polly v. Lasselle.
 SpainThe 1817 abolition of the slave trade takes effect.[100]
1821 MexicoThe Plan of Iguala frees the slaves born in Mexico.[61]
 United States
In accordance with Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, Florida becomes a territory of the United States. A main reason was Spain's inability or unwillingness to capture and return escaped slaves.
PeruAbolition of slave trade and implementation of a plan to gradually end slavery.[61]
 Gran ColombiaEmancipation for sons and daughters born to slave mothers, program for compensated emancipation set.[101]
1822 HaitiJean Pierre Boyer annexes Spanish Haiti and abolishes slavery there.
LiberiaFounded by the American Colonization Society as a colony for emancipated slaves.
Muscat and Oman
 United Kingdom
First bilateral treaty limiting the slave trade in Zanzibar.
1823 ChileSlavery abolished.[67]
 United KingdomThe Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions (Anti-Slavery Society) is founded.
GreeceProhibition of slavery is enshrined in the Greek Constitution of 1823, during the Greek War of Independence.[102]
1824 MexicoThe new constitution effectively abolishes slavery.
Central AmericaSlavery abolished.[103]
1825 UruguayImportation of slaves banned.
HaitiFrance, with warships at the ready, demanded Haiti compensate France for its loss of slaves and its slave colony
1827 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.[98]
 New YorkLast vestiges of slavery abolished. Children born between 1799 and 1827 are indentured until age 25 (females) or age 28 (males).[104]
Saint HelenaPhased emancipation of over 800 resident slaves, some six years before the British parliament passed legislation to ban slavery in all colonies.[81]
1829 MexicoLast slaves freed just as the first president of partial African ancestry (Vicente Guerrero) is elected.[67]


Date Jurisdiction Description
1830 Coahuila y TejasMexican President Anastasio Bustamante attempts to implement the abolition of slavery. To circumvent the law, Anglo-Texans declare their slaves "indentured servants for life".[105]
1830 UruguaySlavery abolished.
1831 BoliviaSlavery abolished.[67]
BrazilLaw of 7 November 1831, abolishing the maritime slave trade, banning any importation of slaves, and granting freedom to slaves illegally imported into Brazil. The law was seldom enforced prior to 1850, when Brazil, under British pressure, adopted additional legislation to criminalize the importation of slaves.
1832  Greece Slavery abolished with independence.
1832 Coahuila y Tejas Anahuac Disturbances: Juan Davis Bradburn, American-born Mexican officer at Anahuac,Texas, confronts slave-owning American settlers, enforcing Mexican abolition of slavery and refusing to hand over two escaped slaves.
1834 United KingdomThe Slavery Abolition Act 1833 comes into force, abolishing slavery throughout most of the British Empire but on a gradual basis over the next six years.[106] Legally frees 700,000 in the West Indies, 20,000 in Mauritius, and 40,000 in South Africa. The exceptions are the territories controlled by the East India Company and Ceylon.[107]
 FranceFrench Society for the Abolition of Slavery founded in Paris.[108]
1835 SerbiaFreedom granted to all slaves in the moment they step on Serb soil.[109]
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaties abolishing the slave trade.[98]
 United Kingdom
 PeruA decree of Felipe Santiago Salaverry re-legalizes the importation of slaves from other Latin American countries. The line "no slave shall enter Peru without becoming free" is taken out of the Constitution in 1839.[110]
1836 PortugalPrime Minister Sá da Bandeira bans the transatlantic slave trade and the importation and exportation of slaves to or from the Portuguese colonies south of the equator.
 TexasSlavery made legal again with independence.
1837 SpainSlavery abolished outside of the colonies.[61]
1838 United KingdomAll slaves in the colonies become free after a period of forced apprenticeship following the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions (now London Anti-Slavery Society) winds up.
1839 United KingdomThe British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (after several changes, now known as Anti-Slavery International) is founded.
East India CompanyThe Indian indenture system is abolished in territories controlled by the company, but this is reversed in 1842.
Catholic ChurchPope Gregory XVI's In supremo apostolatus resoundingly condemns slavery and the slave trade.
1840 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade.
 United KingdomFirst World Anti-Slavery Convention meets in London.
 New ZealandTaking slaves banned by Treaty of Waitangi.[111]
1841 United Kingdom
Quintuple Treaty agreeing to suppress the slave trade.[67]
 United StatesUnited States v. The Amistad finds that the slaves of La Amistad were illegally enslaved and were legally allowed, as free men, to fight their captors by any means necessary.
1842 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty extending the enforcement of the slave trade ban to Portuguese ships south of the Equator.
 ParaguayLaw for the gradual abolition of slavery passed.[61]
1843 East India CompanyThe Indian Slavery Act, 1843, Act V abolishes slavery in territories controlled by the company.
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaties abolishing the slave trade.[98]
 United Kingdom
 United Kingdom
 United Kingdom
1844 MoldaviaMihail Sturdza abolishes slavery in Moldavia.
 ParaguaySlave trade abolished.[61]
1845 United Kingdom36 Royal Navy ships assigned to the Anti-Slavery Squadron, making it one of the largest fleets in the world.
IllinoisIn Jarrot v. Jarrot, the Illinois Supreme Court frees the last indentured ex-slaves in the state who were born after the Northwest Ordinance.[112]
1846 TunisiaSlavery abolished in Tunisia under Ahmed Bey rule.[113]
1847 Ottoman EmpireSlave trade from Africa abolished.[114]
Saint BarthélemyLast slaves freed.[115]
 PennsylvaniaThe last indentured ex-slaves, born before 1780 (fewer than 100 in the 1840 census[116]) are freed.
Danish West IndiesRoyal edict ruling the freedom of children born from female slaves and the total abolition of slavery after 12 years. Dissatisfaction causes a slave rebellion in Saint Croix the next year.
1848 AustriaSerfdom abolished.[117][118][119]
 FranceSlavery abolished in the colonies. Gabon is founded as a settlement for emancipated slaves.
Danish West IndiesGovernor Peter von Scholten declares the immediate and total emancipation of all slaves in an attempt to end the slave revolt. For this he is recalled and tried for treason, but the charges are later dropped.[67][115][120]
 DenmarkLast remains of the Stavnsbånd effectively abolished.
 United Kingdom
Muscat and Oman
Bilateral treaties abolishing the slave trade.[98]
1849 United Kingdom
 Trucial States
Sierra LeoneThe Royal Navy destroys the slave factory of Lomboko.


Date Jurisdiction Description
1850 United StatesThe Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 requires the return of escaped slaves to their owners regardless of the state they are in.
BrazilEusébio de Queirós Law (Law 581 of 4 September 1850) criminalizing the maritime slave trade as piracy, and imposing other criminal sanctions on the importation of slaves (already banned in 1831).[121]
1851 Brazil


Bilateral treaty of 12 October, Uruguay accepts returning to Brazil the escaped slaves from that country. Brazilians who owned land in Uruguay were allowed to have slaves in their properties.
Taiping Heavenly KingdomSlavery nominally abolished along with opium, gambling, polygamy and foot binding.[122][123][124]
New GranadaSlavery abolished.[101] After years of laws that only purported a partial advancement towards abolition, President José Hilario López pushed Congress to pass total abolition on 21 May. Former owners were compensated with government issued bonds.[125]
 EcuadorSlavery abolished in the country by José María Urvina.[126]
LagosReduction of Lagos: The British capture the city of Lagos and replace King Kosoko with Akitoye because of the former's refusal to ban the slave trade.
1852 Hawaii1852 Constitution officially declared slavery illegal.[127]
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty banning the slave trade and human sacrifice.
1853 ArgentinaSlavery abolished with the sanction of a new federal Constitution.[128]
1854 PeruSlavery abolished by Ramón Castilla.[129][67]
 VenezuelaSlavery abolished.[67][101]
1855 MoldaviaSlavery abolished.
1856 Wallachia
1857 United StatesDred Scott v. Sandford rules that black slaves and their descendants cannot gain American citizenship and are not entitled to freedom even if they live in a free state for years.
EgyptFirman banning the trade of Black African (Zanj) slaves.
1859Atlantic OceanDefinitive suppression of the transatlantic slave trade.
 United StatesThe Wyandotte Constitution establishes the future state of Kansas as a free state, after four years of armed conflict between pro-slavery and anti-slavery groups in the territory. Southern dominance in the U.S. Senate delays the admission of Kansas as a state until 1861.
 RussiaKazakhs banned from having slaves, although slavery persists in some areas through the rest of the century.[130]
1860 United States Last slave ship to unload illegally on U.S. territory, the Clotilda.
1861 RussiaThe Emancipation reform of 1861 abolishes serfdom.[131]
 United StatesThe election of Abraham Lincoln leads to the attempted secession of eleven slaveholding states and the American Civil War.
1862  United States Congress passes the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act, freeing all slaves in the District of Columbia.[132]
 United States
 United Kingdom
Bilateral treaty abolishing the slave trade (African Slave Trade Treaty Act).[98]
CubaSlave trade abolished.[67]
 United StatesNathaniel Gordon becomes the only person hanged in U.S. history "for being engaged in the slave trade".
1863 NetherlandsSlavery abolished in the colonies, emancipating 33,000 slaves in Surinam, 12,000 in Curaçao and Dependencies,[133] and an indeterminate number in the East Indies.
 United StatesLincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in Confederate-controlled areas. Most slaves in "border states" are freed by state action, and a separate law frees the slaves in Washington, D.C.
IcelandExemptions introduced to serfdom under the Vistarband system.
 Chatham IslandsSlavery abolished.[134]
1864 Congress PolandSerfdom abolished.[135]
1865 United StatesSlavery abolished, except as punishment for crime, by the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It frees all remaining slaves, about 40,000, in the border slave states that did not secede.[136] Thirty out of thirty-six states vote to ratify it; New Jersey, Delaware, Kentucky, and Mississippi vote against. Mississippi does not officially ratify it until 2013.[137]
 TexasJuneteenth: U.S. General Gordon Granger proclaims the end of slavery in Galveston.
 SpainSpanish Abolitionist Society founded in Madrid by Julio Vizcarrondo, José Julián Acosta and Joaquín Sanromá.[61]
1866 Indian TerritorySlavery abolished.[138] US government treaties with the "Five Civilized Tribes" in the Indian Territory (the Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Muscogee Nation, and Seminole Nation), which allied with the Confederacy, required all five tribes to abolish slavery for renewed US recognition of their governments.
IowaThirteenth Amendment ratified.
 New Jersey
1867 SpainLaw of Repression and Punishment of the Slave Trade.[61]
 United StatesPeonage Act of 1867, mostly targeting use of Native American peons in New Mexico Territory. Slavery among native tribes in Alaska was abolished after the purchase from Russia in 1867.[139]
1868 CubaCarlos Manuel de Céspedes and other independence leaders free their slaves and proclaim the independence of Cuba, starting the Ten Years War.
1869 PortugalLouis I abolishes slavery in all Portuguese territories and colonies.
 ParaguaySlavery abolished.
1870 SpainAmidst great opposition from the Cuban and Puerto Rican planters, Segismundo Moret drafts a "Law of Free Wombs" that frees children of slaves, slaves older than 65 years, and slaves serving in the Spanish Army, beginning in 1872.[61]
 TexasThirteenth Amendment ratified.
1871 BrazilRio Branco Law (Law of Free Birth) declares the children born to slave mothers free.[140]
 Japan Abolition of the han system or Japanese feudalism.
1873 Puerto RicoSlavery abolished.
 United Kingdom
Triple treaty abolishing the slave trade.[98]
1874 Gold CoastSlavery abolished.[141]
1879 BulgariaSlavery abolished with independence. The Constitution states that any slave that enters Bulgarian territory is immediately freed.
1882 Ottoman EmpireA firman emancipates all slaves, white and black.[142]
1884 CambodiaSlavery abolished.
1885 BrazilSexagenarians Law (a.k.a. Saraiva-Cotegipe Act) passed, freeing all slaves over the age of 60 and creating other measures for the gradual abolition of slavery, such as a Manumissions Fund administered by the State.
1886 CubaSlavery abolished.[67]
1888 BrazilGolden Law decreeing the total abolition of slavery with immediate effect.[143]
1889 ItalyAn Italian court finds that Josephine Bakhita was never legally enslaved according to Italian, British, or Egyptian law and is a free woman.
1890 United Kingdom
 United States
 Ottoman Empire


Brussels Conference Act – a collection of anti-slavery measures to put an end to the slave trade on land and sea, especially in the Congo Basin, the Ottoman Empire, and the East African coast.
1894 KoreaSlavery abolished, but it survives in practice until 1930.[144]
IcelandVistarband effectively abolished (but not de jure).
1895 TaiwanTaiwan is annexed by Japan, where slavery has been abolished.
1895 EgyptSlavery abolished.[145]
 Italian SomalilandFirst slaves freed[146]
1896 MadagascarSlavery abolished.
1897 ZanzibarSlavery abolished.[147]
SiamSlave trade abolished.[148]
BassoraChildren of freedmen issued separate certificates of liberation to avoid enslavement and separation from their parents.
1899 NdzuwaniSlavery abolished.


Date Jurisdiction Description
1900 GuamSlavery abolished 22 February 1900, by proclamation of Richard P. Leary.[149]
1901 DelawareThirteenth Amendment ratified.
1902 CameroonGradual abolition of slavery.[150]
1903 French Sudan"Slave" no longer used as an administrative category.
1904 United Kingdom
International Agreement for the suppression of the White Slave Traffic signed in Paris. Only France, the Netherlands and Russia extend the treaty to the whole extent of their colonial empires with immediate effect, and Italy extends it to Eritrea but not to Italian Somaliland.[151]
British East AfricaSlavery abolished.[152]
1905 French West AfricaSlavery formally abolished. Though up to one million slaves gain their freedom, slavery continues to exist in practice for decades afterward.
1906 ChinaSlavery abolished beginning on 31 January 1910. Adult slaves are converted into hired laborers and the minors freed upon reaching age 25.[153]
 BarotselandSlavery abolished.[154]
1908 Ottoman EmpireThe Young Turk Revolution eradicates the open trade of Zanj and Circassian women from Constantinople.[155]
 Congo Free StateBelgium annexes the Congo Free State, ending the practice of slavery there.
1912 SiamSlavery abolished.[148]
1915 British MalayaSlavery abolished.[156]
1917 British RajIndian indenture system abolished.[157]
1917  Soviet Russia Decree Abolishing Classes and Civil Ranks
1918 United StatesSupreme Court rules in Arver v. United States that the 13th Amendment prohibition against involuntary servitude does not apply to conscription. The government can constitutionally force people to serve in the military against their will.
1919 TanganyikaSlavery abolished.[152]
1922 MoroccoSlave trade abolished, slave holding remained legal.[158]
1923 AfghanistanSlavery abolished.[159]
 FloridaConvict lease abolished after the death of Martin Tabert, who was whipped for being too ill to work.
 Hong KongSlavery of Mui tsai abolished.
1924 IraqSlavery abolished.
Anglo-Egyptian SudanSlavery abolished[160]
 League of NationsTemporary Slavery Commission appointed.
 TurkeySlavery abolished[161]
1926   NepalSlavery abolished.[162]
 League of NationsConvention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery.
British BurmaSlavery abolished.[156]
 United Kingdom Law of Property Act 1925.
1927 Spain1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
 United Kingdom
Treaty of Jeddah (1927) abolishing the slave trade.
1928 Sierra LeoneAbolition of domestic slavery practised by local African elites.[163] Although established as a place for freed slaves, a study found practices of domestic slavery still widespread in rural areas in the 1970s.
 AlabamaConvict lease abolished, the last state in the Union to do so.
1929 PersiaSlavery abolished and criminalized.[164]
1930 League of NationsForced Labour Convention.
1935 EthiopiaThe invading Italian General Emilio De Bono claims to have abolished slavery in the Ethiopian Empire.[165]
 Nazi GermanyNazi Germany legalized forced labor.[166]
1936 Northern NigeriaSlavery abolished.[167]
BechuanalandSlavery abolished.[168]
1937 BahrainSlavery abolished.[169]
1940 United StatesFranklin D. Roosevelt signs Circular 3591 abolishing all forms of convict leasing.
1945 Occupied GermanyMillions of forced labourers and slaves are freed after the fall of the Third Reich; see forced labour under German rule during World War II.
1946 Occupied GermanyFritz Sauckel, Nazi official responsible for procuring forced labor in occupied Europe during World War II, is convicted of crimes against humanity and hanged.[170]
 French SudanBeginning of large slave defections encouraged by the French Fourth Republic and the Sudanese Union – African Democratic Rally party.
1948 United NationsArticle 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares slavery contrary to human rights.[171]
1949 KuwaitSlavery abolished.[169]


Date Jurisdiction Description
1952 QatarSlavery abolished.[172][173]
1953 Australia
 New Zealand
 South Africa
 United Kingdom
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1954 Afghanistan
1955 Ecuador
 Republic of China (Taiwan)
1956 United NationsSupplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery.
 Soviet Union
United States
 South Vietnam
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1957 United NationsThe Abolition of Forced Labour Convention eliminates some exceptions admitted in the 1930 Forced Labour Convention.
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1958 BhutanSlavery abolished.[175]
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1959 Jordan
1960 NigerSlavery abolished.[177]
 MaliFirst president Modibo Keita makes the effective abolition of slavery a prominent goal of the government. However, his efforts are largely abandoned during the dictatorship of Moussa Traoré (1968–1991).
1961 Nigeria1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1961 MoroccoSlavery abolished under Moroccan Constitution, although domestic slave practices continued.[158]
1962 Saudi ArabiaSlavery abolished.[172]
 North Yemen
 Sierra Leone
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1963 Algeria
1964 Trucial StatesSlavery abolished.[lower-alpha 1]
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1965 Malawi
1966 Brazil
 Trinidad and Tobago
1967 South YemenSlavery abolished.[179]
1968 Mongolia1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1969 Ethiopia
1970 OmanSlavery abolished.[180]
1972 Fiji1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1973 West Germany
 Saudi Arabia
1974 Lesotho
1976 Bahamas
 KentuckyThirteenth Amendment ratified.
1981 MauritaniaSlavery abolished,[181][182] though the ban was not enforced and many people continued to be held as slaves.[183]
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
 Solomon Islands
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1982 Papua New Guinea
1983 Bolivia
1984 Cameroon
1985 Bangladesh
1986 Cyprus
1987 North Yemen
1990 Bahrain
 Saint Lucia
1992 Croatia
1993 Bosnia and Herzegovina
1994 Dominica
1995 Chile
 MississippiThe Mississippi Legislature unanimously votes to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution after a clerk discovers it never had. It is the last eligible state in the union to do so. However, state officials fail to send the required documentation to the state register.[184]
1996 Azerbaijan1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
 IrelandLast Magdalene Laundry closes.
1997 Kyrgyzstan
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
1998 GhanaForced ritual servitude of girls in Ewe shrines banned.


Date Jurisdiction Description
2001 Yugoslavia
1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
2003 NigerSlavery criminalized.[177]
2006 Montenegro1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
 MaliTemedt, an organization against slavery and the discrimination of former slaves, is founded in Essakane.
2007 MauritaniaSlavery criminalized.[185]
 Paraguay1926 Slavery Convention ratified.
2008 Kazakhstan
2009 United KingdomSection 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.[186]
2010 Sahrawi Arab Democratic RepublicSlavery criminalized.[187]
2013 MississippiRatification of the Thirteenth Amendment legally recorded.[184]
2015 United KingdomModern Slavery Act 2015.[188]
2017 Navajo NationCriminalization of human trafficking.[189]
 ChadSlavery criminalized.[190]
2018 ColoradoPrison exception removed from Colorado's constitutional ban on slavery.[191]
2019 Iraq
Defeat and debellatio of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant leads to the freeing of thousands of slaves, including Yazidi and Christian sex slaves.[192][193][194]
2020 Utah
Prison exception removed from both states' constitutional ban on slavery.[195][196]
2022  Alabama Oregon Tennessee Vermont Prison exception removed from the states' constitutional ban on slavery.[197]
PresentWorldwideAlthough slavery is now abolished de jure in all countries,[198][199] de facto practices akin to it continue today in many places throughout the world, almost exclusively in Asia and Africa.[200][201][202][203]


  1. Except Abu Dhabi, the rest of the Trucial States officially abolished slavery by a joint declaration in 1956. Abu Dhabi officially abolished it in 1963.[178]

See also


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Further reading

  • Campbell, Gwyn. The Structure of Slavery in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia (Frank Cass, 2004)
  • Davis, David Brion. Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (2008) excerpt
  • Drescher, Seymour. Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery (Cambridge University Press, 2009)
  • Drescher, Seymour. Pathways from slavery: British and colonial mobilizations in global perspective (Routledge, 2018).
  • Drescher, Seymour. "Civil Society and Paths to Abolition." Journal of Global Slavery 1.1 (2016): 44–71.
  • Finkelman, Paul, and Joseph Miller, eds. Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Slavery (2 vol 1998)
  • Finkelman, Paul, and Seymour Drescher. "The eternal problem of slavery in international law: Killing the vampire of human culture." Michigan State Law Review (2017): 755+ online.
  • Gordon, M. Slavery in the Arab World (1989)
  • Grindal, Peter. Opposing the Slavers; The Royal Navy's Campaign against the Atlantic Slave Trade (L.B. Tauris 2016) ISBN 978-1-78831-286-8
  • Hinks, Peter, and John McKivigan, eds. Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition (2 vol. 2007) 795pp; ISBN 978-0-313-33142-8
  • Lovejoy, Paul. Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa (Cambridge UP, 1983)
  • Mathews, Nathaniel. "The 'Fused Horizon' of Abolitionism and Islam: Historicism, the Quran and the Global History of Abolition." Journal of global slavery 4.2 (2019): 226–265.
  • Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America (2008)
  • Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery (1997)
  • Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World (2007)
  • Sinha, Manisha. "The Problem of Abolition in the Age of Capitalism The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770–1823, by David Brion Davis." American Historical Review 124.1 (2019): 144–163.
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