När statskassan väger tyngre än människovärdet – Det svenska deltagandet i den transatlantiska slavhandeln från slutet på 1700-talet till mitten på 1800-talet

Detta är en Uppsats för yrkesexamina på avancerad nivå från Lunds universitet/Juridiska institutionen; Lunds universitet/Juridiska fakulteten

Sammanfattning: This essay aims to examine and analyze the discussions of the Swedish participation in the transatlantic slave trade at the end of the 18th century and the debate concerning the abolishment of the Swedish slave trade and slavery in the middle of the 19th century. To examine this topic, a legal historical method with an analytical element will be used. When the Swedish lieutenant Ulrik Nordenskiöld submitted his publication about the establishment of a Swedish colony along the African west coast in 1776, slave trade and slavery was not in the picture although the transatlantic slave trade was a highly topical matter during that time. The Swedes had many dreams and outlined many projects. At the end of the day, none of these projects were brought to real existence. King Gustav III on the other hand succeeded in acquiring the West Indian Island S:t Barthélemy in exchange for France receiving trading privileges in Gothenburg. King Gustav III and the kings after him, in comparison to the authors of the Swedish colonial dreams, did not prioritize human principles. Their goal seems to have been to maximize the revenue for the public treasury at the expense of the freedom of the black enslaved population. Unsuitable for plantation agriculture, S:t Barthélemy became a transit port for the regional slave markets in the Caribbean. The substantial arguments that have been identified prioritize the economical aspect over human dignity. According to the Swedes that were residing in S:t Barthélemy, the slave trade was necessary. Abolishing the slave trade would result in the unemployment of thousands of people and it would cease the production of many important commodities. Great Britain and other European nations began one by one to abolish the slave trade and slavery in the beginning of the 19th century, and they did not let Sweden get away with its actions. Not just one, but several international agreements were signed in which Sweden undertook the obligation to end its slave trade. However, it was not until 1845 that the Riksdag of Estates convened to meetings of each estate to debate about the abolishment of the slave trade and slavery. A debate that according to the common man should have been based on moral and ethical principles, featured in several parts’ economic arguments. Argument such as that Sweden should sell the island and let the buying country carry out the slave emancipation, that the state committee chose the wrong fund to finance the purpose, that it was not allowed to violate the slave owners’ property rights and that the poor people in Sweden in fact had it far worse than the slaves living on the island were highlighted in the debate. At last, the king and the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates chose the most profitable alternative for the public treasury regarding the slave emancipation on S:t Barthélemy. The human dignity became a second priority.

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