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The British Royal Navy and the Collapse of the Atlantic Slave Trade

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The Institute of World Politics

1521 16th St. NW

Washington DC, DC 20036

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About the Lecture: Lt. Col. Dave Blair (USAF) will discuss his book Chasing Jericho: Tactical adaptation in the Royal Navy's West Africa squadron and the eventual sudden collapse of the Atlantic slave trade.

On the 25th of March, 1807, the British Empire turned from the primary backer of the Atlantic Slave Trade to its most powerful adversary. Between that date and 1867, the year the last known Atlantic slave ship sailed, the British spent tens of millions of pounds and lost thousands of sailors in the course of suppressing the trade. Their foreign office bribed and pressured European sea-going powers into an international treaty network against the trade, backed by Royal Navy cruisers. Royal Navy officers built a network of treaties with leaders on the West African coast, similarly by way of economic incentives, pressure and at times, force. The British were willing to act unilaterally, even assaulting Brazilian slave ships at their moorings in the Americas. Amidst all of this, the perennially controversial effort faced vocal doubts as to its efficacy and social value, and was nearly called off in the late 1850s. The outcome of this campaign -- the eradication of the Atlantic Slave Trade -- is remarkable amongst illicit market suppression attempts for its clear success...

Without the campaign of the British Royal Navy against the Atlantic slave trade, which campaign is today largely forgotten, the immense work of William Wilberforce in declaring that trade illegal would likely have been meaningless as the slave trade would have continued much as before. More pertinent to the 21st century, the Royal Navy's strategy and tactics provide lessons that can prove useful in today's transnational security challenges.

About the Speaker: Lt. Col. Dave Blair (USAF) is a Senior Special Operations Aviation Advisor at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he works on emerging aviation technology, artificial intelligence, and competitive strategies. He is a proud graduate of a Small Technical College on the Front Range of the Rockies (Class of 2002); he also holds a Masters from Harvard and a Doctorate from Georgetown as a member of the first class of the CSAF's Prestigious PhD Program. He is an Evaluator Pilot in Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), with more than 2,000 combat hours in six theaters of combat in the AC-130 Spooky Gunship, MQ-1 Predator, and MQ-9 Reaper.

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The Institute of World Politics

1521 16th St. NW

Washington DC, DC 20036

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