During the course of the eighteenth century, Britain overtook all other European nations as the single largest exporter of Africans from Africa. By the end of the century, more than half the captives transported from west Africa were carried across the Atlantic in British ships. It was only after a vigorous campaign by anti-slave trade campaigners that Britain finally banned British ships from engaging in the trade. In fact, there had been a wide international movement against the trade and slavery itself since at least the 1780s. Northern US states had been banning the institution of slavery from that time. In France, the revolutionary government imposed a partial ban – the emancipation of second-generation slaves in the colonies – in 1791, which sparked the Haitian Revolution, although Napoleon reversed the ban in 1802. Denmark banned its citizens from engaging in the trade from 1803. Although Britain had, hitherto, been far from taking the lead in the anti-slavery movement, in the 1800s, Britain was emerging as the leading world power and its ban of 1807 was an important step in the abolition of the institution of slavery itself. The newly independent United States of America officially banned its subjects from engaging in the trade in 1808, although the institution of slavery remained in the USA and became a pretext for civil war in that country in the 1860s. Holland and France banned the trade in 1814 and 1817 respectively.
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