This Week in Geographic History: The Slave Trade & Its Abolition

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We’re slowing down for the summer! Instead of our usual roundup of “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events, here’s a closer look at one historic event that connects to something in the news today. We’ve also matched it with a map or visual, background information, and additional resources.

Wednesday, August 23

NGS Picture Id:1529081
Recent efforts to remove statues of Confederate soldiers, like this one of General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, have been met with protests by white supremacists. Photograph by Patricia Lyons, National Geographic.

TDIGH: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

The UN created this day in 1998 to ensure that the transatlantic slave trade stays in our collective memory, and to commemorate the 1791 slave uprising in Haiti.

Current Event: Editorial: Statues should honor slaves rather than slaveholders

In light of last week’s events in Charlottesville, this editorial examines the message that is sent by the U.S. government’s support for monuments to slaveholders, rather than to those who helped end slavery.


Colonial Trade Routes


Interactive Timeline: A History of Slavery in the U.S.

Slave Sale

U.S. Bans Importation of Slaves

The 13th Amendment

Africa: Human Geography

Discussion Questions:  

  1. Why do you think there aren’t more statues memorializing slaves in the years since the abolition of slavery?
  2. What do you think we should do with the Confederate statues once they are removed?

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