Did the Continental Association Attempt to End the Slave Trade in America?

I was doing a little research on the Continental Association for my final draft of my current manuscript – just to make sure I got the dates correct. I know it’s “just a romance novel,” but believe it or not, historical romance readers actually care about these things.

Side note: I am still open to beta readers if anyone is interested! I know it can be frustrating to read a WIP. However, this one has already gone through a couple rounds of beta and countless rounds of editing, so it’s well beyond the rough draft stage. See "Featured Post" int he sidebar to the right for more info.

Anyway, I was reading up on the Continental Association and came across an interesting clause. For those of you unfamiliar with this initiative (for lack of a better word) let me give you some background. Perhaps I should start back a few years…

Widely associated with the Revolution, this well-
known image was actually created during the 
French and Indian War. The slogan may seem a bit 
dark, but I do appreciate their use of the comma, 
don't you?
Britain grossly overextended itself fighting the Seven Years War (Europe) and The French and Indian War (America) in the 1750s and 60s. To recoup their costs, they levied numerous taxes on the American colonies. After all, the F&I War was fought to protect the colonists, why shouldn’t they have a hand in paying for it? Or so the logic went.

The names of the acts that implemented these taxes will be familiar to most of us who went through elementary school in the U.S. (Or maybe not, given some of the recent “man on the street” polls I’ve seen lately.) The primary ones in question are The Stamp Act, which effectively taxed anything printed on paper, and The Townshend Acts, which taxed a number of different types of goods.

Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the 
Exchequer and instigator of the 
eponymous Towshend Acts, died
before they were enacted.

In response, Americans formed non-importation and non-consumption associations. Essentially, these were boycotts on British goods that attempted to force parliament to repeal the taxes. For the most part, they worked, and parliament repealed all but the tax on tea.

“Not good enough!” said the colonists, and they dumped tea into Massachusetts Bay in what became known as The Boston Tea Party.

As you might imagine, parliament was not fond of being made to look the fool, so they implemented what the Americans called The Intolerable Acts. Parliament’s name for these acts, the Coercive Acts, was only slightly less odious. But, both were apt descriptions because they allowed for things such as the quartering of soldiers in civilian homes (and barns), the closing of the Port of Boston, and the revoking of the Massachusetts charter, which removed their right to self-govern. Odious in the extreme for the Americans of the day.

Broadside from 1765. "Distributor of Stamps"
was probably not one of the more sought-after
job descriptions in American by this time. 
The purpose of these acts was to punish the Americans and force them to give up those behind The Boston Tea Party. No one was ever caught or prosecuted, leading me to believe that this might just be the most famous unsolved crime in American history.

Update: Apparently one man was arrested an imprisoned. A Mr. Francis Akeley. Doing a little more research on the poor guy. I'm dying to know how he managed to get caught.

After the Intolerable Acts were passed, The Continental Congress created the Continental Association which imposed a ban on importing or consuming any goods from Britain, Ireland and the British West Indies. The association also allowed the colonies to set up enforcement groups or use existing groups such as the Committees of Correspondence to ensure these bans were followed.

All but one colony did so. At first, I suspected Rhode Island of holding out because they were always going against the grain back in the day. But then I read the second point in the Continental Association text:

We will neither import nor purchase any slave imported after the first day of December next; after which time, we will wholly discontinue the slave trade, and will neither be concerned in it ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels, nor sell our commodities or manufactures to those who are concerned in it.

Examining the full text in greater detail, I discovered Georgia was the missing colony. Actually, Georgia didn’t even make it to the First Continental Congress. The reason most history books give is that they had prospered under British rule and they felt they still needed protection from the Indians. Maybe so. But had they attended, I’m guessing the aforementioned clause would not have made it into the Continental Association in the same way it never made it into the Declaration of Independence.

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