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The Act Against Slavery was an Act passed by Upper Canada on July 9, 1793 to prohibit slavery. The Act remained in force until 1833 when the British Parliamentmarker's Slavery Abolition Act abolished slavery in all parts of the British Empire.

Even before becoming Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe stated his intention to treat persons of African, Canadian, or European origin equally. After seeing a Black woman slave fight her owner as he forced her into a boat to take her across the river to the United States to be sold, he attempted to pass an Act immediately abolishing slavery throughout the province. This was strongly resisted on the grounds that it would be a serious economic blow to the colony, and he was forced to modify his Act to allow for a gradual elimination of slavery instead.

Simcoe's Act stated that all slaves in the province would remain enslaved until death, that no new slaves could be brought into Upper Canada, and that children born to female slaves would be freed at age 25. (At the time, the average life expectancy of slaves in the colony was 18 years for Natives and 25 years for Africans.) Further, any children born to this second generation while they were still slaves would be free from birth. This ensured the eventual end of slavery in Upper Canada, although as it diminished the sale value of slaves within the province it also resulted in slaves being sold to the United States. Some slaves in Upper Canada also ran away south to the free states, thus gaining their liberty via a sort of reverse Underground Railroad.

Simcoe's Act was the first attempt to abolish slavery in the British Empire, although slaves remained in Upper Canada until 1834 when the British Parliamentmarker's Slavery Abolition Act finally abolished slavery in all parts of the Empire.


  • The Hanging of Angélique. Afua Cooper (2006), Harper Collins. ISBN 0002005530

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