(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
As the legal and illegal importation of African slaves into Brazil and Cuba continued in the early 1860s, antislavery advocates pressed the Buchanan administration to end the participation of U.S.-based ships. They contrasted the U.S. government's passive stance on this to the British government which since the 1830s, had stationed a squadron of ships in Africa dedicated to stopping and seizing vessels carrying slaves. This vigorous effort has been estimated by one historian to have cut the importation of slaves into Brazil and Cuba (the only major places where it was still legal to import slaves from Africa) by 30 to 50 percent in the 1850s. But despite the risks, some U.S. shipowners continued to trade in slaves: the profits often outweighed the risks.