26 Reading 34-1 moral must be that, to be effective, the reformer has to guarantee that the abuse abolished does not leave behind an illegal operation more heinous than the open one. The Americans in particular, who de f ed the ban on the trade, exhibited the same contempt for the new morality as their spiritual descendants showed for Prohibition a century later. Laws were made not to be obeyed, but to be circumnavigated, like the world itself. After 1820 the Royal Navy maintained continuous patrols off the Bight of Benin in West Africa, in the trade wind routes, and of course throughout the Caribbean. They were an excellent means of keeping peacetime crews alert and well-exercised, and constituted an elegant way of justifying naval expenditure to those who were the natural “economizers” in the nation, and who did not really believe in the Big Navy. The ships were often commanded and crewed by men who had seen enough of the horrors of the new slave trade to approach their task with evangelical zeal. Zeal was needed.
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