The Congress at Aix-la-Chapelle also continued the discussions over ending the Atlantic slave trade that had began at the Congress of Vienna. Only Britain truly wanted to end the practice, and to that end Britain had built up a West African Squadron of ships patrolling for slavers. However, if the slavers ran up the flags of other countries, British naval vessels could not legally board them. At Aix-la-Chapelle, Britain negotiated for a "right of search" regarding European ships of other countries, allowing them to stop slavers from falsely running a foreign flag to prevent boarding. The British efforts went primarily for naught: the slave trade would continue throughout the period to 1848. Incidentally, very little of the slaves were shipped to the United States. Most slaves crossing the Atlantic in the 19th century were destined for Cuba or Brazil.

Outside the sphere of Europe, the Spanish New World during the 1820s was in revolt, as those living in the colonies wanted increased say in their government. Simon Bolivar led independence movements in Venezuela and Colombia, while Jose de San Martin fought for independence in Argentina and Chile. The two worked together in the liberation of Peru. At the Congress of Verona, Alexander I suggested intervening to stop the New World revolts. Britain, however, made clear it would use its sea power to oppose any such attempt. Britain knew that free New World colonies would be more likely to establish good trade relations with Britain than Spanish-dominated colonies, so Britain acted out of economic self-interest rather than political liberal support. And without British support, no intervention in the New World could take place: the British Navy, which had established dominance since the battle of Trafalgar, could easily prevent European troops from ever reaching South America. Furthermore, in 1823, the United States issued the Munroe Doctrine, promising to fight against any European power that attempted to intervene in the New World. The new British foreign secretary after Castlereagh, George Canning, was happy to accept this American support, even though it was really British naval dominance that prevented the European powers from intervening in South America.

The 1822 Council of Verona was the last of the international reactionary councils. Although the three councils subsequent to the Congress of Vienna all met with short-term success, the institution of a large-scale anti-liberal system never materialized, largely because of the British refusal to bind itself into possible long-term commitments. The congresses did help to create a clear definition of the forces at work in Europe leading up to 1848: Reaction versus Liberalism and Revolution.

Popular pages: Europe (1815-1848)