Modern Historical Debate Surrounding The Anglo-American

1682 WordsMar 26, 20177 Pages
Modern historical debate surrounding the Anglo-American Atlantic slave trade stems directly from the publication of Eric Williams’ transformative Capitalism and Slavery in 1944. Dismantling with fierce efficacy the long-dominant interpretation of abolition as a function of humanitarian enlightenment, Williams’ thesis instead contends that after providing the material foundation and trade infrastructure for Europe’s industrial revolution, slavery had fulfilled its purpose and was thus replaced by capitalism as an economic modality. Though radical for its time and considered insufficiently empirical for ours, this analysis of emancipation’s conceptual underpinnings has served as the touchstone for successive scholarly works on the…show more content…
From this foundation, with the hope of effectively communicating these contrasting perspectives in a manner that portrays the macroeconomic consequences of slavery in the British Atlantic, it will first provide a brief synopsis of the trade’s recognized origins, and then analyze in turn the profitability of trade connected to slavery, changes to labor forces, the role of social pressure, and finally the relationship between slavery and capitalism. As Eric Williams directly establishes in Capitalism and Slavery, “unfree labor in the New World was brown, white, black, and yellow; Catholic, Protestant, and pagan” . Stimulated by an abundance of cheap land and a dearth of workers, the origin and initial expansion of African slavery in New World plantation economies was not a racially motivated circumstance, but rather an economic phenomenon. Native and European populations in the 16th and 17th centuries were simply not capable of meeting the accumulative labor demands of sugar, tobacco, and cotton plantations, and from a production standpoint, the cost of cultivating these particular crops was appreciably reduced on larger-scale enterprises – the profits
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