Please click on a bulleted heading to toggle
David, CITIZENS OF THE WORLD, London merchants and the integration of the
British Atlantic community, , 477pp. Cambridge University Press. Pounds 35.
- 0 521 47430 2.
has not just rehabilitated a long-forgotten relationship of
eighteenth-century merchants; he has re-created a world which few knew
existed; the interdependent one of North Atlantic trade before 1775.
That the slave trade played a large, though not overwhelming, part in
this world is certain. Hugh Thomas TLS March 08 1996
E. J., Industry and Empire, Penguin 1968
. . . in 1750 . .
. Liverpool . . . bustle of that fast-rising port, based, like
Bristol and Glasgow, largely on the trade in slaves and colonial
products - sugar, tea, tobacco, and increasingly cotton.
52 The powerful, growing
and accelerating current of overseas trade . . .rested on three things:
in Europe, the rise of a market for overseas products for everyday use,
whose market could be expanded as they became available in larger
quantities and more cheaply; and overseas the creation of economic
systems for producing such goods (such as, for instance, slave-operated
plantations) and the conquest of colonies designed to serve the economic
advantage of their European owners.
53 Around 1700 (colonial
trade) amounted already to fifteen per cent of (British) commerce - but
by 1775 to as much as a third.
. . . after the war of the Spanish Succession (1702-13) between two and
three thousand tons of British ships cleared from England every year for
Africa, mainly as slavers; after the Seven Years' War (1756-63) between
fifteen and nineteen thousand; after the American War of Indejpendence
(1787) twenty-two thousand.
54 . . . by the early
1780s more than half of all slaves exported from Africa . . . made
profits for British slavers
. . . throughout the nineteenth century . . . the exchange of overseas
primary products for British manufactures was to be the foundation of
(the British) international economy.
56 . . . cotton was the
pace maker of industrial change. . .
57 Modest local
manufacturers established themselves in the hinterland of the great
colonial and slave-trading ports, Bristol, and even Glasgow and
Liverpool, though the new industry was finally localized near the last
of these. . . Until 1770 over ninety per cent of British cotton
exports went to colonial markets . . . mainly to Africa. The vast
expansion of exports after 1750 gave the industry its impetus: between
then and 1770 cotton exports multiplied ten times over.
Roy, English Society in the Eighteenth Century, Penguin, 1982
- 16 It
was a society which was capitalist, materialist, market-oriented;
worldly, pragmatic, responsive to economic pressures. Yet, its political
institutions and its distribution of social power . . . were unashamedly
hierarchical, hereditary, and privileged . . .
22 English boys . .
. ached to go to sea.
23 . . . the Royal Navy .
. .press-ganged men in ports. . . Englishmen . . liked
being thought bloody-minded roughnecks. . . Even the top people duelled.
. . .The English .. . . ate to excess, drank like lords, and swore like
24 (quoting Southey) They
love liberty; go to war with their neighbours, because they choose to
become republicans, and insist upon the right of enslaving the negroes.
29 Poverty meant lives of
deprivation and dependence: relying of bread as the main foodstuff;
freezing in shacks and cellars; having animals occasionally living under
the same roof . . .
31 Criminals were
publicly whipped, pilloried, and hanged. Jacobites' heads
were spiked on Temple Bar till 1777. . . . Sailors boasted of the
thousands of lashes they had borne.
33 People almost never
bathed. Before cottons became cheap, clothes were difficult to wash;
children in particular were often sewn into theirs for the winter.
. . Chamber pots were providing in dining-room side-boards for
men, to save breaking up the conversation. . . Food hygiene was no
better than personal hygiene. . . the streets were full of dung . . .
the stench . . much was invisible in a world lit by candles and
rush-lights.. . . Alcohol gave stimulus, release, oblivion.
35 People had to shift
for themselves. . . . How one made out depended on skills in the games
of deference and condescension, patronage and favour, protection and
obedience . . .
36 There were no female
parliamentarians, explorers, lawyers, magistrates, or factory
entrepreneurs . . .
37 Men were intended
(said men) to excel in reason, business, action, decision; women's forte
was to be passive, maternal, submissive, modest, docile, and virtuous. .
38 (quoting Blackstone)
'In marriage husband and wife are one person, and that person is the
A husband had the right to beat his wife, ruled a judge, so long as the
stick was no thicker than a man's thumb.
39 (quoting Dr. Johnson)
'The chastity of women is of all importance, as all property depends on
51 Slaves were the
precious life-blood of the West Indian economy, where King Sugar
reigned, and in which £70 million had been invested by 1790.
Under the asiento British slave-traders transported a
million and a half Africans during the century: 'All this great increase
in our treasure,' wrote Joshua Gee in 1729, 'proceeds chiefly from the
labour of negroes in the plantations.' West African gold gave England
the guinea. . . English society was irreversibly being skewed by
her imperial wealth.
52 The haul by road from
Newcastle to London was ('God willing', as advertisements said) nine
days . . .. Defoe thought a tree trunk might take three years to be
dragged from Sussex to a dockyard in Chatham . . . Ox waggons were
101 . . . apprentices
might be little better off than slaves. . . Men were subjected to
brutality from their masters . . . women, especially servants, were prey
to sexual exploitation. . . in some industries the relationship between
master and worker (quoting Dean Tucker) 'approached much nearer to that
of a planter and slaves in our American colonies . . .'
105 . . . the exceptional
maid might - like Pamela in Richardson's novel - marry her master.
114 . . . violence was as
English as plum pudding.
125 . . . candidates . .
. cajoled voters by bribes and threats . . .
151 There had been fifty
capital offences in 1689; by 1800 there were four times that number.
Many specified death for small-scale theft such as pick-pocketing goods
worth more than 1s. . . offenders caught poaching were frequently
Property was . . . the soul of eighteenth century society. . . Thus
Negro slaves were openly sold as chattels. . .
152 There was a thriving
trade in making ornamental collars and padlocks for slaves.
153 Despite the much
trumpeted Somersett ruling of 1772, even the rights to own Negro slaves
in England remained stubbornly secure through the whole of the century.
163 . . . in an age when
fertility was low, sex did not often result in conception.
180 Polite society did
not take girls' minds very seriously.
181 (quoting Davies Giddy
in 1807) Giving education to the labouring classes or the poor would be
prejudicial to their morals and happiness; it would teach them to
despise their lot in life, instead of making them good servants in
agriculture and other laborious employment. Instead of teaching
them subordination, it would render them fractious and refractory.
205 England's successful
trafficking economy was consistently energized by highly favourable
overseas trade, especially with the fast-growing empire. The
merchant marine (grew) from about 3,300 vessels (260,000 tons) in 1702 .
. . to about 9,400 (695,000 tons) in 1776.
216 The most spectacular
growth points early in the century were west-coast ports such as
Liverpool and Bristol. . . Though its population was under 10,000 in
1700, by 1800 Liverpool had become the second largest town in the
kingdom. It thrived on overseas merchant investment, specializing in
tobacco and slaves.
235 . . . water supplies
were often contaminated . . .Sugar got cheaper: 200,000 lbs were
consumed in 1690, 5,000,000 in 1760.
238 . . . few houses had
252 Books remained quite
dear. . . A novel would cost at least 7s 6d. . . even so, Henry
Fielding's Joseph Andrews sold 6,500 copies in 1742.
257 John Newbery poured
out spelling books, primers, picture books, chapbooks, joke books, and
fairy stories. . .
288 Freed slaves were
prettified as personal servants and imprisoned in condescending
nicknames such as Zeno, Socrates or Pompey.
David, Liverpool and the English Slave Trade, in Tibbles, Anthony (ed.),
Transatlantic Slavery: Against Human Dignity, HMSO, 1994
- 73 It
is claimed that (Liverpool merchants) were more prepared than merchants
at other ports to supply slaves illegally to the colonies of other
nations, notably Spain and France.
75 . . . equipping ships
for a slaving voyage to Africa was expensive . . . a crew of up to
forty or fifty men . . . it appears that the cost of putting a
slave ship to sea . . . reach(ed) about £10 -12,000 by the end of the
(eighteenth) century. . . . about £200,000 a year was invested at
Liverpool in the slave trade around 1750. This sum may have risen to
£1,000,000 a year by 1800.
. . . most of the capital invested in the trade came from merchants,
tradesman and shipmasters living in Liverpool and adjacent towns. To
fund and organize voyages, these investors formed partnerships, the
membership of which ranged in most cases from about three to eight
individuals . . . most of the funding and organization . . .
revolved around a core of substantial and regular investors drawn mainly
from the elite of eighteenth-century Liverpool commercial families such
as the Blundells, Crosbies, Earles, Heywoods and Tarletons.
76 Overall returns on
investment in the trade seem . . . to have averaged about eight to
ten percent a year in the second half of the eighteenth century . . .
investment in the African trade helped to bring substantial wealth to
some of the principal Liverpool slave traders. . . John Tarleton . . .
mayor of the city in 1764, saw his fortune climb from £6,000 in 1748 to
nearly £80,000 in 1773. . . . Thomas Leyland . . . several times
mayor of Liverpool . . . was reputed to have been worth over
£736,000 just before his death in 1827. . . the slave trade also
brought employment and economic opportunities to many others in the city
and surrounding towns.
. . . the trade in enslaved Africans was a vital pillar in the
eighteenth century Liverpool economy, underpinning the substantial
increase in the city's trade and shipping and promoting closer
connections with the industrializing towns of Lancashire. . . .
Liverpool merchants were amongst the most vocal opponents of British
abolition of the slave trade in 1807.
G. M. English Social History, Penguin 1967
- 398 In
1775 the Norwich coach was waylaid in Epping Forest by seven highwaymen,
of whom the guard shot three dead before he was himself killed at his
404 In the census of
1801, Liverpool showed 78,000 inhabitants . . .The branch of American
trade especially belonging to Liverpool was the slave trade, which was
closely connected with cotton manufacture in Lancashire. More than
half the slaves carried across the Atlantic made the 'middle passage' in
the holds of English ships . . . .In 1771 as many as fifty-eight
'slavers' sailed from London, twenty-three from Bristol, and one hundred
and seven from Liverpool. They transported 50,000 slaves that
The following exchange took place on H-World, moderated
Pomerantz. Contributors: James Blaut, Ricardo Duchesne, R. J. Barendse
history of slavery, the slave trade, abolition and emancipation
[SLAVERY@LISTSERV.UH.EDU]; on behalf of; Steven H Mintz [SMintz@UH.EDU]
From: James Blaut
of Illinois, Chicago
Duchesne is dead wrong in saying that there is a "scholarly
" that colonial wealth and slavery were not basic
industrial revolution, and that the arguments of Eric Williams et al.
just passe. We've been around this block with him a few times on this
the conventional view but it has been , and is being, strongly
See e.g., Robin Blackburn, _The Making of New World Slavery_
pp. 371-568; J. Inikori, and S. Engerman, eds. _The Atlantic Slave
Effects on Economies, Societies, People..._, (1992), esp. chapters
R. Bailey, W. Darity, and Inikori; Article by J. Cuenca
Hist. Rev v57 (1997); and in the Solow/Engerman ed. volume cited
there are several chapters that contradict his argument: see esp.
by Richard Sheridan, Inikori, and Hillary Beckles.
of New Brunswick, St John
post to which you are responding below, I did acknowledge that
scholars are not part of this consensus, those who are still
pro-Williams and those (so-called "cliometricians") who think
the colonial trade was insignificant. In the pro-Williams camp, I
include Darity and Inikori, and in the cliometrician one,
and Donald McCloskey (indirectly, and perhaps not now that he
turned into a woman called Deidre, as I just read his editorial
of Pommeranz's book, but who knows?).
consensus is never absolute, it is worth noting that Solow and
now agree on the basic points. Yes, Engerman the author of that
1972 paper which showed that colonial profits were nowhere near
exaggerated figure of 30%. He, together with O'Brien, *now*
that there was much more to the colonial trade than profit
and their relation to capital formation in Britain; they recognize
this trade was quite significant in all sorts of ways, but it was
NOT sufficient. I would also include here Richardson.
this time I did not say that it was "neither necessary nor
- because it is really difficult, if not impossible, to
the British economy apart from its worldly connections. However,
because it is impossible to think of the human body functioning
a kidney, it does not follow that the kidney is the
"major cause" of the functioning of the body.
I don't know why Frank persists with the idea that the colonial
was the key source of British capital formation in the 18th century:
argument about the world economy does not require that it be. It
enough that it was a "ticket" (first class?) to the Asian
there's much more to WS theory than this question of profit
of Illinois, Chicago
cliometricians hold to the view that you espouse concerning the
insignificance of slavery, the slave plantation, the slave trade,
(profits, demand, settlement, raw materials, etc., etc.), and,
generally, "external" against "internal" forces in
revolution. See, for instance, papers by Brezis in Econ Hist.
1995, Cuenca-Esteban EHR 1997, Grantham (on France vis-a-vis England)
Econ. Hist 1989, and: on China, Flynn, Giraldez, Pomerance, Von Glahn,
Wong; on India , Arasaratnam, Subrahmanyam....etc.,
it is indeed true that many cliometrically inclined economic
argue against the significance of non-Europe in the IR by
analyzing data gleaned from European sources (English, mostly),
from sources biased to begin with either because of the source of the
or because the data do not include unrecorded facts ( e.g.,
then subject the data to assumptions from neo-classical
and end up with the conclusion that they wanted to arrive at to
with: insignificance of external factors in the IR.
main problem with cliometric analysis in economic history seems (to
be the fact that, when you work with bare-bones statistics, derived
very special and unrepresentative series, you are able to, as it
"prove anything with the statistics," because you are not
at a problem in a way that encompasses all of its historical
(and almost never gives you subaltern statistics!). Honest
historians have been led on occasion to make serious Eurocentric
because of the allure of available statistics.
things are changing. Today the situation is very different than it
say, 20 years ago because (a) evidence from non-European regions is
in, (b) this leads historians to re-evaluate the " internal"
(on the principle of the Emperor's Clothes); and (c) the general
of eurocentrism in history has opened the eyes (Emperor's Clothes
of scholars to the Eurocentric errors in earlier work. Some
oriented economic historians, like O'Brien, McCloskey, and
are wonderfully broadening their views. Others, like Eric L.
and David Landes have not yet done so.
R. J. Barendse
we had that argument before and as I pointed out before I would -
regarding Britain - not support his argument, as I pointed out
too. For if it is indeed difficult to show any direct connection
colonial wealth and direct investment in industry colonial wealth
play a major role in facilitating the mobilization of wealth by credit
Britain and - to an extent - Scotland (and in attracting foreign
... lest Ricardo complains I always pick on him I have to say IMHO
does have a good point in a comparative context.
Eric C. Maierhofer also pointed out, the link between colonial
and industrialization is a fairly uniquely British (and to an
US) phenomenon - other countries involved in the Atlantic
were not at all conspicuous because of their early
thus the kingdom of Denmark/Norway. While, on the other
many industrial 'early starters' had no colonial links. At least I
extremely difficult to link Wallonia to any colonial interests,
alone Silesia, the Rhineland, Bohemia or Turin.
the two Spanish region, which ought to have profited most from
colonies, namely Galicia (because of its close links to Spain's
plantation in the 19th century: Cuba) and, first and foremost,
(of course the port for the Americas for three centuries) have
the two poorest regions of the Iberian peninsula until today.
the two regions which were not much involved in the Americas
the Basque region and, first and foremost, Catalunha turned into
industrial powerhouses of the Peninsula by 1770.
Andalucian local historiography (which has flowered since the
has spent a massive amount of effort to explain why so little of
wealth generated in the America has stayed in Andalucia.
simple `provincially chauvinistic' explanation in which all wealth
either pulled to Castille or out of the country will simply not do.
was a specially favored region. Finally, the position of first
then Cadiz as exclusive ports for the carrera da India was an
choice of Madrid, so that Castille can hardly be accused of
impoverishing Andalucia. While, again, it also can not plausibly
accused of neglecting Spanish national interest to benefit its great
For in the eighteenth century the Bourbon government - far
welcoming foreign goods and investment - sought to stimulate its
by draconian tariffs. The administration in the eighteenth
can hardly be accused of not perceiving the problem of being
by foreign imports, then
- Andalucian historians have essentially argued that America
Andalucia in at least two ways. First, because of the
massive `drain' of manpower (literally `manpower' since it mostly
young men) from Andalucia, who also - unlike, say, the English
West Indies - permanently established themselves in America and
mostly did not remit funds home - to that extent Spain benefited less
the massive migration to America than, say, France did from its tiny
to the Caribbean. Second, because the capital needed to invest
Americas was huge - for remember that investment in the Americas
extremely long-term outlays (three years at least) far longer
were normal in Europe and was even then still a gamble - Andalucian
was essentially used as a `milk-cow' to obtain money to invest
Americas. And this capital was - if it came back at all -
in 'latifundias' rather than in trade or industry since
were a safe investment. Lest it be argued that's a typical
the supposed `anti-commercial' mentality of Spanish hidalgos or
remember that British planters from the West Indies were
behaving very differently in England. Furthermore, because these
were so long term and risky Andalucian small bankers were both
and unable to lend money so that instead banking was taken over
Genoese, Tuscan or South German bankers in the sixteenth century,
German, Flemish and still Genoese bankers in the eighteenth
(though we know far less about banking in Cadiz than we do about
This meant that - as prospective investors were often heavily in
after having obtained their initial capital by exploiting the
on their latifundias in Andalucia, investors in America would
send the profits on their investments to Hamburg, Genoa or Antwerp -
to anything but Andalucia and even Spain. (For even investment in
manufacturing industry in Catalunha was also mainly obtained from
rather than from funds from the Americas.)
the main reason why a simple link between colonial wealth and
will not do in a comparative context is the Portuguese
For, after all, if ONE country should have profited from the
in the Atlantic - particularly in the eighteenth
- it's Portugal. The Portuguese Empire was still the world's
largest dealer in slaves and Brasil was in the eighteenth century
world's biggest producer of gold and diamonds and (I believe also) of
next to being a major producer of cotton, indigo and increasingly
coffee too - and yet, of course, Portugal was then and still is the
country of western Europe besides Ireland.
one simple explanation for this would be (sanctioned by the authority
Boxer and I indeed have read that explanation on this list too)
the government (and church) in Portugal were simply 'stupid' and
all that wealth on churches or on the palace-monastery at Mafra
admittedly dwarves Versailles). And that the state hardly supported
allowing it to be out-priced by foreign competition. But
this may be sustained for the first half of the eighteenth
(for Portugal during the Brazilian gold boom had indeed an uncanny
to, say, Saudi Arabia in the 1970's). But it was certainly not
case during the period of 'dictator' Marques de Pombal (1755-1774)
the specialists know had been ambassador in London). Pombal was
worried about Portugal's industrial 'retardation' relative to
and amongst other things used the funds from the colonies to put
manufacturing workshops in Portugal. He also tried systematically to
imported with Portuguese manufactured goods be it by heavily
imports, be it by putting up commercial companies to give
Portuguese manufacturers a competitive edge. Nor was this
fully reversed after the removal of Pombal. The state was,
seriously concerned about the foreign competition and
industrial retardation. And had been since the sixteenth
Briefly - the idea that the Iberians willingly squandered their
wealth is simply a piece of the 'black legend'. Nor did Portugal
serious, responsible, administrators and highly capable economists -
physiocrats were busily discussed in eighteenth century Portugal and
were even special reviews and prices devoted to discussions on how
"improve the economy". The enlightenment Portuguese were far
subtle explanation has been put forward by Jorge Borges de Machedo
classic "Problemas da industria Portuguesa no seculo XVIII"
1961). The problem, Borges de Machedo has argued, was that
was a tiny and thinly populated country. Portuguese industry,
hardly disposed of a domestic market which was in any way
to that of France or even of Britain. Apart from this Portugal
still far from the rest of western Europe and the Tague really leads
Lisbon to ... nowhere. Portuguese products had thus to compete in a
European market where they were already burdened by
and had no real advantage either in technology or in
(For though there was a small putting-out industry in Beira
it could not really compete with that of Flanders or that of the
only product with which Portugal could compete were products of slaves
forced laborers from the colonies but these hardly contributed to the
of the metropolis - as, again, Portugal was too remote from
markets to establish, say, a cotton industry (although Brasil was, as
major producer of cotton) or a sugar-industry.
Portuguese agriculture and Portuguese infrastructure were
(70 km east of Lisbon you were basically back into an
Middle Age-style manorial system and the kingdom did not have a
good road). This was mainly - it seems - as virtually all money of
Portuguese state was spent - had to be spent - on infrastructure in
colonies rather than in the motherland (For if Brazil was making vast
other colonies like the Azores, Madeira, San Thome and India were
a heavy loss). And, furthermore, Portuguese investors were using
agriculture as 'milk-cow' of the colonies somewhat like in
it could be argued these disadvantages could have been
by import-substitution, which, indeed, was the policy during
Pombal-dictatorship when the Portuguese state sought to heavily tax
restrict foreign imports. Initiatives to develop manufacturing under
collapsed after his deposition from office, though. So that, in
of having followed all the recipes of the classical mercantilist
(and to some extent even of the dependista-economists
style) all efforts to stimulate industry did not lead to a
industrial take-off like in Britain in the same period (as
Portuguese were very much aware by 1790.)
although Borges de Machedo is undoubtedly partly right, we have
look into the cost-structure of Portuguese trade as has been
by the brilliant Brazilian historian Fernando Novais (see his
opus Portugal e Brasil no crise do antigo sistema colonial, Sao
follow Novais' argument, in a way the structure of exchange
the motherland and its Brazilian colony was a colonial paradox. As
motherland succeeded in running its trade as advantageous as possible
succeeded in very efficiently pricing itself out of the market.
central objective of the Portuguese government in Brasil - unlike,
example, of the British in the West Indies - was that the colonies
pay for themselves, while delivering products to Portugal for as
price as possible. And by the eighteenth century Portugal was by and
successful in that. Brazil could, indeed, pay its own expenses AND
deliver products to the motherland practically `for free' AND pay
expenses of the other colonies AND handsomely reward Portuguese
So that Portuguese merchants preferably invested in Brasil
of Portugal (or India). Portugal therefore obtained Brazilian
practically for free - meaning that (since Portugal could obtain
products in exchange for `free' Brazilian products) Portuguese
- which could not produce against Brazilian slave-labor - would
be under-sold by foreign competition. Brasil therefore very
course, Portuguese industry could conceivably have sold its products to
but here emerged the other paradox of Portuguese mercantilism. For
obtain the maximum revenue from Brasil Portugal had to squeeze the
as much as possible; and to obtain the cheapest possible products
Brasil and thus derive maximum revenues from the colony Portugal had
wages and, hence, purchasing power in Brasil as low as possible
Remember these products are 'free', so to obtain the most
rate of exchange and hence the most foreign products you have
them as cheaply as possible. Therefore - as practically the only
in these products was labor-costs (all other costs being fixed)
had to be kept as low as possible. Furthermore - to keep wage-levels
the plantation-sector the metropolis had also to restrict
and agriculture delivering to the plantations in
For - as Brasil was a small market and therefore manufacturing and
agriculture was suffering from high initial and entry-costs
would pull overall wage-levels up. Even counting transport-costs
was cheaper to sell 'free' foreign products in Brasil than having
manufactured or raised in Brasil.
that this was not all to the detriment of EVERY Brazilian as, because
market was so small it could also easily be monopolized, thus allowing
Brazilian and Portuguese elites to gather rent on their monopolies -
parts of the Brazilian market being cornered by monopoly-contractors
anything from playing-cards to tobacco. It was therefore in the best
of these monopoly contractors too to keep the population poor.
Portuguese economy was caught in a trap then - since it disposed of
Brazilian products Portuguese products were always undersold by
competition. Not only did no manufacturing industry develop but -
money for investing in the colonies was obtained from agriculture -
was actual de-investment from agriculture (and the infrastructure).
of course, from the hemorrhage out of the Portuguese countryside by
mass-emigration to Brasil. For Portugal with already only 1.3 million
- and I would grant this point to the black legend up to one
every eight people a 'unproductive' cleric - in addition sent hundreds
thousands of people to Brasil in the eighteenth century. And these,
mostly were young men. While Brasil was also caught in a trap
its entire economy was premised on trade. Yet the only products
which it could compete were products premised on low wages or
Therefore, the very structure of its exchange kept Brasil poor -
after the weathering of the gold-boom after about 1750 when
again mainly had to sell agricultural products with which it had to
with the slavery in the West Indies in addition. The two countries
to say caught in a downward spiral of mutual underdevelopment from
they have still not fully escaped.
repeat Maierhofer's point: sugar might certainly produce "obscene
of wealth for a growing capitalist system" (and let there be no
about it - the Portuguese Empire was in the eighteenth century the
of this growing capitalist system) but the circumstances which
the 'take-off' into self-sustained industrial growth were
British - the same wealth might also trap countries into
The - very extensive - literature on Pombal is only in Portuguese
Maxwell, Pombal: Paradox of the Enlightenment Cambridge, 1995 gives
excellent introduction to this historiography.
Millennium - all.
Barendse The Netherlands
Sorry this is not about Asia or about feudalism but I would under no
miss a good chance to praise Ricardo Duchesne.
to James Blaut, 7 February:
qualification that not all cliometricians have minimized the colonial
is correct. I was following O'Brien (1991) in this characterization,
I learned later, Solow (1985) and Darity have also used
models to support Williams's thesis. Brezis's 1995 paper is
strictly statistical. I could not find Cuenca-Esteban in EHR 1997.
and the others you mention do not concern this issue directly, so
leave them to the side.
certainly disagree with your claim that anyone who uses data against
thesis must be wrong simply because they are eurocentric and
they "subject the data to assumptions from neo-classical
and end up with the conclusion that they wanted to arrive at to
with: insignificance of external factors in the IR." First, the
equilibrium model" which Darity uses in his defense of the
thesis is a revised version of neoclassical trade models.
what is the conclusion Jim Blaut has always wanted to arrive at?
you ever given any attention to those facts which run against your
views? O'Brien has. And so has Solow, which may explain
concluded in 1987 that "slavery did not cause the IR, but played
active role in its pattern and timing".
Brezis's paper, remember that she is writing about the "inflows of
capital", which is not the same as the inflows of colonial
Here's Nash's summation of Brezis's contribution: "These capital
she further argues, while previously neglected, played a vital role
British industrialization as for most of this period they provided
one-third of total investment in the economy. Brezis's work
a strong challenge to the current orthodoxy about the causes of
industrialization, which sees the process as a home-grown product,
based on the technology, demand, and capital generated in the intermal
than the external economy. If Brezis is correct [and Nash thinks
statistical information is problematic] we are required to modify
views and to recognize that industrialization, at least with respect
financing of capital formation, was heavily influenced by forces
in the international as well as in the domestic economy" (EHR
qualify this remark by saying that the "orthodoxy" through the
was that foreign trade was the "engine of growth" of the
in the 18th, as only in the 80s did this view came under strong
Either way, I have no problem with Brezis's view: Foreign trade
(though not the) major factor in the industrialization of England.
us not forget that it was England which powered herself into a
of dominance in the world market.
on the History of Slavery, compiled by Eddie
Becker 1999, see on line at http://innercity.org/holt/slavechron.html)
English merchants form the Royal Company to exploit the African
slave trade. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager
from MS Bookshelf)
In 1660, the English government chartered a company called the
"Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa." At first
the company was mismanaged, but in 1663 it was reorganized. A new
objective clearly stated that the company would engage in the slave
trade. To the great dissatisfaction of England's merchants, only the
Company of Royal Adventurers could now engage in the trade.
The Company did not fare well, due mainly to the war with Holland,
and in 1667, it collapsed. But out of its ashes emerged a new
company: The Royal African Company
Founded in 1672, the Royal African Company was granted a similar
monopoly in the slave trade. Between 1680 and 1686, the Company
transported an average of 5,000 slaves a year. Between 1680 and
1688, it sponsored 249 voyages to Africa.
Still, rival English merchants were not amused. In 1698, Parliament
yielded to their demands and opened the slave trade to all. With the
end of the monopoly, the number of slaves transported on English
ships would increase dramatically -- to an average of over 20,000 a
year. By the end of the 17th century, England led the world in the
trafficking of slaves. (Timeline
from the PBS series Africans In America )
traders buy black slaves at 30 florins each in Angola and sell
15,000 per year in the Americas at 300 to 500 florins each. (The
People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf)
Jewish investment in the Dutch West India Company (WIC), which had a
monopoly of the Dutch slave trade in the 17th Century, Jews
accounted for a share of 1.3% of the founding capital. When the
Governor of New Amsterdam (now New York) attempted to bar the
entrance of Jewish refugees from Brazil, Jewish investors accounted
for about 4% of the investors in the WIC. Jews could not, of course,
participate in the management of the WIC. (Seymour Drescher citing
what will appear in a collective volume on Jews and the Expansion of
Europe to the West, forthcoming from Berghahn Books. From "The
history of slavery, the slave trade, abolition and
emancipation" SLAVERY@LISTSERV.UH.EDU> 20-AUG-1998
"Jews established their most significant niche in the trade
as purchasers of lower-priced slaves, or "refuse slaves."
These were usually the weakest or unhealthiest of the Africans who
landed in Jamaica. Such slaves were re-exported to colonial systems
in the islands, or to the South American coast. For a time Sephardic
Jews may have had a business advantage deriving from their
familiarity with the Spanish language and prior trade links to
"New Christian" merchants - descendants of Jews - in
mainland South American ports. In any event, Jews in Jamaica
purchased up to 6% or 7% of all Africans landed by the Royal African
Company at the end of the 17th century, just when their
co-religionists in London reached the peak of their own involvement
with the trade." (Review by Seymour Drescher in the foreword
01/06/99 of a book by Eli Faber, "A Painstaking Rebuttal To an
Incendiary Charge" A Historian Sets the Record Straight on
Slavery) (Jews, Slaves, and the Slave Trade: Setting the Record
Straight 1998 New York University Press)
opens the slave trade to British merchants, who will in some cases
carry on a triangular trade from New England to Africa to the
Caribbean islands to New England. The merchant vessels will carry
New England rum to African slavers, African slaves on "the
middle passage" to the West Indies, and West Indian sugar and
molasses to New England for the rum distilleries. (The People's
Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf)
The colonists imported their manufactured goods from Britain,
payment for which had to be made in sterling funds. The colonists
gained control over sterling funds as the result of their exports.
In the Southern colonies trade between the colonies and Great
Britain was direct. A Virginia planter might export his tobacco to
Britain, consigning it to a commission merchant who would sell it
and place the proceeds to the Virginia planters account. The
proceeds produced a fund of sterling money upon which the Virginia
planter might draw. Perhaps he accompanied the shipment of his
tobacco with an order for goods. His correspondent in Britain would
buy the goods and debit his account for the cost. The goods would
then be shipped to the colony when the tobacco ships again returned
to Virginia. Here no more than a bookkeeping transaction was
necessary. If, however, the Virginia planter wished to transfer some
of his balance with his London correspondent to Virginia for use in
the colony, he might draw a bill of exchange on his correspondent
for, say, £100 sterling. The bill was in the nature of an order to
his correspondent to pay £100 sterling. The planter then sold the
bill at the going rate of exchange to a fellow Virginian who had
need of sterling funds to pay an obligation in Britain. The
purchaser forwarded the bill to his creditor in Britain, who
presented it to the correspondent of the Virginia planter for
acceptance--for the custom was to draw bills of exchange payable
thirty days after sight. If the correspondent accepted the bill, the
creditor then held it for thirty days, at the end of which time he
presented it for payment. The rate at which sterling bills were sold
in the colonies was determined at any one time by the effective
supply of, and demand for, sterling bills.
A British bill designed to restrict the number of slaves carried by
each ship, based on the ship's tonnage, was enacted by Parliament on
June 17, 1788; and that year the French abolitionists, inspired by
their English counterparts, founded the Société des Amis des Noirs
(Society of the Friends of Blacks). Finally in 1807, the British
Parliament passed an act prohibiting British subjects from engaging
in the slave trade after March 1, 1808 -16 years after the Danes had
abolished their trade. In 1811 slave trading was declared a felony
punishable by transportation (exile to a penal colony) for all
British subjects or foreigners caught trading in British
possessions. Britain then assumed most of the responsibility for
abolishing the transatlantic slave trade, partly to protect its
sugar colonies. In 1815 Portugal accepted £750,000 to restrict the
trade to Brazil; and in 1817 Spain accepted £400,000 to abandon the
trade to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo. In 1818 Holland and
France abolished the trade. After 1824, slave trading was declared
tantamount to piracy, and until 1837 participants faced the penalty
of death. ("Blacks in Latin America," Microsoft Encarta
98 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation.)
Economics of the African Slave Trade
- In Christopher
Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust, John Henrik Clarke asserts that
the voyages of Christopher Columbus marked the starting point of world
capitalism and the beginning of Europe's colonial domination of the
world. Columbus set in motion an act of criminality that influences our
very life today. Clarke described the period between 1400-1600 as the
point in history when Europe freed itself from the lethargy of the
Middle Ages. During this period, Europe witnessed the renewal of
nationalism as well as the political transformation from feudalism to
nation states through the centralization of power by the monarchs. The
African slave trade played an important role in the stabilization of
Europe's economy, its transition to capitalism, the development of the
nation state, and the establishment of their imperial empires. The
opening of the Atlantic led to the development of Europe's commercial
empire and industrial revolution.
Ghana was the headquarters of the African slave trade, Tropical America
was the real center of the trade. Thirty-six of the forty-two slave
fortress were located in Ghana. Aside from Ghana, slaves were shipped
from eight coastal regions in Africa including Senegambia, Sierra Leone,
Ivory Coast and Liberia region, Gold Coast, Bight of Benin, Bight of
Biafra, Central Africa, and Southeast Africa (from the Cape of Good Hope
to the Cape of Delgado, including Madagascar). The slave trade had the
greatest impact upon central and western African. According to James
Rawley, West Africa supplied 3/5ths of the slaves for exportation
between 1701-1810. Half of the slaves were exported to South America,
42% to the Caribbean Islands, 7% to British North America, and 2% to
continuing demand for African slaves' labor arose from the development
of plantation agriculture, the long-term rise in prices and consumption
of sugar, and the demand for miners. Not only did Africans represent
skilled laborers, but they were also experts in tropical agriculture.
Consequently, they were well-suited for plantation agriculture. The high
immunity of Africans to malaria and yellow fever compared with Europeans
and the indigenous peoples made them more suitable for tropical labor.
While white and red labor were used initially, Africans were the final
solution to the acute labor problem in the New World.
economic systems which dominated the African slave trade reflected the
transitions in Europe's economic systems. Initially, mercantilist views
characterized the conduct of the slave trade. The primary purpose of
mercantilism, an economic system which developed during the transition
of Europe from feudalism to nation-states, was to unify and increase the
power and monetary wealth of a nation through strict government
regulation of the national economy. Therefore, 16th century organization
of the trade was entrusted to a company which was given the sole right
by a particular nation to trade slaves and to erect and maintain forts.
However, these monopolistic companies had two major opponents: the
planter in the colonies, who complained of insufficient quantity and
poor quality of high priced slaves, and the merchants at home. The
failure of monopolies to deliver enough slaves led to free trade in the
18th century. While it is easy to analyze the various economic systems
utilized in the African slave trade, it is far more difficult to
determine a precise estimate of how profitable the trade was.
slave trade was one of the most important business enterprises of the
17th century. The nation states of Europe stabilized themselves and
developed their economy mainly at the expense of African people. During
the latter half of the century; Colbert, a Frenchman, stated that,
"no commerce in the world produces as many advantages as that of
the slave trade" (Williams, From Columbus to Castro, 144). The
wealth of the New World in the form of sugar, tobacco, metals, gold,
cotton, etc. was extracted by African labor and then exported from the
colonies through the capitalistic enterprise of western Europe. Western
Europe drew profits from the trade in slaves, commodities produced,
service of shipping, the develop of new industries based on processing
raw materials, financing, and insurance. According to Eric Williams, no
other commerce required so large a capital as the slave trade which kept
the wheels of metropolitan industry turning. Cities such as Liverpool,
Amsterdam, and Bristol were built upon slave labor. The capital and raw
materials derived from the African slave trade contributed significantly
to the Commercial and Industrial revolution. According to James Rawley,
the "black slavery was essential to the carrying on of commerce,
which in turn was fundamental to the making of the modern world" (TransAtlantic
Slave Trade, 4). In other words, the modern world was built upon the
blood, sweat, and tears of our African ancestors.
Louis Proyect and George Snedeker draw attention to
the work of Oliver C. Cox, Eric Williams, Eduardo Galeano, Mariategui,
Walter Rodney, CLR James, Cesaire and Amin on the origins and structure of
Origins and structure of capitalism: Louis Project and George Snedeker
marxism-digest Sunday, June 3 2001 Volume 01 : Number 3566
Date: Sat, 02 Jun 2001 21:04:37 -0400
From: Louis Proyect <email@example.com
Subject: Re: origins and structure of capitalism
George ("George Snedeker" <firstname.lastname@example.org)
I would like to recommend the work of Oliver C.
Cox on the origins and structure of the capitalist world system. Cox
is perhaps better known, if he is known at all, for his CASTE, CLASS
AND RACE which he
published in 1948. In this work he presents a Marxist theory of racism. However, I would like to recommend his three volume
study of the capitalist world system: THE ORIGINS OF CAPITALISM
(1959), CAPITALISM AND AMERICAN LEADERSHIP (1962) and CAPITALISM AS A
SYSTEM (1964). All of these are out of print. Cox made a strong
argument that primitive accumulation and imperialism were permanent
features of capitalism. He was writing at the same time Amin was
working on his WORLD ACCUMULATION. His over all discussion should be
of interest. I doubt very much if any of his work is available on a web page.
It might also be obvious that Oliver C. Cox was an
African-American. Isn't it
interesting that some of the most original thinking around these
questions have come from Africans, African-Americans and Latin Americans
like Eric Williams, Eduardo Galeano, Mariategui, Walter Rodney, CLR
James, Cesaire, Amin, et al. Do you think it might have something to do
with the harsh reality of capitalism in the 3rd world?
Louis Proyect Marxism mailing list: <http://www.marxmail.org/
Selwyn H. H. The Sugar Industry and the Abolition of the Slave Trade,
1775–1810. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002. 394pp. $59.95
review in the International Third World Studies Journal and Review, Volume
XV, 2004 Thomas C. Buchanan writes: Sixty years after the publication of Eric
Williams’ Capitalism and Slavery the debate over the cause of the
British anti-slavery movement still rages. Did the decline of the profitability
of slavery in the British West Indies provide the material conditions necessary
for an effective abolitionist movement to rise? Or was abolition caused (by) a
moral revolution in the English populace that overcame a profitable trade and
the West Indian interests that represented it? The writings of revisionist
historians Seymour Drescher and David Brion Davis have argued strongly against
the Marxist interpretation. (Carrington) . . . offers a meticulously researched
and convincing rebuttal to these scholars.
John Henrik. Christopher Columbus & the Afrikan holocaust: slavery &
Barbara L. British capitalism and Caribbean slavery: the legacy of Eric
Williams. Studies in interdisciplinary history. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]; New
York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
European capitalism. Brooklyn, N.Y.: A & B Brooks, c1992.
Elizabeth and Eugene D. Genovese, Fruits of merchant capital: slavery and
bourgeois property in the rise and expansion of capitalism Oxford University
Eric, Capitalism and Slavery (London: André Deutsch, 1964),