BBC - History - British History in depth: Enslavement and Industrialisation
The relationship between slavery, colonialism, capital accumulation and economic that profits from slavery helped to fertilize the British Industrial Revolution. Although the importation of slaves continued to grow as new plantations were developed, it was the industrial revolution that would have the most profound. Did slavery galvanise the Industrial Revolution? By Robin What contribution did the slave-based trade with the Americas make to the.
They no longer produced the food they ate or the clothes they wore. The better-off bought fine wines or oriental silks. But even the day labourer could buy tobacco and sugar. Merchants met this new demand by setting up slave plantations in Virginia and the Caribbean. While there was a growing taste for exotic stimulants and luxuries, consumers had little idea of the terrible human cost involved in their production. But those directly engaged in the Atlantic slave trade or plantations certainly knew of the terrible loss of life and the unrelenting toil of slavery.
Planters and merchants bought Africans partly because they were better than white people at surviving in the tropics, and partly because they could deprive their African captives of any rights.
White servants were badly treated too, but there were limits when abuse exposed them to legal action and personal censure from their neighbours.
Non-slaving colonists sometimes objected to the growing power of slave-owners, but it was fatally easy to let the Africans do all the harshest work.
The planters soon discovered that they could play on white fears to construct a thoroughly commercial and racial version of an old institution - slavery. His thesis has focused decades of debate and controversy. It correctly identified the very great intimacy in 18th-century Britain between making money from slavery on the one hand, and the financing of British capitalist development, on the other.
On the sugar estates the mills were kept going 24 hours a day, with enslaved people working hour shifts British capitalism was a cause rather than consequence of slave plantation development. But the fit between slave plantation growth and industrial advance in Britain was to be impressive and sustained. The plantation colonies supplied the mother country with a growing stream of popular luxuries - dyestuffs, sugar, tobacco, then later coffee and chocolate as well - and cotton, a crucial industrial input.
The availability of such treats drew consumers into greater participation in market exchanges and greater reliance on wages, salaries and fees.
Baiting the hook of wage dependence, new consumer goods helped to motivate what some historians call the 'industrious revolution', the longer hours and tight labour control associated with industrialism.
The slave plantations themselves anticipated the intense organisation of labour, with coerced slave gangs working under the eye and whip of the slave driver. On all slave plantations hours of work were very long, but on the sugar estates the mills were kept going hours-a -day, with enslaved people working at night as well, in hour shifts.
The slave plantation colonies of the Americas not only supplied premium commodities, but were a captive market for metal tools, textiles and provisions. Indeed, the British empire of the early and midth century became a zone of thriving trade in which the ability of New England and Newfoundland to sell provisions to the West Indies, and to participate in the Africa trade, also boosted their ability to buy English manufactures.
The boom in Atlantic produce also underpinned a huge programme of commercial ship-building and maintenance, with about a third of the English mercantile fleet being built in the North American colonies. Top Slave-related trade British merchants and manufacturers had a growing home market, growing colonial outlets and an ability to penetrate - legally or otherwise - the colonial and home markets of their rivals.
According to him, from the 16th century the transatlantic trade widely dominated the foreign exchanges of Europe, progressing from 1. Furthermore, the trade of tropical products represented a business volume ten times greater than the slave trade.
But the majority of goods exported by the American colonies was produced by black slaves: And thanks to the power of its navy, England had been able to lay its hands on a determining share of this trade, beginning with the slave trade itself, which was to be replaced, after the abolition of slavery, by the trade in wood, palm oil, guano Namibia and Gum Senegal.
In a period dominated by mercantile policies, European metropolises tried their best to generate a surplus in their business with overseas colonies. And so, from tothe increase of foreign trade was responsible for over half of British industrial growth: According to Inikori, from to This percentage was higher still for leading goods of the first industrialization textiles, metallurgy, and so on.
In the s, for example, two-thirds of British cotton exports were intended for the West Indies and Western Africa. The Napoleonic wars thus represented somewhat of a test: They also led to an accelerated development of services linked to transport, banking, insurances and trade, in response, for instance, to the growing credit needs of transatlantic trade bills of exchange and government securities. In spite of this major historiographical turning point, a number of French historians nevertheless continued, in a quite Weberian view, to reject all decisive links between slave trade profits and slave labor on the one hand, and modern industrialization on the other.
Importance of the slave trade to the British economy
Profits made were indeed invested in bricks and mortar, in land and in trade, not in industry. Interrelationships in human history do not always work so openly and crudely. Slavery, the Slave Trade and the Industrial Revolution — Jean Batou - 13 - Empire led many authors to refuse to recognize this very first take-off as a premise of the Industrial Revolution from the 18th century on.
By comparing somewhat flippantly the 11 to 13 million Africans conveyed by slave ships during the four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade63 to the 7.
Enslavement and Industrialisation
At the opposite, Paul Bairoch states a bracket as high as 14 to 15 million Economics and World History. Myths and Paradoxes, New York, etc. Marc Ferro, sous la e e dir. Slavery, the Slave Trade and the Industrial Revolution — Jean Batou - 14 - evolution of these two large centers importing slaves. By doing so, however, they omit essential differences.
It provoked widespread revolts, the largest of which lasted from to and put paid to the mass exploitation of black labour in the Arab world. So what part did the slave trade and transatlantic trade play in the appearance of the Industrial Revolution in England, as well as in Western Europe? Without a doubt a decisive part if we take into account the complex modalities of the primitive accumulation of capital by European traders and financiers, notably in the vast domain of the Atlantic economy, just after the Voyages of Discovery.
American Journal of Human Genetics, May74 5pp.
Slavery, the Slave Trade and the Industrial Revolution — Jean Batou - 16 - development of employed labor, particularly in the 18th century. While understanding the general process, we must still acknowledge a third order of causes: Indeed — and this cannot be said often enough — before adhering to liberalism, political authorities, even in England, played an essential role in the regulation of the conditions of the economic, social and political emergence of industrial capitalism.
Thus, if there is an evident genetic connection between the American plantation and the European plant, its explanation is complex and shies away from any simplistic approach. This intrinsic difficulty is made still greater by the sulphurous aura surrounding the issue, since Marx, in highly-regarded pages, considered it to be a central element of the primitive accumulation of capital: Morgan's purpose is to enquire into connections between the growth of the Atlantic empire and the development of the British economy between and His goal is "to keep students and teachers abreast of the leading debates" but also to produce a synthesis that "has something of its own to say" and that is, therefore, a contribution to "an ongoing discourse about the economic benefits of imperial trade and slavery" p.
Specifically, he seeks to address three questions.
Fuelling the Industrial Revolution | Revealing Histories
What financial rewards did Britain reap from slavery and Atlantic trade in the century or so after ? To what extent did the gains from such activity stimulate British industrialization? And how far did the Atlantic trading complex provide an impetus for economic change in Britain? As Morgan admits these "seemingly straightforward questions … are not susceptible to easy answers".
His search for answers to these questions leads Morgan to explore various issues as he reminds us that British Atlantic trade not only grew substantially in scale and relative importance between and but also became "more complex, specialized and interdependent". Two chapters deal specifically with the relationship between the profits and wealth generated by slavery and the American plantation complex and British capital accumulation and industrial investment.
In another chapter he explores linkages between American markets and British industry, arguing that "a strong case" can be made for exports to America "as a generator of growth in the second half of the eighteenth century" p. In yet further chapters he focuses on the impact of Atlantic trade on British financial institutions and commercial practices and on the economic fortunes of particular British ports, notably Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and London.
In the course of his discussion, he accepts that Eric Williams and his followers probably exaggerated the profitability of the slave trade and slave plantation complex. He also makes a plea for more detailed studies of slave prices sometimes used to estimate slave trade profits and of financial links between trade and industry, while also suggesting that the links between slavery, colonial trade and British industrialization extended well beyond issues of capital accumulation.