Williams Thesis On Slavery

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A person who can acquire no property can have no other in- terest than to eat as much, and to labour as little as possible." 11 Adam Smith thereby treated as an abstract proposition what is a specific question of time, place, labor and soil.

The eco- nomic superiority of free hired labor over slave is obvious even to the slave owner.


RICHMOND, VIRGINIA To Professor Lowell Joseph Ragatz Whose monumental labors in this field may be amplified and developed but can never be superseded PREFACE THE PRESENT STUDY is an attempt to place in historical per- spective the relationship between early capitalism as exemplified by Great Britain, and the Negro slave trade, Negro slavery and the general colonial trade of the seventeenth and eighteenth cen- turies. Conclusion 209 Notes 213 Bibliography 262 Index 2ji ix Capitalism & Slavery I THE ORIGIN OF NEGRO SLAVERY WHEN IN 1492 COLUMBUS, representing the Spanish monarchy, discovered the New World, he set in train the long and bitter international rivalry over colonial possessions for which, after four and a half centuries, no solution has yet been found.

It is there- fore first a study in English economic history and second in VU Vlll PREFACE West Indian and Negro history. Francis I of France voiced his celebrated protest: "The sun shines for me as for others.

It is not a study of the institu- tion of slavery but of the contribution of slavery to the de- velopment of British capitalism. The staffs of the follow- ing institutions were very kind and helpful to me: British Museum; Public Record Office; India Office Library; West India Committee; Rhodes House Library, Oxford; Bank of England Record Office; the British Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society; Friends' House, London; John Rylands Library, Manchester; Central Library, Manchester; Public Library, Liverpool; Wilberforce Museum, Hull; Library of Congress; Biblioteca Nacional, Havana; Sociedad Economica de Amigos del Pai's, Havana. I should very much like to see the clause in Adam's will that excludes me from a share of the world." The king of Denmark refused to accept the Pope's ruling as far as the East Indies were concerned. Wilberforce regarded the Tsar's importation of Brazilian produce after his promise to boycott it as "a breach of faith of which any private NOTES TO PAGES 189-193 257 man who should be guilty would forfeit for ever the character of a man of honor." Liverpool Papers, Add. Herskovits of Northwestern University, very kindly read the manuscript and made many suggestions. According to Adam Smith, the prosperity of a new colony depends upon one simple economic factor "plenty of good land." 3 The British colonial possessions up to 1776, however, can broadly be divided into two types. Wilberforce later admitted that "we have had the religious char- acter of Alexander the Great represented to us ... So did my senior colleague at Howard University, Professor Charles Burch. Vincent Harlow, now Rhodes Professor of Imperial History in the University of London, supervised my doctoral dissertation at Oxford and was always very helpful. G September 12, 1943 CONTENTS CHAPTCR PAGE Preface vii 1 . The first is the self-sufficient and diversified economy of small farmers, "mere earth- scratchers" as Gibbon Wakefield derisively called them, 4 living on a soil which, as Canada was described in 1840, was "no lot- tery, with a few exorbitant prizes and a large number of blanks, but a secure and certain investment." 5 The second type is the colony which has facilities for the production of staple articles on a large scale for an export market. in too favourable colours." To Lady Olivia Sparrow, May 31, 1814. I wish to thank the Newberry Li- brary, Chicago, for its kindness in making it possible for me, through an inter-library loan with Founders' Library, Howard University, to see Sir Charles Whitworth's valuable statistics on "State of the Trade of Great Britain in its imports and ex- ports, progressively from the year 1697-1773." My research has been facilitated by grants from different sources: the Trinidad Government, which extended an original scholarship; Oxford University, which awarded me two Senior Studentships; the Beit Fund for the study of British Colonial History, which made two grants; and the Julius Rosenwald Foundation, which awarded me fellowships in 19. Ragatz of George Washington University in this city, Professor Frank W. Sir William Cecil, the famous Elizabe- than statesman, denied the Pope's right "to give and take king- doms to whomsoever he pleased." In 1580 the English govern- ment countered with the principle of effective occupation as the determinant of sovereignty. ." 2 Eng- land, France, and even Holland, began to challenge the Iberian Axis and claim their place in the sun. Pitman of Pomona College, Claremont, California, and Professor Melville J. 1 Thereafter, in the parlance of the day, there was "no peace below the line." It was a dispute, in the words of a later governor of Barbados, as to "whether the King of England or of France shall be monarch of the West Indies, for the King of Spain cannot hold it long. The Negro, too, was to have his place, though he did not ask for it: it was the broiling sun of the sugar, tobacco and cotton plantations of the New World. He wrote^a strong letter to the Tsar on the subject. In modern times it provided the sugar for the tea and the coffee cups of the Western world. It pro- duced the cotton to serve as a base for modern capitalism. Arrived in Australia, however, where land was plentiful too plentiful the laborers preferred to work for themselves as small proprietors, rather than under the capitalist for wages. Austra- lia was not England, and the capitalist was left without a serv- ant to make his bed or fetch him water. Every age rewrites history, but particularly ours, which has been forced by events to re-evaluate our conceptions of history and economic and political development. The "Commercial Part of the Nation" and Slavery 169 n. Portu- gal, which had initiated the movement of international expan- sion, claimed the new territories on the ground that they fell within the scope of a papal bull of 1455 authorizing her to re- duce to servitude all infidel peoples. The progress of the Industrial Revolution has been treated more or less ade- quately in many books both learned and popular, and its lessons are fairly well established in the consciousness of 'the educated class in general and of those people in particular who are re- sponsible for the creation and guidance of informed opinion. The Development of British Capitalism, 1783-1833 126 8. The two powers, to avoid controversy, sought arbitration and, as Catholics, turned to the Pope a natural and logical step in an age when the universal claims of the Papacy were still unchallenged by individuals and governments.


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