Williams Thesis On Slavery

Williams Thesis On Slavery-24
Finally, my wife was of great assistance to me in taking my notes and typing the manuscript. In the first cate- gory fell the Northern colonies of the American mainland; in the second, the mainland tobacco colonies and the sugar islands of the Caribbean. In colonies of the latter type, as Merivale pointed out, land and capital were both useless unless labor could be commanded.

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Without this compulsion, the laborer would otherwise exercise his natural inclination to work his own land and toil on his own account.

The story is frequently told of the great English capitalist, Mr.

Peel, who took 50,000 and three hundred laborers with him to the Swan River colony in Australia.

His plan was that his laborers would work for him, as in the old country.

The book, however, is not an essay in ideas or interpreta- tion. Neither the papal arbitration nor the formal treaty was in- tended to be binding on other powers, and both were in fact repudiated.

It is strictly an economic study of the role of Negro slavery and the slave trade in providing the capital which financed the Industrial Revolution in England and of mature industrial capitalism in destroying the slave system. Cabot's voyage to North America in 1497 was Eng- 3 4 CAPITALISM AND SLAVERY land's immediate reply to the partition. 8 "Odious resource" though it might be, as Merivale called it, 9 slavery was an economic institution of the first im- portance. It had been the basis of Greek economy and had built up the Roman Empire. 7 For the Caribbean colonies the solution for this dispersion and "earth-scratching" was slavery. The lesson of the early history of Georgia is instructive. 6 Labor, that is, must be constant and must work, or be made to work, in co-operation. In such colonies the rugged individualism of the Massachusetts farmer, ORIGIN OF NEGRO SLAVERY 5 practising his intensive agriculture and wringing by the sweat of his brow niggardly returns from a grudging soil, must yield to the disciplined gang of the big capitalist practising exten- sive agriculture and producing on a large scale. 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. But in the early stages of colonial devel- opment, other things are not equal. When slavery is adopted, it is not adopted as the choice over free labor; there is no choice at all.


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