British Slavery and Its Abolition, 1823-1838

British Slavery and Its Abolition, 1823-1838

British Slavery and Its Abolition, 1823-1838

British Slavery and Its Abolition, 1823-1838

Excerpt

Slave labour in the West Indies was employed mainly in the production of sugar; and, before we examine the condition of the British slaves, it will be well to review the development of an industry in which about two- thirds of them were engaged.

The colonial system which was established or consolidated by the English Navigation Act of 1660 was based on the principle that dependencies must contribute to the cost of their defence, partly by employing only British ships and seamen, and partly by confining their commerce to British ports. The latter method could be applied only with obvious limitations to most of the North American colonies, which, with a European population and a temperate climate, were capable of being rivals as well as customers; and it was only in the West Indies that the parent State could venture to go the whole length of its double monopoly, engrossing commodities which she did not herself produce and exchanging for them the products of her own furnaces and looms. Slavery, recruited from Africa and devoted exclusively to the cultivation of tropical plants, was lauded by a writer of 1745 as "the great pillar and support of the British plantation trade," because it enriched the mother country . . .

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