Slavery and the opening up of the New World go hand in hand. Whether it be the mining of the silver and gold caches in the Mexican interior or the farming of sugar cane in the Caribbean islands, the riches appropriated by the Europeans from the new world were made possible on a large scale due to the ever flowing supply of free slave labor. The slave trade was an integral part of this global process where suppliers, producers, inputs and outputs fueled an extensive competitive trading network and what could arguably be the earliest stage of world-wide economic interaction. The complexity of the slave trade system, high initial costs, and the problems that could possibly arise in Europe, the African Coast, and in the New World, fraught merchants with all types of risks and therefore created varying levels of profitability depending on the voyage. After taking into account these various definite and possible expenditures it is realized that the excepted wisdom that the slave trade was consistently highly profitable to be untrue. Though the trade was not as profitable as some have made it out to be, it was an essential part of Europe's economic spurt during this time period.
[...] For example, during the 1680s, the height of the Royal African Company's percentage supply of slaves to the British Caribbean, they only supplied 68 percent of the total slaves. Rawley. Page 215-216 Graham, Frank.1969. Liverpool and Slavery. Liverpool. A Bowker & Son, Booksellers. Pg 16. Rawley, James A The Transatlantic Slave Trade. Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press. Pg 218 Harms Ibid. Page 84 Rawley. Pg 221 Postma, Johannes The Atlantic Slave Trade. London. Greenwood Press. Pg 44 Harms. Pg 75 %*+/Anstey. Pg 43 [...]
[...] This led to significant overstatements of the actual profit earned by slave traders. For example the voyage of the Lottery claimed to have sold slaves at a profit of a little over per slave. Yet, because costs of the voyage had not be factored in profits had actually been a little over per slave. This example not only illustrates the enormous costs of operating the ship, but also demonstrates the overstatement and, therefore, society's overestimation of slave trading profits. Though the slave ship financiers took on a good amount of risk and invested large sums of capital they would never be able to witness or carry out the actual transactions that were supposedly going to make them rich. [...]
[...] Rawley, James A The Transatlantic Slave Trade. Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press. Richardson, David: The Slave Trade, Sugar and British Economic Growth 1747- 1776, Journal of Interdisciplinary History p Williams, Eric E Capitalism and Slavery. Chapel Hill. University of North Carolina Press. Anstey, Robert The Atlantic Slave Trade and British Abolition. London. Cox & Wyman Ltd. Pg 39 Harms, Robert The Diligent. New York. Basic Books. Pg 37 Rawley, James A The Transatlantic Slave Trade. Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press. [...]
[...] Solow argues against Engerman who in 1972 estimated the slave trade profits for a series of years and compared them to, among other things, British national income to show that the slave trade couldn't have had such an impact on British economic growth as Williams claims. According to Engerman's calculations of British national income consisted of slave trade profits in 1710, a figure which increased to in 1770. The slave trade profits also accounted for (1710) and (1770) of the total investment, while the same numbers for commercial and industrial investment amounted to (1710) and (1770). Solow fairly loosely compares the 1770 figures to those of 1980, and finds that they are in fact not as small as Engerman suggests; in her own words, “they are enormous”. [...]
[...] Without the integral part of the slave trade and therefore the nonexistence of the African market for both Britain's products and the supply of slaves the whole global economic system of this time period would have been severely diminished. Williams noted that the profits and funds generated by the triangular trade funded three specific areas necessary for the British industrial revolution to take off, banking, heavy industry and insurance. Though the slave trade may have not be the sole catalyst as he claims that must not be inferred that the triangular trade was solely and entirely responsible for the economic development” the profits generated from it were still significant enough to play a role in the economic burst of the later 18th and 19th centuries. [...]
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