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Capitalism and Slavery

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  361 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Slavery helped finance the Industrial Revolution in England. Plantation owners, shipbuilders, and merchants connected with the slave trade accumulated vast fortunes that established banks and heavy industry in Europe and expanded the reach of capitalism worldwide. Eric Williams advanced these powerful ideas in "Capitalism and Slavery," published in 1944. Years ahead of its ...more
Paperback, 307 pages
Published October 14th 1994 by University of North Carolina Press (first published 1944)
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I enjoyed the marginalia in this book just as much as the text itself; evidently, previous readers took great exception to Williams' thesis that capitalism, not racism, was the driving force behind the development of West Indian slavery and the slave trade. Although I too am doubtful that a racist logic wasn't anterior to slavery (even if, as another reviewer writes, "race" is not a transhistorical concept), these readers seemed to assign to Williams the position that because slavery was first a ...more
George Roper
You will hear it often said that British West Indian (BWI) slavery was ended because it was no longer profitable for the slave owners. That assertion was always seemed paradoxical to me. Eric Williams explains in a logical, dispassionate and cogent manner the real truths, which are this:
1) BWI slavery was instituted to meet the needs of the mercantile impulses of the 17th century (and which reached their peak in the 18th century) - in the end, commercial considerations also played a major part i
Every Trini should read this book..
Okan Ergul
Williams bu eserinde gerçek ve derin bir tarihçi emeği ortaya koymuş. İngiliz kapitalizminin köle ticareti ve köle emeğiyle iç içe yükselişini öğretici bir şekilde ortaya koyuyor. Konuyu daha çok ekonomik ve finansal boyutlarıyla ortaya koyuyor, ama tabii ki bu kendisinin de mensubu olduğu siyah ırkın kölelikten çektiklerine duyarsız olduğu anlamına gelmiyor. Zaten bu ve benzeri eserleri İngiliz akademik çevrelerinde bir dışlanma yaşamasına yol açmış. Eser İngiltere örneğini temel almakla birlik ...more
I've read this book several times, as a graduate student and professor, and I have always found fault with the arguments. I don't disagree that economics plays a part in abolition but that isn't the whole story. His arguments are a bit obtuse, and his tone entirety reflective of the time in which he wrote this. That said, this book is a classic and should be read by any student of the Atlantic World.
Jun 26, 2014 Baris rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: comps
This is one of the best books I have read during my graduate studies. Williams make a powerful case for the connection between slavery and capitalism, arguing that institution of slavery funded, or more accurately, made the necessary concentration of capital possible for the start of industrial capitalism in Britain. (I think crucial and the most impressive of the book is the section where he shows that the considerable number of early industrialists possessed slaves in the overseas or directly ...more
The argument is simple: slavery helped in financing the British Industrial revolution via capital mobility and large scale investments and it was abandoned when it stopped being profitable. Whether the conclusion is true or false, this book remains a very serious economic analysis of slavery. It was written in 1944 and it's mostly focused around the British West Indies. It's also very cynical, with subtle commentary on the commodity status of human beings that would made any person's skin crawl. ...more
A classic text, and a must-read for anyone interested in the topic of slavery.
This is a research book first and foremost. The main point of the book is that without slavery there is no capitalism. This is the book that convinced me to go back to school and get a degree in economics. While maybe not riveting it certainly is an information packed book that backs up its argument really well.
Trashy Pit
The Atlantic Slave Trade provided the investment capital needed to fund the development of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe. It's all here. Williams was the first to lay it all out. As a result, mainstream "historians" attacked and marginalized him. But he was basically right.
Beth Barnett
Explanation of how the North was dependent on slavery in the South to develop its economy and to industrialize. Also discusses the complicity of North and South in the Triangle Trade between West Africa, the Caribbean, and the US during the centuries of slavery in America.
Apr 19, 2007 Elena is currently reading it
haven't read it yet but it's on my list of top 2 to read next. i don't know what the other book is on the list, so really this is the next one i'm reading. then i'll let you know. was recommended to me by a friend.
Scott Smith
Interesting research, though a bit dated, it certainly shows its age. I wish he went more into the economics of America but it was mostly about the economics of slavery with regards to Britain.
John Armwood
Excellent. This should be required reading for every student studying the history of European and North and South American economics.
A classic must read for the history of who's who is slavery, not to mention the how, what, where and why.
William Warbucks
One of the two most important books I've read in my lifetime.
One of my two greatest books of all-time.
Eugene Plawiuk
Must read
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“Here, then, is the origin of Negro slavery. The reason was economic, not racial; it had to do not with the color of the laborer, but the cheapness of the labor. As compared with Indian and white labor, Negro slavery was eminently superior. “In each case,” writes Bassett, discussing North Carolina, “it was a survival of the fittest.” 2 likes
“Negro slavery, thus, had nothing to do with climate. Its origin can be expressed in three words: in the Caribbean, Sugar; on the mainland, Tobacco and Cotton. A change in the economic structure produced a corresponding change in the labor supply. The fundamental fact was “the creation of an inferior social and economic organization of exploiters and exploited.”98 Sugar, tobacco, and cotton required the large plantation and hordes of cheap labor,” 0 likes
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