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The Economic Aspect of the Abolition of the West Indian Slave Trade and Slavery

by Eric Williams, William, Jr. Darity

Part of the World Social Change Series

The Economic Aspect of the Abolition of the West Indian Slave Trade and Slavery Synopsis

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 the influential and widely debated Capitalism and Slavery, published in 1944 and based on his previously unavailable dissertation, now available in book form for the first time. Williams's profound critique became the foundation for studies of imperialism and economic development. Establishing the exploitation of commercial capitalism and its link to racial attitudes, Williams employed a historicist vision that has set the tone for an entire field. The significant differences between his two works allows us to reconsider questions that have lost none of their urgency; indeed, whose importance has increased.

The Economic Aspect of the Abolition of the West Indian Slave Trade and Slavery Press Reviews

The fact that Williams's previously hard to access doctoral thesis is now available to the general public will help to clarify important aspects of the `Williams Thesis' and its genesis. . . . The route from dissertation to final text runs parallel to Williams's trajectory from a young black student combating racism and imperial narratives at Oxford to the future prime minister of an independent nation. Apart from being an important historiographical document, Williams's dissertation is therefore also a historical source in its own right. . . . [R]econsidering the `making of' the Williams Thesis can have a profound impact on how we view its later interpretations and current relevance. . . . The Economic Aspect provides important insights into the genealogy of the Williams Thesis that are much harder to grasp from the more polemical, and more layered text of Capitalism and Slavery. . . . The publication of The Economic Aspect finally makes it possible for a wider audience to retrace Williams's steps. In the process, we can start to disentangle Williams's complicated relationship to the Oxford imperial historians, radical predecessors and contemporaries, and the emerging anti-colonial struggles of his day. * International Review Of Social History * Here readers will find the original formulation of some of the ideas that led to Eric Williams's long-famous Capitalism and Slavery, which addressed, among a wide range of provocative issues, why Britain abolished the slave trade and slavery within its empire during the early years of the nineteenth century largely for strong economic rather than humanitarian reasons, though both sources of motivation carried weight. This new book shows the dissertation as a separate, if closely related, intellectual project of great insight. The published dissertation will surely awaken new interest in Williams's ideas that have sparked so much heated debate in their continued global relevance to issues related to capitalism, power, poverty, and much more. -- David Barry Gaspar, Duke University A major publishing event for scholars and students of slavery, abolition, capitalism, and the Atlantic world. The appearance of Eric Williams's thesis will mark a turning point in the historical debates that his work has long fueled. -- Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, Tufts University

Book Information

ISBN: 9781442231399
Publication date: 7th February 2014
Author: Eric Williams, William, Jr. Darity
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 278 pages
Categories: Slavery & abolition of slavery, Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, Economic history,

About Eric Williams, William, Jr. Darity

Eric Williams was the most prominent intellectual from the English-speaking Caribbean in the twentieth century. He was a leader of West Indian independence and the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago from 1955 to 1981. His groundbreaking book, Capitalism and Slavery, was first published in 1944 and most recently reissued in 1994. Dale W. Tomich is professor of sociology and history at Binghamton University, State University of New York, and deputy director of the Fernand Braudel Center. William Darity Jr. is Arts and Sciences Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics at Duke University.

More About Eric Williams, William, Jr. Darity

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