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The Economic Aspect of the Abolition of the West Indian Slave Trade and Slavery by Eric Williams, William, Jr. Darity

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

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Part of the World Social Change Series


The Economic Aspect of the Abolition of the West Indian Slave Trade and Slavery by Eric Williams, William, Jr. Darity

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.


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

About the Author

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.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th February 2014


Eric Williams, William, Jr. Darity

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield


278 pages


Slavery & abolition of slavery
Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
Economic history



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