This book challenges conventional wisdom regarding the political and economic motivations behind the final decision to abolish the British slave trade in 1807. Recent historians believe that this first blow against slavery was the result of social changes inside Britain and pay little attention to the important developments that took place inside the West Indian slave economy. David Beck Ryden's research illustrates that a faltering sugar economy after 1799 tipped the scales in favor of the abolitionist argument and helped secure the passage of abolition. Ryden examines the economic arguments against slavery and the slave trade that were employed in the writings of Britain's most important abolitionists. Using a wide range of economic and business data, this study deconstructs the assertions made by both abolitionists and antiabolitionists regarding slave management, the imperial economy, and abolition.
David Beck Ryden (Associate Professor of History, University of Houston - Downtown) has degrees in Economics and History from Connecticut College (BA), the University of Delaware's College of Business and Economics (MA), and the University of Minnesota's Department of History (Ph.D.). He is the author of several articles on British American slave societies for Slavery and Abolition, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, and Social Science History. He is also editor of The Promoters of the Slave Trade, a collection of pro-slavery pamphlets produced by West Indian planters during the age of abolition. The Economic History Association selected Ryden's dissertation as a finalist for the Alexander Gerschenkron Prize. He was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in the Department of American Studies and History at Brunel University in London.
1. Producing a peculiar commodity; 2. The Atlantic economy's political economic power; 3. Jamaican planters and the London West India interest; 4. The production and distribution of Jamaican muscovado; 5. Duties, drawbacks, and the uncommitted mercantilists; 6. The management of slaves in Jamaica; 7. Abolition and colonial reform; 8. Antiabolition and colonial rights: the defense of the slave trade; 9. A business paradox: rising productivity and collapsing profitability; 10. Rapid decline and abolition.