Slave Trade In The 18th Century

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The period of the 18th century in North America marked a time of great and sustained economic expansion, one explanation which has been put forward by Eric Williams is that the contribution of slave labours was the engine that propelled the North American economy and financed the industrial revolution in Europe (Eric Williams, 1944). The first colony established permanently in the North Americas by the English was Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, where tobacco became the chief commodity traded (John Wilford, 1996). Once it became apparent that more labour was needed to harvest the relatively labour-intensive tobacco crop, the British aristocracy began to look into the need for slave labour. The British had been aware that the Portuguese and Spanish had been engaging in slave trading since the late 16th Century and when Britain became the dominant slave trader in 1670, the main source of these indentured servant being Native Americans and West Africans (Wood, 1997). As we approach the 18th century what becomes apparent is how the scale of slave trade expands, prior to 1670, 10,000 slaves had been supplied to North America but in the period 1670-1807, it has been estimated that 3.4m slaves had been supplied, this is due to the French and the Dutch involvement in the trade in the 18th century (Wood, 1997). These number however do not show deaths during transit, with this considered it can be estimated that 10-12 million slaves had been transported in this period. Slave labour,
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