The Slavery Museum

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Further exhibits in the museum state how the slave trade affected Britons at home. One exhibit shows how slavery brought new ways to show off wealth and power by purchasing slave produced products such as sugar. The wealthiest families were able to go a step further by boasting the ownership of an exotic African slave in their home. Therefore, within the gentry and aristocratic families, slavery brought a new way of being socially advanced and superior. However, the more important effect of slavery in Britain was the effect which slave traders’ profits had on the economy. One exhibit tells how entrepreneurs in Liverpool such as John Gladstone used their profits to help construct the Liverpool to Manchester railway. Although this is only one…show more content…
The British slave trade led ‘neither to colonization, nor the founding of substantial commercial communities’. Slave traders’ were not interested in permanent and varied trade with Africa. Their sole purpose was to obtain slaves and transport them to where they could be exchanged for wares that were profitable, such as sugar. The museum also portrays the British as traders who intended only to achieve quick wealth. Historiography supports the idea put forward by the Slavery museum that the slave trade was partially responsible for starting the industrial revolution. Robin Blackburn supports the museum’s view and believes that on the ‘onset of industrialisation… colonial profits made a significant contribution’. ‘Colonial profits’ is a rather vague term, though many colonial plantations relied upon slave labour. In addition the triangular trade in which slaves were exchanged for colonial goods was responsible for the delivery of colonial goods to Britain to be sold. Slavery played a significant part in producing these profits. One high profile benefit of these profits was the steam engine which was ‘developed using profits from slave trading merchants’. The steam engine became a substantial object in moving the industrial revolution forward, leading to the construction of railways all over Britain, such as the Liverpool to Manchester line mentioned in the museum. As the engine was created using slave trade profits, the slave trade did have an important role in accelerating the industrial revolution. The museum’s presentation of ideas and facts about the British in the slave trade does agree with modern historiography and can therefore be considered as
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