2c, L 2: Slavery, Antislavery, & Causality
by H. Marcuse, Apr. 3, 2003
2006 lecture notes)
- Brief History: Slavery & Slave Trade
- The Triangle Trade
- Film clips: "A Son of Africa," "Amistad"
- The Antislavery Movement
- Causes of Abolition
Walk-in music: Babatunde Olatunji, 1989: Loyin Loyin
(Honey, Honey): prayer for Nigeria's present leader, General Ibrahim Babangida
- When did slavery originate?
How did it develop?
When did it end?
- When did the movement to end it originate?
What were some major milestones along the way?
History of Slavery
- Existed since recorded history;
urban tasks in ancient Egypt (pyramids)
Domestic vs. productive slavery
Slavery as status vs. chattel slavery
- Timeline Europe/Africa:
- ancient Rome had slaves
- Portuguese in 1441
- Spanish: 1505/19 to work in agriculture & mines
- British colonies: 1619 to Jamestown settlement
(tobacco; plantation system)
- 1700-1800: the worst slave trade
- 1519-1890s: 9,300,000 [8.5-11.3
- 1700-1800: 6+ mio.=2/3 of total
- 50,000-90,000 per year [see
In 1780s & 90s: 50% in British ships
- Why? -> Triangle
Just some made-up numbers
- English bank: £100 for guns; £900 for trip
- African coast: 100 slaves for 100 guns
- Caribbean: 85 slaves @ £120= £10,000
purchase sugar for resale 100% mark-up
- England: £20,000 -> £19,000 profit (1800%)
Horrors of Slavery
- The Middle Passage
- Film Clips (15 mins.)
- "A Son of Africa: The Slave Narrative of Olaudah Equiano"
(BBC, 1996), 5:30-11:00 [UCSB: HT869.E6S66]
- "Amistad" (1997), about 1839 revolt and trial (1:18:00-1:25:30)
- Slaveship Zong: Sept. 1781: massacre, 1783 trial
J.M.W. Turner painting of Zong
- "Slavers throwing overboard the Dead and Dying - Typhon coming on" (The
Slave Ship), 1840, 3ft x 4ft, Boston Museum of Fine Arts
- 1812 poem, written by Turner:
Aloft all hands, strike the top-masts and belay;
you angry setting sun and fierce-edged clouds
Declare the Typhoon's coming.
Before it sweeps your decks, throw overboard
The dead and dying ne'er heed their chains
Hope, Hope, Fallacious Hope!
Where is thy market now? [note economic argument!]
The Antislavery Movement
- Slave revolts from the beginning
- 1569 England, Cartwright decision:
"England was too pure an air for slaves to breathe in"
- 1701 Boston: "The Selling of Joseph"
- 1743 John Wesley (1703-1791)(Methodist/dissenter)
Pamphlet "Thoughts upon Slavery" (1774) excerpt
- 1769 Granville Sharp (1735-1813):
"The Injustice and Dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery in England"
1789 founding of Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade
- 1772 Somersett case. Slave James Somersett, bought in Virginia, attempted
to run away in London. Decision: an escaping slave could not be forcibly removed
from England for punishment in a colony.
model, publ. by Thomas Clarkson, 1788/89(?)
The top image is the actual model; the second image was taken
from a book by Clarkson.
Why did slavery end?
- Resistance of slaves: human agency
British and US abolish slave trade
- Moral reasons: put forward by
Wesley, Clarkson, etc.
- Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846),
1808: History of the Rise, Progress & Accomplishment of the Abolition
of the Slave Trade
- Economic reasons:
- Adam Smith, 1776: "The
experience of all ages and nations … demonstrates that the work done by
slaves, though it appears to cost only their maintenance, is in the end
the dearest of any."
Marcuse's argument: this is patently untrue.
1788: Essay on the Impolicy of the African Slave Trade excerpt
- John E. Cairnes, 1862: The Slave Power: Its Character,
Career and Probable Designs; being an attempt to explain the real issues involved
in the American contest
Read and highly admired by Karl Marx
- Eric Williams, 1944: Capitalism and Slavery
discussion of how these factors relate
to each other; which one is primary?
created by H. Marcuse, Apr. 7, 2003, updated 5/1/06
back to UCSB Hist 2c homepage