Capitalism And Slavery
Published in 1944, Eric Williams advanced the powerful ideas in Capitalism and Slavery.
Slavery helped finance the Industrial Revolution in England. Plantation owners, shipbuilders, and merchants connected with the slave trade accumulated vast fortunes. These fortunes were used established banks and heavy industry in Europe and expanded the reach of capitalism worldwide.
Years ahead of its time, his profound critique became the foundation for studies of imperialism and economic development. Binding an economic view of history with a strong moral argument. Williams’ study of the role of slavery in financing the Industrial Revolution refuted traditional ideas of economic and moral progress. It firmly established the centrality of the African slave trade in European economic development.
He also showed that mature industrial capitalism, in turn, helped destroy the slave system. Establishing the exploitation of commercial capitalism and its link to racial attitudes, Williams employed a historicist vision that set the tone for future studies.
In a new introduction, Colin Palmer assesses the lasting impact of Williams’s groundbreaking work. He analyses the heated scholarly debates it generated when it first appeared.
Williams makes a powerful case for the connection between slavery and capitalism. He argues that institution of slavery funded, or more accurately, made the necessary concentration of capital possible for the start of industrial capitalism in Britain.