Slavery, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution by Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson

 ... does not state that slavery caused Britain’s industrial take-off. But every page thereafter bends the reader in that direction. Those already inclined to think the worst will find compelling validation.

Was the slave plantation system in the West Indies and the Americas the critical catalyst for Britain’s economic take-off in the 17th century? 

Or are such claims an exercise of post hoc, ergo propter hoc "Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X." 

We have the vintage but ageing masterpiece of Capitalism and Slavery, a deep-dive into the colonial archives by Eric Williams, a black Oxford historian who later went on to lead Trinidad and Tobago for a quarter of a century.

An archive of documents is today available online. Every known slave shipment across the Atlantic from 1500 to 1875 is posted on 

Spain, Portugal, and Brazil – or traders linked to these states – together shipped 6,909,790 slaves. Britain shipped 3,259,441, France 1,381,404, the Netherlands 554,336, and Denmark/the Baltics 110,040.

Every pound paid in compensation to planters after 1833 is published in digital form. We can see that Sir John Gladstone, father of the moralising Prime Minister, was paid over £106,769 for 2,508 slaves on 14 estates in Jamaica and Demerara in British Guiana

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Telegraph 1 September 2023


On 28 August 1833 Parliament passed legislation that abolished slavery within the British Empire, emancipating more than 800,000 enslaved Africans. 

As part of the compromise that helped to secure abolition, the British government agreed a generous compensation package of £20 million to slave-owners for the loss of their ‘property’. 

The Bank of England administered the payment of slavery compensation on behalf of the British government. 

Bank of England 2022,behalf%20of%20the%20British%20government.

Sverige var en liten och sen kolonialmakt. Dessutom såldes Saint-Barthélemy redan 1878 tillbaka till Frankrike, då ön inte längre var lönsam.

Detta har underlättat för berättelsen om Saint-Barthélemy som en exotisk och harmlös parentes i svensk historia att få fäste – inget mer än en snäll och lite tafflig lekstugeversion av kolonialism.

Anna Jörngården Understreckare SvD 22 augusti 2023


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