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The Mighty Experiment : Free Labor versus Slavery in British Emancipation - Seymour Drescher

The Mighty Experiment

Free Labor versus Slavery in British Emancipation

Paperback

Published: 1st November 2004
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By the mid-eighteenth century, the transatlantic slave trade was considered to be a necessary and stabilizing factor in the capitalist economies of Europe and the expanding Americas. Britain was the most influential power in this system which seemed to have the potential for unbounded growth. In 1833, the British empire became the first to liberate its slaves and then to become a driving force toward global emancipation. There has been endless debate over the reasons behind this decision. This has been portrayed on the one hand as a rational disinvestment in a foundering overseas system, and on the other as the most expensive per capita expenditure for colonial reform in modern history.
In this work, Seymour Drescher argues that the plan to end British slavery, rather than being a timely escape from a failing system, was, on the contrary, the crucial element in the greatest humanitarian achievement of all time. The Mighty Experiment explores how politicians, colonial bureaucrats, pamphleteers, and scholars taking anti-slavery positions validated their claims through rational scientific arguments going beyond moral and polemical rhetoric, and how the infiltration of the social sciences into this political debate was designed to minimize agitation on both sides and provide common ground. Those at the inception of the social sciences, such as Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus, helped to develop these tools to create an argument that touched on issues of demography, racism, and political economy. By the time British emancipation became legislation, it was being treated as a massive social experiment, whose designs, many thought, had the potential to change the world.
This study outlines the relationship of economic growth to moral issues in regard to slavery, and will appeal to scholars of British history, nineteenth century imperial history, the history of slavery, and those interested in the history of human rights.
The Mighty Experiment was the winner of First Prize, Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition.

"Drescher should be commended for providing us with a study that future historians will mone for precious detail on the relationship between abolitionism and nineteenth-century social sciences, and one that affords us valuable insight into the mentality of British abolitionists."-- The Journal of Modern History Mighty Experiment can be seen as the culmination of decades of painstaking research and mature reflection on the complicated process that in the British empire forwarded the global project of human emancipation."--The Journal of Social History "Drescher should be commended for providing us with a study that future historians will mone for precious detail on the relationship between abolitionism and nineteenth-century social sciences, and one that affords us valuable insight into the mentality of British abolitionists."-- The Journal of Modern History Mighty Experiment can be seen as the culmination of decades of painstaking research and mature reflection on the complicated process that in the British empire forwarded the global project of human emancipation."--The Journal of Social History ""Seymour Drescher's magnificent book on the British Act of Emancipation of 1833, and many other things besides, explains the role of the eighteenth-century scince of political economy in the anti-slavery movement."-EH-NET

Acknowledgmentsp. v
The Mighty Experimentp. 2
Introductionp. 3
Modern Slavery and Modern Freedomp. 9
The Free Labor Ideology: Adam Smithp. 19
From Production to Reproduction: the Population Principlep. 34
Adam Smith's Epigoneand the Retreat from the Free Labor Ideologyp. 54
Heredity, Environment, and Changep. 73
Sierra Leone and Haiti: Emancipation as an Experimental Sciencep. 88
Experimental Alternatives to Slavery, 1791-1833p. 106
The Mighty Experimentp. 121
Expanding the Experimentp. 144
The Experiment Erodedp. 158
The Experiment in Crisis: Sugar, Slaves, and Cottonp. 179
An Experiment Abandonedp. 202
Some Lessonsp. 231
Notesp. 239
Selected Bibliographyp. 287
Indexp. 299
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195176292
ISBN-10: 0195176294
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 318
Published: 1st November 2004
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.6  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.47