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West Indian Slavery and British Abolition, 1783-1807 - David Beck Ryden

West Indian Slavery and British Abolition, 1783-1807

Paperback Published: 29th March 2010
ISBN: 9780521148047
Number Of Pages: 352

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This book challenges conventional wisdom regarding the political and economic motivations behind the final decision to abolish the British slave trade in 1807. Recent historians believe that this first blow against slavery was the result of social changes inside Britain and pay little attention to the important developments that took place inside the West Indian slave economy. David Beck Ryden s research illustrates that a faltering sugar economy after 1799 tipped the scales in favor of the abolitionist argument and helped secure the passage of abolition. Ryden examines the economic arguments against slavery and the slave trade that were employed in the writings of Britain's most important abolitionists. Using a wide range of economic and business data, this study deconstructs the assertions made by both abolitionists and antiabolitionists regarding slave management, the imperial economy, and abolition."

'David Ryden's impressively researched book on West Indian slavery and abolition breathes new life into a major historical controversy. Ryden's emphasis on political and economic contingency in the early nineteenth century adds fresh vigor to arguments connecting abolition to the decline of the plantation system. Even the immensely powerful West Indian proslavery interest, whose inner workings Ryden deciphers brilliantly, were helpless in the face of short-term economic trauma. Ryden's elegant study is a major achievement, transforming our understanding of how the slave trade came to be abolished in 1807.' Trevor Burnard, University of Warwick
'By examining Parliamentary Papers and Debates, the minutes of the meeting of The Society of West India Planters and Merchants, planter correspondence, and related primary sources for the years before the ending of the British slave trade, David Beck Ryden has provided an excellent contribution to the ongoing discussions centered on the writings of Eric Williams about the relative importance of economic as opposed to moral factors in the passage of the 1807 legislation ending the British slave trade. West Indian Slavery and British Abolition, 1783-1807 is a well-researched and clearly argued study that will repay reading by all interested in this ongoing debate.' Stanley Engerman, University of Rochester
'Well researched and cogently presented, Ryden's book argues that the economic state of the sugar-slave complex in the Caribbean directly affected the British decision to abolish their transatlantic slave trade. This counter-blast to current historiography on this topic will be widely discussed by British imperial historians.' Kenneth Morgan, Brunel University
'One of the many strengths of this book is its analysis of the planter lobby in Britain and its gradual loss of political influence. Another strength is the emphasis it puts on the growth of the West Indian economy at the end of the eighteenth century, and the ability of the planter class to experiment and innovate.' The Times Literary Supplement
'... this book is a testament to Ryden's expertise in economic analysis and to his thorough archival research in the United Kingdom, the United States and Jamaica.' New West Indian Guide
"David Ryden's impressively researched book on West Indian slavery and abolition breathes new life into a major historical controversy. Ryden's emphasis on political and economic contingency in the early nineteenth century adds fresh vigor to arguments connecting abolition to the decline of the plantation system. Even the immensely powerful West Indian proslavery interest, whose inner workings Ryden deciphers brilliantly, were helpless in the face of short-term economic trauma. Ryden's elegant study is a major achievement, transforming our understanding of how the slave trade came to be abolished in 1807." -Trevor Burnard, University of Warwick
"By examining Parliamentary Papers and Debates, the minutes of the meeting of The Society of West India Planters and Merchants, planter correspondence, and related primary sources for the years before the ending of the British slave trade, David Beck Ryden has provided an excellent contribution to the ongoing discussions centered on the writings of Eric Williams about the relative importance of economic as opposed to moral factors in the passage of the 1807 legislation ending the British slave trade. West Indian Slavery and British Abolition, 1783-1807 is a well-researched and clearly argued study that will repay reading by all interested in this ongoing debate." -Stanley Engerman, University of Rochester
"Well researched and cogently presented, Ryden's book argues that the economic state of the sugar-slave complex in the Caribbean directly affected the British decision to abolish their transatlantic slave trade. This counterblast to current historiography on this topic will be widely discussed by British imperial historians." -Kenneth Morgan, Brunel University
"A sophisticated blend of economic, political, and social analyses, this book makes a valuable contribution ot the continuing debate on the origins of the British abolition of the slave trade in 1807. Essential." -Choice
"...this thoroughly researched book makes essential reading for any scholar or student of British slavery and abolition." - Henrice Altink, American Historical Review
"[Ryden's] monograph integrates this new evidence into the broader story of sugar production and slavery to produce a compelling analysis." Andreas Fahrmeir, sehepunkte
"...Ryden has re-injected life into the debate about abolition. While not the final word, it is an impressive contribution to that debate." -Times Literary Supplement
"Ryden...handles economic, cultural and political sources with equal skill, and puts to elegant use the results of a decade of digging in British, Jamaican and British collections. Ryden makes a distinguished contribution to Atlantic history and not merely to the history of anti-slavery." -Richard Drayton, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
"Ryden has written one of the most important books in the field for many years." EH.net James Walvin, University of York
"...timely and compelling book..." -Brooke N. Newman, Eighteenth-Century Studies
"...Ryden successfully puts the issue of West Indian economic decline back on the scholarly agenda and places the Caribbean at the centre of our understanding of the debate over abolition." -English Historical Review

Producing a peculiar commodity
The Atlantic economy's political economic power
Jamaican planters and the London West India interest
The production and distribution of Jamaican muscovado
Duties, drawbacks, and the uncommitted mercantilists
The management of slaves in Jamaica
Abolition and colonial reform
Antiabolition and colonial rights: the defense of the slave trade
A business paradox: rising productivity and collapsing profitability
Rapid decline and abolition
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521148047
ISBN-10: 0521148049
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 29th March 2010
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.8 x 15.2  x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.52