While the British public was trading shares in the slave trade, French slave traders faced an uncertain future. The end of the War of the Spanish Succession deprived them of access to what had been their best markets. They demanded action from the government. But the French government had financial problems of its own. The war left it burdened with massive debts and desperate for a way out. It turned to the professional gambler-turned-business guru John Law (1671-1729), who promised that a new twist on mercantilist polices would solve the problems of both the state and of slave traders. On his advice, the French monarchy created a new state-run corporation, the French East India Company. This behemoth had global ambitions. Headed by Law himself, it had a monopoly on all trade between France and Asia, and also the exclusive right to supply France’s sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean with African slaves. The initial excitement of Law’s scheme, like initial excitement in Britain over the South Sea Company, led to wild speculation by the public on shares of the new company. When the price of these shares rose far enough beyond their real value, it finally collapsed, bringing Law, his company and the French economy into ruin.
In a system known as the (contract), the Spanish government began granting some European merchants special monopoly contracts. These allowed the traders to become the sole merchants permitted to sell slaves in a particular area. The Spanish government carefully controlled the whole economy of its American colonies, only allowing a select handful of foreigners to trade with its valuable possessions. Since the slave trade was one of the most lucrative sectors of colonial commerce, it was particularly restricted. In the 16th century, the Spanish government granted these monopolies over the slave trade in its colonies to Italian, German and Portuguese investors who came from countries in the orbit of Spain’s global empire. By the end of the 17th century, however, Spain was declining as a military power. It was less and less able to grant the to merchants of its own choosing. Other European empires coveted the riches of the for themselves, and tried to seize it. In 1701, the Spanish king died with no heir. The French king, Louis XIV, invaded Spain and installed his own grandson on the throne. One of the newly crowned ruler’s first acts was to hand over control of the to his grandfather. Now France would have the sole right to supply Spain’s colonies with enslaved Africans, ensuring huge profits for French slave traders.
Essay on the Slavery & Commerce of the Human Species etc translated from the Latin Dissertation etc 1788 167pp. Notes in Clarkson's own hand on pp.133-141 of Prize Essay.
An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly The African, Translated from a Latin Dissertation, which was honoured with First Prize in the University of Cambridge for the Year 1785, With Additions. MDCCLXXXV1 (1786) Printed by J. Phillips, George-Yard, Lombard-Street.
Notes: From a book containing four works entitled: An Essay on the Comparative Efficiency of Regulation or Abolition, as applied to the Slave Trade showing that the latter only can remove the evils to be found in that commerce by Rev. T. Clarkson MA, Printed by James Phillips, George-Yard, Lombard-Street, London 1789.
Between 1807 and 1808 Britain and the United States moved to abandon their legal involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. Abolitionists had been denouncing and campaigning against it for almost half a century.
Recurring claims are challenged in the book “Memories of the Slave Trade” where the author portrays that Africans felt no sense of moral obligation concerning the sale of the slaves by tracing down memories of the slave trade in the Temne-speaking communities in Sierra Leone.
From the 1780s until the last slave ship arrived in Cuba in 1867, the illegal portion of the traffic grew steadily until it encompassed the whole of the slave trade. About 1.5 million Africans arrived illegally in the Americas during this period.
From the 16th to the 19th centuries European and American slave traders were kidnapping and enslaving a large number of Africans to the New World and as a result of the influx of Africans there were many great cultural influences that came from the African populations.
Africans started to fight the transatlantic slave trade as soon as it began. Using violent as well as nonviolent means, Africans in Africa, the Americas, and Europe were relentlessly involved in the fight against the slave trade and slavery.
For nearly four centuries, the Atlantic slave trade brought millions of people into bondage. Scholars estimate that around 1.5 million people perished in the brutal middle passage across the Atlantic. The slave trade linked Africa, Europe and the Americas in a horrific enterprise of death and torture and profit. Yet, in the middle of the 18th century, as the slave trade boomed like never before, some notable European observers saw it as a model of free enterprise and indeed of ‘liberty’ itself. They were not slave traders or slave-ship captains but economic thinkers, and very influential ones. They were a pioneering group of economic thinkers committed to the principle of –: a term they themselves coined. United around the French official Vincent de Gournay (1712-1759), they were among the first European intellectuals to argue for limitations on government intervention in the economy. They organised campaigns for the deregulation of domestic and international trade, and they made the slave trade a key piece of evidence in their arguments.
For centuries after European colonisation of the Americas commenced, European governments regulated the Atlantic slave trade. They organised it in accordance with what was known as mercantilism. This was the authoritative economic thinking of the 16th, 17th and much of the 18th century. It favoured heavy government intervention, particularly in international trade. For mercantilist thinkers, trade was a kind of war in which nations could defeat their rivals by accumulating silver and gold, and by exporting manufactured goods while importing agricultural products. All aspects of trade were to be precisely organised in order to serve these goals, leaving little initiative to private traders. A few decades after Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Caribbean in 1492, it became clear to the Spanish monarchy that enslaving indigenous peoples of the Americas was not enough to supply its growing colonies’ need for labour. The Spanish turned to the slave trade in West Africa. Europeans and Arabs had long engaged in the African slave trade. Well-meaning Spanish critics of the horrific mistreatment of indigenous peoples, such as Bartolomé de las Casas, supported this decision. They argued that Africans were better fit for hard labour than American Indians.
An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly The African, Translated from a Latin Dissertation, which was honoured with First Prize in the University of Cambridge for the Year 1785, With Additions. MDCCLXXXV1 (1786) Printed by J. Phillips, George-Yard, Lombard-Street.Notes: 1st Edition copy of Clarkson's original essay which began his lifetime's work.