ECON 3R03 Lecture Notes - Horse Breeding, Sub-Saharan Africa, Industrial Revolution
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Continuation of Slavery 07/03/2013 Zahra Haidari
The Plantation System
The industry of slavery was small. It could have not entirely financed the industrial revolution.
● American slavery not at issue: American cotton did not become important to the British until after
1800, when the first Industrial Revolution is almost over
● What about slavery on the Caribbean sugar plantations?
The money from the Caribbean sugar plantation was: (1) reinvested in the sugar plantations or estate or
● Profits were 1/2 of 1% of GNP. Similar profits were earned in other industries, including banking,
insurance, horse breeding, hospitality, wheat farming, fishing
● These profits were only available only if they were not reinvested in the sugar industry, or spent on
Harewood: its builder owned 46 sugar plantations
● The absence of slavery would not mean the disappearance of the profits – There would have been
other methods to find workers for the plantations – sub-Saharan Africa and China (where economic
conditions were bad and there was a significant population that would give themselves up to be
– Labour in the sugar industry could have been obtained elsewhere, eg. Indentured servants from
Europe or Asia
– If there were no sugar industry, the capital that had gone into constructing the sugar plantations
would have been redeployed elsewhere. Profits are lost only if the sugar industry earned abnormally
high profits—and as noted above, the evidence suggests that it did not.
● Could the Industrial Revolution have gained from other aspects of the plantation system?
● A market for British goods
– At the time of the Industrial Revolution, the only significant British holding in the Caribbean was
Barbados. Its population was about the size of a large British town
● As a source of cheap raw materials
– Candy is dandy, but it was New World cotton that the British really wanted—after 1800
● As a trigger to the Industrial Revolution
– There was some technical progress in sugar production, but it was not a breakthrough industry like
iron, coal or textiles.
New World cotton was a significant trigger to the industrial revolution
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