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New World Slave Traders and the Problem of Trade Goods: Brazil, Barbados, Cuba, and North America in Comparative Perspective

Kelley, Sean M (2019) 'New World Slave Traders and the Problem of Trade Goods: Brazil, Barbados, Cuba, and North America in Comparative Perspective.' English Historical Review, 134 (567). 302 - 333. ISSN 0013-8266

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Abstract

This article examines the phenomenon of New World-based slave trading, which encompasses slave-trading voyages that embarked from ports in the Americas. Much of the existing literature takes a European-based ‘triangular trade’ as the norm in the slave trade, but it is now clear that almost 40 per cent of all transatlantic slaving voyages sailed from ports in the New World. Slave traders based in the Americas needed to find appropriate and economical trade goods, which was difficult since European and Asian manufactures dominated African markets for captives. A comparative examination of the four largest American slave-trading polities (Barbados, Brazil, Cuba and British North America/the United States) reveals that all of them succeeded in converting plantation produce—sugar, molasses and tobacco—into African trade goods. However, all of these powers also sought to acquire the more valuable textiles and manufactures in order to improve their ‘assortments’. This finding is significant because it forces historians to consider the slave trade not merely as a ‘triangular’ trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas, but as a truly global system of exchange.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: slave trade, economic history, Brazil, Cuba, United States, Barbados, Africa, Angola, Gold Coast, Senegambia, alcohol, tobacco, textiles
Subjects: E History America > E11 America (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 11 May 2018 14:53
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2019 09:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/21974

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