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A Book Review of Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America Essay (Critical Writing)


Introduction

Slavery has for a very long time attracted the attention of many history scholars. “Morgan Kenneth, in his book Slavery and the British Empire gives a deep in site of how the British came to embrace slavery in their territory” (Morgan 2). It specifically deals with slavery within the British context.

The book has a consistent narration of slavery, right from the period it was institutionalized in Britain until it was finally eradicated. By reading this book, one gets to internalize the slavery experiences from various perspectives. The book is primarily based on credible evidence derived from genuine sources.

In this regard, the author consulted slavery manuscripts and other secondary sources. The author’s theses are concentrated with minor digressions. Nonetheless, his arguments are rational and they are not so abbreviated.

His arguments are properly coordinated and underpinned with credible statistics, which are mainly stated in words. The book gravitates on slavery that was conducted within British and Atlantic region. In my view, this approach of analyzing slavery is better because it gives an elaborate explanation of slavery in a particular territory.

This is a prime strength of this book because several authors simply recapitulate slavery occurrences, without narrowing down to a specific context of it practice. However, slavery that was extended to other British territories receives less attention in this book.

“The book combines economic, social, political, cultural, and demographic history, with a particular focus on the Atlantic world and the plantations of North America and the West Indies from the mid-seventeenth century onwards” (Morgan 234). Kenneth Morgan examines how slaves were spread in the British Empire. He also mentions how this phenomenon changed overtime. Apart from highlighting the beginning and subsequent entrenchment of slavery in numerous territories, Kenneth Morgan goes further to explain why slavery thrived for long.

Slavery

Slavery reached and became instituted in the Trans Atlantic region earlier than in England. The British Empire adopted slavery in 17th century, when it occupied America. The ancient slavery was different from the one that was later adopted after European occupation of America.

The latter version of slavery was based on racism than the former. For instance, black slaves were introduced in America due to insufficient laborers in the plantations. In America, plantation farming was particularly boosted by slaves. “Before the civil war, English colonies of Britain were scattered along the eastern seaboard North, America and throughout the Caribbean” (Morgan 7).

The extra colonies of Britain that had slaves were located around the Indian Ocean. In the second phase of the 17th century, Britain used its territories as potential markets. Britain also derived some raw materials from the territories that were under its control. The transatlantic trade was also thrived during this period. The British slave trade was intensified in the 18tn century.

Merchants and Planters

Many business individuals got engaged in selling slaves because it had lucrative returns. In this case, the pricing of slaves was determined by the supply and demand for slaves. In Bristol slave trade introduced new prospects for commercial development. For example, industries in Bristol provided products that were substituted with slaves.

North America also relied on European supplies. Bristol merchants campaigned for the abolition of monopoly control. “This is because they wanted to be part of the slave trade” (Morgan 36). In America, Interstate slave trade had a positive impact on the economy of seaboard states that had remained poor for long. As the demand for cotton increased, many plantation owners acquired more slaves that they used in producing more cotton.

The Triangular Trade

Trans Atlantic trade is still recognized as one of the main trading activities that took place from the beginning of the sixteenth century all through to the eighteenth century. This business was unique in the sense that it involved the selling of human beings as one of the prime commodities from Africa.

This trade is also commonly termed as triangular trade. This is because it involved three continents. In this case, Africa, America and Europe exchanged goods from one region to another. The beginning of this trade goes back to the fifteenth century. The advancement in marine technology was significant during this time, because it facilitated the travelling of Europeans. Hence, they finally reached Africa.

Slave Life

The manner in which slave masters handled their subjects was not consistent. Living conditions of slaves were influenced by places where they worked. For example, those who operated in farms were overworked as compared to those who worked in homes. Slaves did not have the chance to have families because this could distract their attention.

They were also not allowed to hold religious meetings because this could make them conspire to escape. They were restricted to their masters’ residence. Slave codes existed in various states, and they were used for guiding how slaves interacted with their masters.

Slave Rebellion and Emancipation

Slaves used various tactics to emancipate themselves from forced labor and inhuman treatments that they faced in the hands of their European masters. “The American Civil was crucial to the life of slaves in the sense that it led to the abolition of slavery” (Morgan 156).

The banning of slavery was also championed by various scholars who felt that it was not economical to use slaves in farms and factories. Secondly, many humanitarians felt that slavery was extremely brutal. “President Lincoln took a decisive step towards eliminating slavery by mentioning his emancipation proclamation to members of his cabinet in 1862” (Morgan 166).

Conclusion

“Kenneth Morgan has given shape and coherence to material that has expanded at an extraordinary rate over the past twenty years, and yet he never trivializes in the process of writing a compact study” (Morgan 13). Slavery had profound effects. This is why it has formed part of the historiography of many territories that were affected by it.

Hence, the subject of slavery has been approached differently by various scholars. Slavery faded off gradually especially towards the end of the 19th century. “Therefore this is a book which manages to be both a survey of the wider scholarly field, and an original argument in itself” (Morgan 345).

Work Cited

Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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IvyPanda. (2019, September 5). A Book Review of Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-book-review-of-morgan-kenneth-slavery-and-the-british-empire-from-africa-to-america/

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"A Book Review of Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America." IvyPanda, 5 Sept. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/a-book-review-of-morgan-kenneth-slavery-and-the-british-empire-from-africa-to-america/.

1. IvyPanda. "A Book Review of Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America." September 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-book-review-of-morgan-kenneth-slavery-and-the-british-empire-from-africa-to-america/.


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IvyPanda. "A Book Review of Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America." September 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-book-review-of-morgan-kenneth-slavery-and-the-british-empire-from-africa-to-america/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "A Book Review of Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America." September 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-book-review-of-morgan-kenneth-slavery-and-the-british-empire-from-africa-to-america/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'A Book Review of Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America'. 5 September.

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