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However, the entirely negative view of obeah promulgated during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and founded societies by Whites during the period of slavery in the British Caribbean - a view beyond the reach of their enslavers.

European interpretations of obeah were tives of the primary sources, or on secondary sources that convey this shaped not only by their racist ideologies, ethnocentric religious beliefs, position.

For example, in his influential Sociology of Slavery, Orlando and their own cultural perceptions of witchcraft and sorcery, but also Patterson wrote, "obeah was essentially a type of sorcery which largely by the limited opportunities they had to gain information.

Very few involved harming others at the request of clients". Obeah could be suredly, states: "obeah manipulates evil spirits through black magic".

It could become a vehicle through Albert Raboteau, in his widely quoted study of North America, Slave which tensions and antagonisms were channelled and manifested in Religion, defines obeah as the "use of magic for evil"; and for Philip slave communities, for example, when enslaved persons believed they Morgan, in his masterly and highly regarded study of slave culture in were bewitched and their lives threatened; and, thus, ultimately it could the eighteenth-century Chesapeake and Carolinas, "sorcery is the delib- threaten the stability of colonial and plantocratic authority.

Williams, a this interpretation of obeah become that many West Indians accept it to Jesuit missionary and anthropologist, whose work, though now largely varying degrees today, although with perhaps diminishing intensity in forgotten, was influential during the s.

In his volume, Voodos recent decades. Almost fifty years ago, Philip Curtin perceptively Long History of Jamaica, and Bryan Edwards History, Civil and recognized what many twentieth-century scholars and other writers Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies, ,presented a have ignored.

Writing about Jamaica, yet in a comment that could easily theory of obeah that saw it as a transplanted form of Asante Ashanti be applied to other West Indian areas, Curtin observed that "essentially, witchcraft that continued to be opposed in the Caribbean by a kind of obeah was neither good nor bad: it could be used either way".

Some "white" or positive power known as "myal". Though based on the years later Edward Kamau Brathwaite departed even further from most flimsiest of evidence, and a naive and prejudicial reading of eighteenth- scholarly interpretations when he asserted that "obeah.

Williams' views have also profoundly affected the search for World and in colonial Africa as sorcery and 'black magic'.

Indeed, the very primary sources that on African slave labour. The earliest unambiguous reference to obeah provide information on obeah and emphasize its evil nature commonly in the British Caribbean of which we are aware occurs in a Barbadian indicate, albeit indirectly or implicitly, its positive role in slave commu- source.

Witness, for example, a major Jamaican slave law. Its ber and September by Thomas Walduck, an English army forty-ninth clause specifically addressed "the wicked art of Negroes officer stationed on the island, to a correspondent in London.

Walduck going under the appellation of Obeah men and women, pretending to wrote that "one Negro can bewitch another Obia as they call it " and have communication with the Devil and other evil spirits".

The law "that one Obia Witchnegro can cure another is believed here as our observed how "the weak and superstitious are deluded into a belief of their country folk doe in England".

In Arthur Holt, Another example comes from a document based on slave testi- the Anglican rector of Christ Church parish, reported on "their Oby mony, one of the earliest Jamaican sources on obeah, and one of the Negroes, or conjurers", and their influence within the slave community.

From this document we learn The knowledgeable Griffith Hughes, also an Anglican minister who was that the powers known by that name among enslaved persons, though based in Barbados during the s and s, succinctly observed that they certainly could be associated with fear and intimidation, had a slaves stood "much in awe o f.

We are told, for instance, that enslaved persons of physicians and conjurers, who can, as they believe, not only fascinate may "revere" and therefore "consult" the obeah man or woman.

We them [i. In fact, Hughes unintentionally provides capabilities or "oracles" , which they consult "upon all occasions". What another excellent, but not atypical, illustration of how the very primary they desired from the obeah man was not just vengeance against enemies sources that condemn, mock or otherwise deride obeah provide data that or punishment of thieves - objectives that are perhaps not wholly "evil" yield an alternative interpretation and indicate the positive role of obeah or morally indefensible, after all - but "the cure of disorders", "the in slave life.

To illustrate the devious influence and chicanery of obeah conciliation of favours", and "the prediction of future events".

The woman was "persuaded by one of Elsa Goveia reported that in the British Leeward Islands during the these Obeah doctors, that she was bewitched", and that he would cure late eighteenth century "Obeah practices included not only the prepara- her for a fee.

Hughes then describes how the obeah man proceeded to tion of phials and spells which were designed to protect the possessor effect the cure he had promised.

Several decades after Hughes wrote, a and his property or to inflict harm on his enemies", but also the treatment prominent Barbadian planter, John Brathwaite, asserted that obeah of disease and the ability to foresee events.

In fact, quite pointedly, the practitioners "act now principally as fortune-tellers [i. Some agent for St Kitts in testified to a parliamentary committee that of them have knowledge in simples [herbal medicines], and can apply slaves used obeah ".

Very importantly, enslaved persons consulted men were alleged to have played prominent roles in slave revolts and obeah practitioners to protect them, in the words of Barbados's earliest conspiracies, and, especially in the earlier periods, those dominated by anti-obeah law the phrasing of which was taken directly from the Akan speakers from the Gold coast.

Although there is little information on the specific influences that Obeah practitioners, like African medicine men, prepared charms or obeah people had in particular plantation communities or settlements, amulets that could protect against illness or harm, ward off evil, bring it is doubtful that their influence was based solely on intimidation and good luck, or protect against theft of crops or personal belongings.

The disorders and psychological states or moods intimately linked to beliefs evidence suggests that as time passed Whites greatly exaggerated the in witchcraftlsorcery.

This is not to deny that the descriptions of contemporary white Indeed, by the early decades of the nineteenth century, when mis- observers had some basis in fact.

Obeah practitioners were sometimes sionary Christianity began to have a major impact in the British Carib- suspected, as these writers grasped, of using their powers to harm others.

They stressed that it was used, in the words was not uncommon in African societies. Fear, although probably not on of a Barbadian white Creole, to summon up images of "diabolical as massive a scale as Whites claimed, must have played a role in the superstitions", and related "odious rites" and practices that allegedly influence held by some obeah practitioners.

In this sense, the belief involved "communication with the devil and other evil spirits". The systems of which obeah was a part would have conformed to a more "harmless prejudices [of slaves] should be respected", recommended a general pattern found in many folk or traditional healing systems.

Since group of "progressive" Barbadian planters in , "but the abominable such systems often involve "considerable management of supernatural superstition of obeah.

In Jamaica, could use these forces for antisocial as well as helpful purposes. Yet, supposed capable of injuring others by certain preparations".

It was although certain obeah practitioners were believed capable of seriously represented as a "species of witchcraft" that was "dark", "barbarous", injuring people or causing their deaths, it must be stressed that these and "disgusting", and was "accompanied by all the terrors that the dread same practitioners could just as easily make people feel better by of a malignant being and the fear of unknown could invest", as a "system neutralizing spells believed to have been cast by those who wished them founded on the imaginary influence of malignant spirits".

Obeah prac- harm. Such a person could exert great power in his community. Kenneth Bilby andJerome Handler Obeah: Healing and Protection in West Indian Slave Life Now many of the descendants of the enslaved peoples them- reliance on phraseology in West Indian criminal law in general, bluntly selves spoke of obeah in thoroughly negative terms, though not always concluded that obeah throughout the West Indies is "a social evil which with the fewour of Thomas Banbury, a black Jamaican minister, who in is both unchristian and immoral".

Since obeah is so frequently characterized Such views of obeah withJamaica being often used as the model for as the use of power to cause harm, etymologists equipped with bilingual the West Indies in general infused themselves into the scholarly litera- dictionaries have sought, and managed to find, words in various African ture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

One writer in languages glossed as "witchcraft", "sorcery", "black magic" and the like an issue of a London-based anthropologicallfolklore journal, deriv- that bear some resemblance to this Caribbean term.

Once such a ing her information from an inspector in the Jamaican police force, proposed etymology becomes widely accepted - as has obayi-fo, an reported how various Jamaican laws had suppressed the practice of Asante-Twi term for evil witches --this is then seen, by a kind of circular obeah but prosecutions continued "up to the present day".

This trend in modern scholarship can are rare, but he still exercises an evil and wide-spreading influence. Directly or indirectly particularly through Orlando Pat- Smithsonian , published a research note in the American Anthropologist terson, who offered a slightly modified etymology ,Williams' etymologi- in under the sensationalist title "An ingenious method of causing cal speculations have influenced virtually all modern writers who death employed by the Obeah men of the West Indies", givingexpression address the origin of the term and accept that its roots are of Asante-Twi to the conventional views of the day.

The folkloristlethnographer Martha origins. Patterson, who accepted Williams' basic assumptions about Beckwith, who, over four summers of fieldwork from to , Asante-Twi origins, continues to be widely cited by scholars today.

We argue that the term obeah probably derived from provides implicit or direct evidence that Jamaicans sought obeah prac- Igbo or a related language of the Niger Delta, such as Efik or Ibibio, titioners for socially beneficial ends.

Perhaps even more interesting than where the term dibia refers to a "doctor" or "healer", one who enjoys a meanings given by scholars are the capsule definitions sometimes very positive role in the communities he serves, and where a related provided in literature intended for more general audiences.

These are term, abia, denotes various kinds of esoteric knowledge, including usually based on scholarly sources, such as those cited above which knowledge of herbal healingS3O themselves depend heavily on biased eighteenth- and nineteenth-cen- We speculate that the term obeah was used by early African arrivals tury sources and distil obeah to a few essential terms, such as "witch- from the Niger Delta area and overheard by Whites in one of the older craft", "a type of negative sympathetic magic", "the Jamaican form of British colonies, such as Barbados where at present, as noted above, the African black magic", or "the obeahman is usually involved in witchcraft earliest evidence exists for the use of this term or St Kitts, another old and evil doings for clients to satisfy their selfish needs".

I utilizing home-made remedies to "heal physical and spiritual ailments". I full meaning of this term, they nonetheless incorporated it into their own vocabulary to refer to the non-Western i.

From the colony of its may be sent by someone". Spreading to other West Indian areas and becoming And what of a society such as Barbados where obeah during the part of the white Creole lexicon, the term was also incorporated into the period of slavery was so closely associated with divination, protection, lexicons of the Creole languages spoken by the enslaved peoples, many and healing?

Barbadian culture has changed considerably since the slave of whose ancestors came from ethno-linguistic groups other than Igbo period, and particularly over the past several decades, and obeah clearly or neighbouring peoples.

In post-colonial, Wherever the term originated and under whatever conditions it post Barbados, even among the working class and urban and rural diffused, just how complete the negative redefinition of obeah is in poor -what the late Jamaican social anthropologist, M.

Smith, might different parts of the anglophone Caribbean remains largely an open have called the "folk"where belief in occult supernatural power is question, since so little reliable ethnographic fieldwork has been done most pronounced, obeah is viewed as fundamentally evil.

Its practitio- among practitioners of obeah and their clients. Although obeah has been ners, it is believed, have the power to harm and control people, and stigmatized for its negative effects in the post-colonial West Indies, it is misfortune and bad luck, including mental illness or even, on occasion, also clear that its positive side is recognized, if not actually emphasized.

Sometimes this For example, reporting on her field work in Antigua during the mid- negative view of obeah was used as a threat to discipline a child.

An s, Lazarus-Black writes that older friend of Handler's, for example, recalled that when he misbehaved as a child the family's cook would threaten him: "Mr.

John, ef yuh don in addition to cases in which obeah was invoked to determine theft,m y field notes behave yuself, I goinlgwine call de obeah man fuh yuh.

Some of the lawyers, too, have had recent clients and cases "worked" for socially beneficial purposes such as healing or giving assistance in by obeah men or women to influence the search for justice [including].

In the words of a popular guide to Barbadian customs back a boyfriend or husband who has begun seeing another woman. Some tioners are still sought by clients probably only a small minority of "do 'dirty work'.

Nonetheless, Gibson clearly gives the impression that A similar ambiguity exists in Jamaica, where anti-obeah legislation practitioners who do "good work" are more commonly sought.

Such remains on the statute books to this day see the Appendix for an practitioners, she writes, are "employed to bring about success in overview of anti-obeah legislation in the anglophone Caribbean.

Obeah romantic relationships", and "may also solve problems of confusion in is publicly denounced as both a superstition and a deadly form of sorcery, a home, e.

They can be "enlisted even while large numbers of individuals continue to consult self-pro- to have court cases dismissed or end in victory", "to make a client fessed obeah men and women in private for healing and help with a wealthy", and can function as "fortune tellers", involved in the divina- bewildering array of personal and social problems.

I 1 times comes from the research of trained ethnographers who have APPENDIX 1 carried out extensive fieldwork and shared the daily lives of the practi- tioners of traditional religions.

Given the evidence with Specific Reference to Barbados, Written in M a y produced by such investigators we can only conclude that the insistence in the Caribbean and by outsiders that obeah is essentially - by definition - a form of evil sorcery must be attributed either to lack of real Time constraints and limited library resources at our disposal have knowledge of obeah as it is actually practised, wilful de-emphasis of prevented us from comprehensively studying the legislation relating to those aspects of obeah practice that contradict such a view, or a kind of obeah, but it appears that from the nineteenth century on all of the ideologically induced blindness.

For instance, even though more sanctions against the practice of obeah. Although negative views and conservative Rastafarians continue to oppose obeah as vehemently as stereotypes of obeah and obeah practitioners persist to varying degrees the established churches, a group of prominent Jamaican Rastas issued in many parts of the anglophone Caribbean, changes in anti-obeah a public statement in calling for the repeal of Jamaica's anti-obeah statutes in recent times reflect changing societal attitudes, political laws.

Quoted in a newspaper article, Miguel Lorne, an attorney-at-law positions and efforts to discard the negative cultural and social legacies as well as a Rastafarian, taking a position rather similar to ours, explained of the colonial past.

Anything him the colonial master can't understand, him call it obeah The case of Barbados is instructive and is to some extent reflective of and witchcraft.

Although an occasional eight- claimed obeah man from the rural parish of St Thomas, gave his own eenth-century Barbadian law may have alluded to practices that might definition of obeah: "obeah ah one religion, not witchcraft," he said.

However, it would seem that did not result in death. According to the law's preamble, "many perfectly natural to any Saramaka or Ndyuka Maroon in Suriname, as it valuable slaves have lost their lives or have otherwise been materially probably would have been to a great many of those individuals who injured in their health by the wicked acts.

This act dealt with "disorderly behaviour", prosti- of obeah". The penalties were death or transportation. However, the law does not mention obeah.

The major "Slave Consolidation Act" repealed all antiquated Thus, obeah was dropped from the statute books and is no longer a legal slave laws and incorporated all of the island's current slave laws into offence.

The "wicked and unlawful practice of obeah" of Barbados and his staff were discussing the draft of the law, they continued as a felony and poisoning was still mentioned as a charac- decided to leave out all references to obeah, viewing it as no longer teristic practice of the obeah practitioner.

However, before their repeal the "Vagrancy Act of " reduced obeah to a "vagrancy offence", that is, a minor offence,-with up to 28 days' Jamaica imprisonment.

In the post-emancipation nineteenth century the act being belatedly repealed almost two years after obeah was reduced to a "vagrancy". The persons pretending to be dealers in obeah.

By , at least four enactments were in force that obscenity, lewd exposure, etc. It also had an anti-obeah provision dealt specifically with obeah; these were modified and consolidated in Section 3 [Z] , viz, "every person pretending or professing to tell the Obeah Act.

This law did not specifically define obeah, but fortunes, or using or pretending to use any subtle craft or device, by categorized the practitioner as "any person who, to effect any fraudulent palmistry, obeah, or any such superstitious means, to deceive and or unlawful purpose, or for gain, or for the purpose of frightening any impose on any of his Majesty's subjects.

The convicted person could be fined up to two pounds or any supernatural power or knowledge". Persons convicted under the "be imprisoned with hard labour for any term not exceeding one Act could be imprisoned for up to one year, with or without hard month".

The law was revised in , British Guiana at the time. This Act was modified by It persisted until November when 1 the "Miscellaneous Laws Spiritual Reform Act" was passed and all Whoever practices obeah, or by any occult means or by any assumption of I supernatural power or knowledge intimidates.

II Under this statute, the penalty could be imprisonment for three Anguilla months or a fine if "any instrument of obeah" is found on a suspected From to the laws of St Kitts were in force in Anguilla.

In the practitioner. The new Guyanese constitution, as that in other of Britain. By Anguilla had introduced various statutes that were newly independent Caribbean territories, gave freedom of worship to germane specifically to Anguilla, and dropped various provisions that all religions, but there was no specific repeal of earlier anti-obeah had been inherited from the St Kitts legal code, including the anti-obeah provisions.

However, in Prime Minister Forbes Burnham an- provision in the Small Charges Act. Today in Anguilla one of Britain's nounced, as Kean Gibson has written recently, "that steps would be Overseas Territories ,the practice of obeah per se is not illegal although taken by his Government to repeal that part of the constitution that made people can be prosecuted if they engage in what are considered fraudu- it a specific offence to practice obeah - but the law [of would be lent practices.

Although the obeah law was not repealed in , many people believed that it was, and Burnham's widely circulated statement, Windward and Leeward Islands Gibson emphasized, "gave elite sanction to the practicing of obeah".

All of the independent countries of the Windwards and Leewards - With the belief that obeah was legalized, "obeah became a lucrative and AntiguaIBarbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St VincentlThe Grena- competitive profession".

Even if it still remains on the books, laws that are invariably found in various Minor Offences Acts or Small for all intents and purposes it has no practical effect on the practice of Charges Acts.

Since there has been no major reform of the criminal law obeah per se. However, people who profess to be obeah practitioners and in these territories for many decades - governments having other engage in what are defined as fraudulent practices can be charged with priorities - it is likely that anti-obeah provisions still exist, but we have a criminal offence or sued for fraud.

This provision also applies to other been unable to research these laws in detail. However, even with the areas of the Caribbean.

If there is any Trinidad had anti-obeah legislation in the nineteenth century [for exam- prosecution of obeah practitioners, it would not be against obeah per se, ple, ,which was revised in the "Summary Convictions Offences but rather against persons who are believed to be practising fraud of one Ordinance" of May This Act defined obeah as the "pretended kind or another.

Those present paper, it is worth noting that certain kinds of practices usually I convicted could be imprisoned for up to six months, with or without considered "fraudulent" in the context of obeah, such as those related hard labour.

A male might also receive corporal punishment, while a to healing or bringing good fortune -- and, thus, still stigmatized and female could be kept in solitary confinement for up to three days at a possibly still prosecutable under current laws -- are generally treated as time - not to exceed a total of one month - during her prison sentence.

Kenneth Bilby and Jerome Handler Obeah: Healing and Protection in West Indian Slave Life Since prayers or other Christian rituals intended t o heal or been less common than he maintains.

We have been unable to find corroborative evidence in a number of earlier standard secondary works on protect against misfortune a r e , unlike obeah, categorized a s "religion" North American slavery, although Yvonne Chireau has more recently rather t h a n "superstition", they are protected b y legal guarantees of confirmed that the term was occasionally used in North America.

Whatever freedom of religion. Thus, t h e colonial legacy of disparaging religious or the case, the term does not appear to have become a standard lexical feature spiritual practices perceived a s "African", or associated primarily with in North America, where "conjurer" sometimes, "hoodoo", "root working" t h e predominantly black lower strata, remains intact.

Chireau, Black Magic: Religion and the Afncan NOTES American Conjuring Tradition [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, , 4, 7, 21, 55, n41; cf.

Sharla M. Fett, Working 1. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the conference "Crossing Cures: Healing, Health, and Power on Southern Slave Plantations [Chapel Hill: Boundaries: The African Diaspora in the New Millennium" New York University of North Carolina Press, , 41, 81, University, September ;the Second Conference on Caribbean Culture 3.

Kenneth Bilby, "The Remaking of the Aluku: Culture, Politics, and Maroon University of the West Indies, Mona, January ;and a History Depart- Ethnicity in French South America" PhD dissertation, Department of ment seminar University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, March Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, ; Silvia W.

William Freehling commented on a very early draft of the paper, Groot, Djuka Society and Social Change Assen: Van Gorcum and Company, while Jeanette Allsopp, Joan Brathwaite, Trevor Burnard, Katherine Clarke, ,; Richard Price, First-Time: The Historical Vision of an Afro-Ameri- John Cole, Barry Gaspar, Ronald Hughes, Velma Newton and David Trot- can People Baltimore:Johns Hopkins University Press, ;Richard Price, man helped with various research issues.

Anna McCrerey, Matthew Meyer and Features of Ndjuka Medicine", New West Indian Guide 63 Laverne Ochoa provided research assistance. For historical materials, see, for example, Wim Hoogbergen, The Boni 2.

Supernatural-related or magical practices involving curing, divination, pro- Maroon Wars in Suriname Leiden: E. Brill, ,33,; Richard and Sally tection and negative or harmful objectives i.

Revolted Negroes of Surinam Transcribed for the first time from the Original Terms other than obeah are used elsewhere in the Caribbean in the same Manuscript Baltimore:Johns Hopkins University Press, ,, Even in some parts of what is today considered the of Jamaica practised a traditional religion in which obeah - meaning the use anglophone Caribbean, but which have a French colonial past, the term of spiritual power for healing, protection and divination -played a crucial role obeah is apparently uncommon.

In Saint Lucia, for example, the term Barbara Klamon Kopytoff, "Religious Change among the Jamaican Maroons: employed is closer to what is found in the francophone Caribbean, but David The Ascendance of the Christian God within a TraditionalCosmology", Journal Barry Gaspar notes, "it is more likely that kweyol [Creole] speakers would of Social History 20 [] Obeah as a term in 4.

However, the most recent March online edition of the Oxford English SL [St Lucia] has an Anglicized contextualization, and in that sense some Dictionary seriously entertains the view taken in this paper.

Europeans, of course, were not exempt from beliefs in witchcraft and Handler, December ; cf. Philip Morgan its efficacy. In his recent analysis o f [among themselves]" Fett, Working Cures, James Sweet's similar obser- eighteenth-century Jamaica, Vincent Brown notes that "obeah certainly vations on early Brazil are also pertinent: ".

Every As long as the spiritual power o f obeah was credible [to Whites]black m e n act o f malevolent witchcraft against a slave became an act o f resistance and w o m e n wielded it to combat the worldly power o f the whites" "Spiritual against the slave master.

A similar, albeit psychoanalytically oriented, perspective, was Afnca, Although obeah practitioners sometimes used poisons, poison was not an Structure in the Lesser Antilles", Psychiatry 11 [] For others intrinsic feature o f obeah; moreover, neither the knowledge o f poisons nor w h o consider the political functions o f obeah and the threats it posed to their application was confined to obeah practitioners.

This is a point white and colonial authority, see, for example, Mindie Lazarus-Black, commonly overlooked b y scholars w h o write about obeah.

Legitimate Acts and Illegal Encounters: Law and Society in Antigua and Barbuda 9. Philip Curtin, TwoJamaicas: The Role ofldeas in a Tropical Colony Washington,D.

Norton and passim. For an earlier perspective o n the political functions o f obeah, see Company, , Michael Mullin, "Obeahmen and Slaveowning Patriarchs", i n Vera Rubin See, for example, Edward Brathwaite, The Development of Creole Society in and Arthur Tudin, eds.

This also occurred in early Brazil see James H. Protestantism in the American South and British Caribbean to Chapel 6.

For example, Thomas Thistlewood's approximately 10,page manuscript Hill: University o f North Carolina Press, , ; Neville A. Hall, diary details an extraordinary array o f activities concerning the enslaved Slave Society in the Danish West Indies Mona:University o f the W e s t Indies persons he managed and owned in Jamaica during a year residence Press, ,; B.

Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean, , but apparently provides no details o n the practice.

Although Baltimore:Johns Hopkins University Press, ,; C f. Thistlewood "disapproved o f obeah", he nonetheless recognized that en- Mullin, "Obeahmen", ; Elsa Goveia, Slave Society in the British Leeward slaved persons sought its practitioners to explain misfortune or for various Islands at the End o f the Eighteenth Century N e w Haven: Yale University therapeutic needs Trevor Burnard, Mmtery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Press, , ; Mary Turner, Slaves and Missionaries: The Disintegration Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World Chapel Hill: Univer- oflamaican Slave Society, Urbana: University o f Illinois Press, sity o f North Carolina Press, , ; Trevor Burnard, personal commu- , ; Brown, "Spiritual Terror"; David Barry Gaspar, Bondmen and nication to Handler, March Douglas Hall, In Miserable Slavery: Rebels Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, , ; Trotman, Thomas Thistlewood in Jamaica, London: Macmillan, , Crime in Trinidad, , passim; Bernard Marshall, "Society and Econ- Referring to Jamaica, but i n a comment that can easily be extended to other o m y in the British Windward Islands, " PhD thesis, Department Caribbean areas, Vincent Brown observes, "obeah was almost always o f History, University o f the W e s t Indies, Mona, , Orlando Patterson, The Sociology of Slavery: An Analysis of the Origins, k n e w very little about it" Brown, "Spiritual Terror", Development, and Structure of Negro Slave Society in Jamaica London: 7.

Referring to the US South in the nineteenth century, Sharla Fett's observa- MacGibbon and Kee, , ; David Watts, The West Indies: Patterns of tion is also germane to the W e s t Indies.

Although enslaved people "fre- Development, Culture, and Environmental Change since Cambridge: quently used conjuration in their struggles against slaveholders.

Societies New York: Oxford University Press, , ; Albert Raboteau, or "to work witchcraft against someone ",although Richard Allsopp's more Slave Religion: The 'Tnvisible Institution" in the Antebellum South New York: recent definition is broader and takes into consideration some of obeah's Oxford University Press, ,34; Morgan, Slave Counterpoint, For the positive functions F.

Cassidy and R. LePage, Dictionary of Jamaican Bahamian historian, Gail Saunders, obeah "is essentially a type of 'bad English [; 2nd ed.

Saunders, published by the Nassau Guardian, , 93n For other Joseph J. Williams, Voodoos and Obeahs: Phases of West India Witchcraft New examples of scholars who view or viewed obeah as an essentially antisocial York: Dial Press, ,passim.

Myalism was a term used by nineteenth- form of witchcraftlsorcery in the slave community even though they century missionaries and other writers to refer to religious organizations occasionally implicitly acknowledge its positive social role , see J.

Harry among enslaved persons and their descendants in Jamaica that were influ- Bennett, Bondsmen and Bishops: Slavery and Apprenticeship on the Codrington enced by Christianity and functioned to counteract the influences of witch- Plantations of Barbados, Berkeley:University of California Press, craftlsorcery.

Today, in the few parts of Jamaica where the term myal has Florida Press, ; Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World been retained in connection with current religious practices, it has no the Slaves Made New York: Vintage Books, , ; Karl Watson, connotation of counteracting sorcery or malevolent power, but simply The Civilized Island Barbados: A Social History, Barbados: K.

Sheridan, Doctors and Slaves: A Medical medium". Nor is present-day myal opposed to obeah; rather, it complements and Demographic History of Slavery in the British West Indies, it, and is seen as a means of accessing it as shown by Bilby's ethnographic Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, , ; Alan Richardson, research in several different Jamaican communities where the term myal is "Romantic Voodoo: Obeah and British Culture, , in Margarite still commonly used in connection with religious practices.

Although some Fernandez Olmos and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, eds. Williams asserted, but provided no and Christianity Among the Slaves", Journal of Negro History 11 : independent evidence, that "myalists" in Jamaica were simply versions of ; Lazarus-Black, Legitimate Acts, 44; Leonard Barrett, Soul-Force: the Asante okomfo traditional priest transplanted to Jamaica, where they Afncan Heritage in Afro-American Religion Garden City, New York: Anchor operated under a different non-Asante name, but continued to combat the Press, Double-Day, ;Leonard Barrett, The Rastafarians: The Dreadlocks evil wrought by malicious, Asante-style obayi-fo witches ,that is, obeah of Jamaica Kingston,Jamaica: Sangster's Book Stores, ;Jean Besson, workers.

Although this notion has gained some acceptance in the scholarly "Religion as Resistance in Jamaican Peasant Life", in Barry Chevannes, ed.

Rastafari and Other African-Caribbean World Views New Brunswick, New This exact wording was later incorporated into Barbados's first anti-obeah Jersey: Rutgers University Press, , ; John Edward Philips, "The law, passed in see the Appendix.

The Jamaican law also specifies a African Heritage of White America", in Joseph E. Holloway, ed. McDonald, ed.

Passed in the Island of Jamaica, from to , Inclusive John Anderson's Journal of St Vincent during the Apprenticeship Barbados and [Kingston,Jamaica, , Act 91, December Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, , nn; Testimony of Stephen Fuller, in Report of the Lords of the Committee of the Barbara Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society, London:James Council Appointed for the Consideration of all Matters Relating to Trade and Currey, , ; Maureen Warner-Lewis, Central Afnca in the Carib- Plantations London, , His lecture, therefore, sought to address this by treating the representations of gender in slavery, its ideological relations and effects, as well as its social construction and reconstructions.

Far from agreeing that black women in slavery were invisible, he argued that it was the enslaved men who were largely invisible in the historical records.

Black male slaves, in being "kept" and "kept down" by the white male hegemony, were in effect "feminized" and emasculated. On the other hand, black women were visible as slave mothers and slave lovers of white men.

Adhering to the conventional view that women have left far fewer traces of their experiences in the historical records than men, Bridget Brereton paid tribute to recent efforts of Caribbean historians to "rescue women of the past from their invisibility".

She supported Silvestrini's call for historians to make greater use of oral and written testimonies of women to achieve this, and she pointed to literary works as useful sources, as well as autobiographical writings and memoirs, diaries and journals, and private letters.

Her lecture examined the writings of Caribbean women to illustrate her argument that, together with oral testimony and the mainstream historical records generated by men, these other sources can facilitate the "engendering" of Caribbean history.

Further evidence of this was provided by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese's lecture which employed Toni Morrison's novel Beloved4 as a source of the voices of African American women in slavery.

Fox-Genovese stated that this novel served as a very useful supplement to the fragmentary traditional sources in her reconstruction of the experiences of slave women.

Her analysis demonstrated clearly how the historian can employ literature to understand, in this case, the emotions of women, an issue raised by Blanca Silvistrini.

Rex Nettleford's lecture on society's debt to history, and to Elsa Goveia in particular, serves as an excellent epilogue to this collection of essays.

Now vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies, he was a student of Goveia, and pointed out that she was part of a tradition of intellectuals who challenged the idea that the Caribbean had no history.

For him, history Introduction XV properly conceptualized and written is essential to society's development.

History serves to teach present-day society of the errors of the past with a view to avoiding them in the future.

History, he argued, teaches mankind that we are less than the angels; it teaches humility; it teaches that mankind is not omniscient. Elsa Goveia was an excellent exemplar of this view of history.

Notes 1. Elsa Goveia, Slave Society in the British Leeward Islands at the End of the Eighteenth Century New Haven: Yale University Press, Elsa Goveia, A Study of the Historiography of the British West Indies Mexico City: Institute Panamericano de Geografia e Historia, Elsa Goveia, The West Indian Slave Laws of the Eighteenth Century, Chapters in West Indian History Barbados: Caribbean Universities Press, Toni Morrison, Beloved New York: Plume, This page intentionally left blank iI SECTION In Slavery and Freedom This page intentionally left blank 1 CHAPTER Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism JOSEPH E.

INIKORI Over half a century ago, the late Eric Williams of Trinidad and Tobago wrote a brilliant doctoral thesis for Oxford University, subsequently published in under the title Capitalism and Slavery.

The declaration of intent in the preface shows both broad and specific objectives that Williams sought to accomplish.

The broad objective is his attempt to "place in historical perspective the relationship between early capitalism as exemplified by Great Britain, and the Negro slave trade, Negro slavery and the general colonial trade of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries".

Stating the specific objective, Williams says the book is "strictly an economic study of the role of Negro slavery and the slave trade in providing the capital which financed the Industrial Revolution in England and of mature industrial capitalism in destroying the slave system".

For this and other reasons we need not go into, the politics of abolition has dominated the voluminous literature generated by reactions to Williams.

Thus, studies of the contribution of slavery to British economic development typically focus exclusively on British colonial America, even though it is clear enough that the connection between slavery and the British economy extended to all the Americas and Europe.

In this way, the study by Eric Williams and the reactions to it moved farther and farther away from the broad issue of how slavery served as midwife to the birth of capitalism.

That is the story of this chapter. For this reason I stand Eric Williams on his head in my title, "Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism".

This analytical and discursive story requires that we place the rise of capitalism in time and place and join issue with the general literature on the rise of capitalism, which in various ways has tended to minimize or totally ignore the central role of slavery.

I will argue that the first capitalist economy in the world emerged in Britain and that capitalism did not become the dominant system of production in that country until well into the first half of the nineteenth century.

I will argue further that the debate on the transition from feudalism to capitalism was misdirected; that in fact there was no such transition.

I argue that the collapse of feudalism was followed by several centuries of petty commodity production that is, family-based commercial agriculture by self-employed cultivators freed from extra-economic coercion.

Similarly, I argue that the chronological separation of the development of agrarian and industrial capitalism, in which the former is given the role of the prime mover, is factually wrong.

It will be shown that industrial and agrarian capitalism developed simultaneously in England and that it was the expansion of proto-industrial production that made possible the full development of the constituent elements of capitalism in British agriculture.

Finally, the crux of my argument is that the expansion of proto-industrial production in Britain during the two hundred years from to was primarily a function of the institutional and production response of the British economy and society to the pressures and opportunities emanating from the growth of the slavebased Atlantic economic system.

It is Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism 5 ironic that this term, which is applied by everyone to describe Western societies of today and to which there is so much emotional and ideological commitment by conservative scholars and students in Western universities, was invented not by Adam Smith, nor David Ricardo, nor Alfred Marshall, but by a scholar no less radical than Karl Marx himself.

And for many decades, as Rodney Hilton assures us, all scholars interested in the history of capitalism, both Marxists and non-Marxists, followed Marx in their specification of the constituent elements that define the social phenomenon to which the term applies: "the division of classes between propertyless wage-earners and entrepreneurs who own capital".

This implicit attempt to redefine thus appears to be a rereading of Marx and Weber. This implied reinterpretation has generated an open debate only among scholars of the Marxian tradition.

No such controversy surrounds the apparent rereading of Weber's conception of capitalism. A brief discussion of both sides of the subject is pertinent to the definition of capitalism that informs our treatment of the main subject of the chapter.

The recent debate among the Marxists centres on Gunder Frank's use of the term and the support given by Immanuel Wallerstein.

The bone of contention is whether elements in the sphere of exchange or those in the sphere of production more unambiguously distinguish capitalism from all other social forms.

Frank argues for elements in the sphere of exchange, classifying economies as capitalist or non-capitalist in accordance with whether or not they are connected to extensive markets.

Wallerstein concurs. By this conception, Frank and Wallerstein are able to regard the slave-based plantation and mining economies and encomienda systems of the Americas as capitalist from the sixteenth century.

Ernesto Laclau's critique of Frank leads the way. Laclau stresses that "the fundamental economic relation of capitalism is constituted by the free labourer's sale of his labour-power, whose necessary precondition is the loss by the direct producer of ownership of the means of 6 Slavery, Freedom and Gender production".

Neale, the specification of the defining characteristics of capitalism as a social form starts, as it were, with first principles, that is, the meaning of the term capital, from which Karl Marx derived capitalism.

Neale points out that both Marx and the classical economists defined capital in terms of "things used to produce more things". But for Marx, unlike the classical economists, things used to produce more things become capital only when these things are used under certain socioeconomic relations.

The socioeconomic relations in question are specified by Marx as those between free wage labour separated from the instruments of production and the entrepreneur owning these instruments.

If the things used by self-employed workers are not capital, it follows that economic systems in which their form of the labour process predominates are not capitalist.

Specifying free wage labour and capital-owning entrepreneurs, with market-dominated production, as the defining properties of capitalism, she is able to argue persuasively that the British economy developed capitalism to a much greater extent than subsequent capitalist economies, in which non-capitalist elements, especially state intervention, tend to loom large.

Tawney, a towering figure in British economic historiography who was far from being a Marxist, also defined capitalism in terms of free wage labour.

As though in anticipation of some of the recent conceptions, he held that capitalism defined in terms of profits from commerce, buccaneering, war or large-scale organization of production would be indistinguishable from socioeconomic systems that have existed throughout history.

So defined, there would be no problem of the "rise of capitalism", since it would always have existed, virtually everywhere. As he put the point, Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism 7 Capitalism, in the sense of great individual undertakings, involving the control of large financial resources, and yielding riches to their masters as a result of speculation, money-lending, commercial enterprise, buccaneering and war, is as old as history.

Capitalism, as an economic system, resting on the organization of legally free wage-earners, for the purpose of pecuniary profit, by the owner of capital or his agents, and setting its stamp on every aspect of society, is a modern phenomenon.

Max Weber's earlier conception of capitalism contains similar elements. Weber drew a clear distinction between what he called "modern capitalism", which he argued developed only in the West from the sixteenth century, and other social forms that have existed in all "civilized countries" throughout history.

Thus he declared at the very beginning of his Protestant Ethic, The impulse to acquisition, pursuit of gain, of money, of the greatest possible amount of money, has in itself nothing to do with capitalism.

This impulse exists and has existed among waiters, physicians, coachmen, artists, prostitutes, dishonest officials, soldiers, nobles, crusaders, gamblers and beggars.

One may say that it has been common to all sorts and conditions of men at all times and in all countries of the earth, wherever the objective possibility of it is or has been given.

It should be taught in the kindergarten of cultural history that this naive idea of capitalism must be given up once and for all.

We will define a capitalistic economic action as one which rests on the expectation of profit by the utilization of opportunities for exchange that is on formally peaceful chances of profit Where capitalistic acquisition is rationally pursued, the corresponding action is adjusted to calculations in terms of capital.

Everything is done in terms of balances: at the beginning of the enterprise an initial balance, before every individual decision a calculation to ascertain its probable profitableness, and at the end a final balance to ascertain how much profit has been made Now in this sense capitalism and capitalistic enterprises, even with a considerable rationalization of capitalistic calculation, have existed in all civilized countries of the earth, so far as economic documents permit us to judge.

As he expressed it, 8 Slavery, Freedom and Gender [I]n modern times the Occident has developed, in addition to this, a very different form of capitalism which has appeared nowhere else: the rational capitalistic organization of formally free labour.

The modern rational organization of the capitalistic enterprise would not have been possible without two other important factors in its development: the separation of business from the household, which completely dominates modern economic life, and closely connected with it, rational book-keeping However, all these peculiarities of Western capitalism have derived their significance in the last analysis only from their association with the capitalistic organization of labour.

Even what is generally called commercialization, the development of negotiable securities and the rationalization of speculation, the exchanges, etc.

For without the rational capitalistic organization of labour, all this, so far as it was possible at all, would have nothing like the same significance, above all for the social structure and all the specific problems of the modern Occident connected with it.

Exact calculation -the basis of everything else -is only possible on the basis of free labour. Here his characterization of capitalism as a socioeconomic system is completely identical with that of Marx.

The separation of workers from the means of production is seen as the main driving force in the economic, social and political processes in a capitalist economy and society.

The relative independence of the artisan, the producer under the putting-out system, the free seigneurial peasant, the travelling associate in a commenda relationship, the knight and vassal rested on their ownership of tools, supplies, finances and weapons with which they fulfilled their economic, political and military functions and maintained themselves.

In contrast, the hierarchical dependence of the wage worker, the administrative and technical employee, the assistant in the academic institute as well as that of the civil servant and the soldier is due to the fact that in their case the means indispensable for the enterprise and for making a living are in the hands of the entrepreneur or the political ruler.

This all-important economic fact: the 'separation' of the worker from the material means of production, destruction, administration, academic research, and finance in general is the common basis of the modern state, in its political, cultural and military sphere, and of the private capitalist economy.

As he put Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism 9 it, "in a universal history of culture the central problem for us is not, in the last analysis, even from a purely economic view-point, the development of capitalistic activity as such, differing in different cultures only in form.

It is rather the origin of this sober bourgeois capitalism with its rational organization of free labour. Alan Macfarlane and may be taken as a fair illustration.

Weber believed that what happened under capitalism was that accumulation, saving, and profit-seeking had become ethically and emotionally attractive, whereas before they had been unacceptable.

The ethic of endless accumulation, as an end and not as a means, is the central peculiarity of capitalism. Certainly, Weber considered the element identified by Macfarlane, and by some others, as important.

But he did not see it as the defining element that distinguishes capitalism unambiguously from other socioeconomic systems to be found in various places throughout history.

Weber, like Marx, was primarily concerned with an effort to understand the economic, social and political forces which capitalism brought into Western societies.

Through this understanding both Marx and Weber attempted to predict the future direction of the history of Western capitalist societies.

Emphasis on attitudes would be inadequate for this purpose. Although radically differing in their predictions,21 both Marx and Weber saw the division of society into free wage-earners separated from the means of production and entrepreneurs owning those means as the element that was central to the forces that propelled Western capitalist societies of their day.

It is clear enough from the literature on capitalism that the vast majority of scholars, Marxists and non-Marxists, specify propertyless but legally free wage workers and entrepreneurs owning capital but dependent on the labour power of the free wage labourers as the constituent elements that distinguish capitalism unmistakably from all other forms of social organization.

The issue, however, is not just a question of majority view, which happens to correspond with that of Marx and Weber.

The point simply is that this conception of capitalism captures the dynamics of the capitalist system far more precisely 10 Slavery, Freedom and Gender and accurately than all others.

It captures the forces that compel the system to produce mainly for market exchange rather than for the immediate consumption of the direct producer; it encapsulates the inner logic of the system that motivates the entrepreneurs to pursue endless increases in labour productivity through innovations in technology and organization; it incorporates the source of class interests and conflict; in a word, it captures the central dynamic elements of the system in the economic, social and political arenas.

Brenner puts it succinctly: Only under conditions of free wage labour will the individual producing units combining labour power and the means of production be forced to sell in order to buy, to buy in order to survive and reproduce, and ultimately to expand and innovate in order to maintain [its] position in relationship to other competing productive units.

Only under such a system, where both capital and labour power are thus commodities. This form of appropriation is subtle, relative to all other forms; it takes place without the glaring view and consciousness of the labourer and it does not entail the use of non-market and non-economic force.

But because both wage labour and capital move freely on the market, there is a strict minimum level beyond which labour wage cannot fall.

In consequence, the owner of capital is compelled to engage in an eternal effort to raise labour productivity, on which alone the magnitude of his appropriated surplus and survival depend in the long run.

These are the central dynamics of capitalism that distinguish it unambiguously from all other systems of production. And they are fully and precisely captured only by the conception of capitalism centred on free wage labour.

From the foregoing, I can now state my operational definition of capitalism. By this term I mean a system of production for market exchange, in which the direct producers - separated from the means of production - voluntarily sell Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism 11 their labour power to the owners of capital, whose motivation is profit and the reproduction of capital on an expanded scale.

II The question now is where and when this system of production first emerged in the world. Conceptions of capitalism centred on attitudes or on production for market exchange per se have encouraged the extension of the history of capitalism to almost all historical periods and to several geographical areas.

Based on evidence showing a phenomenal expansion of commerce and industrial production for international trade in the Mediterranean region from the late thirteenth century, referred to by some as a "commercial revolution", several writers trace the rise of capitalism to medieval Europe, particularly the Italian city-states.

These were commercialized economies in which some of the most important commercial institutions of the capitalist system, such as bills of exchange, insurance and banking, were first elaborately developed.

They had large industrial sectors that were heavily dependent on export markets and agricultural sectors producing largely for market exchange and free from feudal constraints.

Yet these economies remained dominated by self-employed producers owning their means of production. There was free wage labour, but it was not the dominant form of labour in these economies, especially in agriculture where petty commodity production remained overwhelmingly dominant.

Even in manufacturing in the Italian city-states, where free wage labour was concentrated, the evidence indicates that much of the labour was not yet wage labour in the proper sense.

As one of the authorities tells us, In Venice slaves formed part of the labour force for certain operations such as the beating of cotton and were inscribed in the appropriate guild alongside free artisans.

The workers carried out their tasks either in the house of the entrepreneur 12 Slavery, Freedom and Gender or in their own homes and, depending upon their specialty, were paid either by the piece or by a daily wage.

The implements of work were in some cases owned by the artisan, but more often were provided by the employer. In fact, they are treated in recent times as economies that failed in their transition to industrial capitalism.

While some may be inclined to push the history of capitalism to the Middle Ages, and so to Renaissance Italy, it is fair to say that most students of the subject agree that the first truly capitalist economy in the world emerged in Britain some time between and Part of the confusion arises from the tendency to separate in time the development of agrarian and industrial capitalism.

Several writers are guilty of this view, but the case is more explicitly stated by Wallerstein. As he puts it, I think finally that there are two historical transitions.

One is the basic transition from feudalism to capitalism. In my mind that occurred in Europe between and , and since then we have been living in a capitalist world-economy, which then expanded to the whole world.

The second transition is industrialization or industrialism, that is, the point where capitalism became primarily geared to industry rather than agriculture It derives partly from the original scheme articulated by Marx, in which economies were expected to move progressively from one mode of production to another as the productive forces developed over time.

Capitalism was expected to follow feudalism. From theoretical expectation, historians moved on to the uncritical acceptance that capitalism did in fact follow feudalism.

What was disputed came to be the nature and causes of the transition from feudalism to capitalism. While Eric Hobsbawm queries "whether we can speak of a universal tendency of feudalism to develop into capitalism", he nevertheless accepts that in western Europe and part of the Mediterranean capitalism did emerge from feudalism.

Even if we take Wallerstein's more limited hypothesis mentioned earlier, was the British agriculture of the mid-sixteenth-century capitalist? With due allowance for the acknowledged weaknesses in the quantitative evidence, our measurable definition of capitalism allows precise answers to these questions.

Based on Henry VIII's tax subsidy of , David Levine estimates that there was a total of , free wage workers and their dependents in England out of a total population of roughly 2.

Clapham's analysis of the social statistics by Gregory King shows that even by the late seventeenth century - that is, almost one and a half centuries later - wage-earning families did not greatly outnumber self-employed families in British agriculture, being , and , respectively.

The figures for are , and ,, respectively. Mingay has argued, the transformation of copyholders and freeholders into wage labourers occurred largely after , due mainly to more than a hundred years of low and fluctuating agricultural prices which hit the small cultivators disproportionately hard.

In all probability, wage labour did not dominate the agrarian labour process until well into the eighteenth century.

In fact, according to Levine, the family farmers were superseded as the dominant productive force in English agriculture in the middle of the eighteenth century, their place taken by tenant farmers employing wage labour.

The literature on the British Industrial Revolution has undergone considerable revision since the s, especially as relates to the pace of change in output, organization and technology.

The unit of production was the family, which included wives and children from a very tender age. It is now fashionable to call this stage of industrialization, proto-industrialization.

Family labour was central to its expansion in Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and the pro to-industrial family generally supplied its own tools.

It has been estimated that as late as the s, these family units produced over threequarters of industrial output. It follows, therefore, that industrial capitalism emerged in Britain after the middle of the nineteenth century.

Hence, the British economy as a whole could not have become capitalist before the nineteenth century. Thus, for over three hundred years after the demise of feudalism in the mid-fifteenth century, there was no capitalist economy in Britain.

Hence there could not have been a transition from feudalism to capitalism in that country. The economy that emerged from the ashes of feudalism was dominated by production for market exchange by family units unfettered by the extraeconomic coercion of feudalism.

This socioeconomic organization did not need the prior development of feudalism for its emergence, although the continued existence of feudalism would have held it back in Britain.

In fact, similar socioeconomic formations existed in parts of the United States from the colonial period and in much of twentieth-century tropical Africa without the prior existence of feudalism.

What facilitated the development of capitalism in Britain was not the prior development of feudalism, but the deep and extensive penetration of the economy by market exchange at an early stage.

This commercialization of economy and society was a long drawn out process, led by the international trade in raw wool and woollen cloth, and also by population growth from the second half of the fifteenth century to the seventeenth century.

It will be argued subsequently that the commercialization of economy and society, especially the commercialization of Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism 75 agriculture and the class structure and politics associated with it, made the British economy highly responsive to the pressures and opportunities that arose in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but did not guarantee the development of capitalism.

It is often not realized that the basic institutions of a capitalist economy - insurance, banking and stock exchange - developed relatively recently in the British economy.

Apart from the Bank of England which was established in 1 , there were no banks in England in the proper sense before the eighteenth century.

There is some indication that the banking habit was not firmly established in eighteenth-century England, even among the very wealthy.

He died richer than I imagined. Again, it will be argued in the sections that follow that the development of financial institutions in the eighteenth century was a major factor in the development of British capitalism, and that these institutions developed in response to the expansion of market demand for credit, a demand largely associated with the slave-based Atlantic economy.

The controversy appropriately centres on industrial development, usually referred to as the Industrial Revolution.

It must be noted that many of the writers are not concerned with the history of capitalism and often do not even mention the term. However, emphasis on free wage labour as the defining element of capitalism and the argument that industrialization was the key factor in the growth of wage labour to a position of dominance in the British economy make all contributions to the subject of British industrialization relevant.

The argument for supply points to technological development as the source of British industrial growth.

Within the latter argument itself there are opposing views: was technological progress the work of practical men wholly innocent of scientific principles or did it depend on the growth of scientific knowledge?

The literature contains several contributions on both sides of the question. Some emphasize the role of domestic demand arising from agricultural development and population growth.

Technological change, capital accumulation, improvements in organization and attitudes all made it possible to produce food, clothing, pots, and toys cheaper and better.

He concludes, The old schoolboy view of the Industrial Revolution as a "wave of gadgets" may not be far off the mark after all, provided we allow for "more" as well as for "better" gadgets, and we include abstract improvements such as organizational change, changes in workers' attitudes, and so forth, as "gadgets" in a wider sense.

The consensus emerging from recent research may be summarized as follows. The first phase of British industrialization, , was characterized by a much slower rate of growth than was previously thought, and was dominated by the old domestic system, with the merchant capitalist in control of the process.

The merchant entrepreneurs expanded output by spreading production to more and more family producers in rural England.

These family producers usually employed their own tools, for which reason the merchant entrepreneur had no need to invest considerable sums in fixed capital expenditures.

What was needed in large amounts was circulating capital for the purchase of raw materials, payments to the family producers, and the cost of distributing the finished product, especially the extension of credit to exporters.

The main source of Mokyr's error, it would appear, was his rejection of the idea that in the years , British industrialization proceeded under conditions of large-scale underutilization of resources.

It has also been shown that a major element in the industrial expansion of the period was the large-scale employment of women and children in peasant households, a development which contributed significantly to increases in the incomes of rural families.

On the other hand, the adoption of homeostatic demographic behaviour by peasant families from the middle decades of the seventeenth century indicates that rural England had some population to spare before the growth of industry in the eighteenth century began.

Hence, the reduction of the number of small farmers during the period of more than one hundred years before , due to the combined effects of declining agricultural prices and growing employment opportunities in industry and commerce,54 amounts to the employment of previously underutilized labour.

What is more, this reduction in the number of small farmers allowed a more rational organization of British agriculture to be effected through the enlargement of farms and enclosure.

Further evidence on the critical role of market demand comes from English demographic history. As already stated, the growth of industrial output between and was due largely to a massive input of human labour.

The combined evidence from the detailed demographic research of Wrigley and Schofield on the one hand, and that of Levine on the other, now shows that British industry largely created its own labour through the demographic response of peasant and proletarian families to the demand for industrial labour.

The mechanism was a decline in the age at first marriage and a reduction in the number of women remaining unmarried for life. Earlier, peasant families had adopted a homeostatic demographic practice to maintain the equilibrium between family size and the family land through delayed 18 Slavery, Freedom and Gender marriage.

If it is clear from the evidence we have marshalled that demand was the prime mover in the first years of British industrialization, the next problem is the relative importance of domestic and overseas demand.

From the early s, the literature on this subject was very much influenced by the a priori argument of Deane and Cole.

However, they argued that because the growth of overseas demand during the period came largely from British America, whose demand for British goods, they assumed, was derived from British consumption of colonial produce, British domestic demand was the source of that growth in the first instance.

Deane and Cole explain the growth of British domestic demand in terms of agricultural improvement and population growth. This argument has been heavily criticized over the years.

This was particularly the case for British North American tobacco. In addition, the British American colonies had extensive trade with the rest of the Americas and also with southern Europe, all of which, together with the growth of population in these colonies, provided sources of income growth independent of British consumer demand.

These colonial incomes growing from several sources ended up being spent on British manufactures. What is more, a large amount of British export of manufactures during the period went to Portugal and Spain, paid for with incomes generated by Portuguese and Spanish American colonies.

Finally, the evidence presented on British demographic history during the period makes clear the weakness of Deane and Cole's population argument. Once the logical implication of the evidence is freed from Deane and Cole's a priori argument, it becomes easy to demonstrate the leading role of overseas demand in all its complexity.

In this we must differentiate between the factors at play at the starting point and those that carried the process forward subsequently.

As I have argued elsewhere, British industrialization followed a process of import substitution, with a long interval. Not until the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century did several industries, such as cotton, linen, silk and some metal-using industries, develop on the basis of import substitution.

The significance of this point is that industrial growth in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century was not due to growing overall British domestic incomes at the time; it was based on pre-existing domestic demand built up over centuries of British external and internal trade.

That the purchasing power of domestic consumers of manufactures in Britain at this time was not particularly high, and that it was growing rather slowly, is indicated by the short space of time within which output in these import substitution industries reached the limit of pre-existing home demand, and manufacturers began frantically to search for export markets.

But this still leaves the problem of determining whether internal forces in Europe or those emanating from the growth of the slave-based Atlantic economy provided the dynamics for the growth of British exports during the period under consideration.

One of the most forceful arguments for internal forces within Europe was developed by O'Brien. As long as oceanic trade remained as a tiny proportion of total economic activity it could not propel Europe towards an industrial society.

This is because a large amount of British domestic exports to Europe at this time depended on the economies of the Americas.

In particular, British domestic exports to Spain and Portugal depended heavily on incomes generated by Spanish and Portuguese America.

For our critical comments to reflect the current literature adequately, something must be said about recent Marxian explanations represented by Robert Brenner's writings.

The difficulty here is where to locate these arguments. It is clear enough that Brenner does not believe that the emergence and growth of the slave-based Atlantic system was the main source of British industrial development in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

But he does not support a supply argument as such; he does not see the Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism 21 autonomous development of technology as the main source of British industrialization during the period in question.

A careful reading of his arguments would suggest that he sees demand arising from the growth of trade as a critical factor, but not the prime mover.

For Brenner, the prime mover was "class struggle". Insofar as demand was important, it came largely from agriculture; British industrialization had its origin in British agriculture.

This was possible, in the first instance, because of the early development of agrarian capitalism in England, which was due, in turn, to a unique history of class struggle in rural England, Brenner argues.

First, as was demonstrated earlier, there was no capitalist agriculture in Britain in the seventeenth century. British agriculture was still dominated by family producers at this time.

Second, the demand aspect of the argument derives entirely from the earlier argument of Deane and Cole. Responding to the latter's argument that exports to the Americas were the main factor which explains the differing experiences of Britain and Holland in eighteenth-century industrialization,74 Brenner said, the success of England was fundamentally based on the transformation of agriculture and on major increases in agricultural productivity.

As Professor Smit commented yesterday, 18th century economic growth in England was heavily dependent on colonial markets. But it may also be argued that these, in turn, depended quite strongly on the ability of the English home market to absorb the colonies' exports.

Finally, Brenner's class struggle argument has no explanatory power. He fails to show the historical process which gave rise to the formation of the classes, the factors which affected the relative strengths and weaknesses of the classes over time, and the available opportunities which determined the way the class members perceived what was in their self-interest and so influenced the choices made.

Failing to do all this, Brenner presents class struggle as a deus ex machina, a god without history whose mysterious presence helps to explain the development of agrarian capitalism in England and the subsequent Industrial Revolution derived from the latter.

Had Brenner seriously investigated the history of class formation in England from the medieval era to the mid-nineteenth century, he would have found enough evidence to be convinced that the evolution of the classes, 22 Slavery, Freedom and Gender changes in their relative strengths and weaknesses, and the conditions that determined the choices which the class members made all depended heavily on market developments over the centuries.

Similarly, the weaknesses of arguments seeking to show the primacy of growing domestic demand derived from agricultural productivity and population growth have been demonstrated.

I have therefore been able to stress the leading role of overseas demand and to emphasize that the growth of production and trade across the Atlantic was the key factor in the expansion of overseas demand for British manufactures during the period under consideration.

The problem now is to determine the extent to which the growth of production and trade across the Atlantic depended on the slave trade from Africa and African slavery in the Americas.

The assessment has to be based on the empirically verifiable premise that by actual purchasing power in all regions of the Atlantic area -western Europe, Africa and the Americas -was far below the potential level, defined as the exchangeable surplus that Atlantic societies could produce with the use of existing resources and technology.

In other words, the level of effective demand and production for market exchange in these societies at the time did not depend on their ability to produce a marketable surplus, but on market opportunities.

Market opportunities were strictly limited due to the low level of development of division of labour within and between Atlantic subregions.

Given this situation, the expansion of commerce across the Atlantic was capable of moving purchasing power towards its potential level through a vent-for-surplus mechanism, for as long as there were new products whose consumption was seen by consumers to be worth the effort to procure the wherewithal.

For the rest of the chapter, I argue that the growth of market opportunities in the Atlantic area from the seventeenth century on arose from a forced division of labour at a time when land-labour ratios generally encouraged subsistence production in the Americas and Africa, and inland transportation problems and the multiplicity of restrictive tariffs limited market opportunities in Europe.

Before the seventeenth century, the use of coerced labour to exploit the resources of the Americas was largely in the gold and silver mines of Spanish America.

Reliable demographic evidence for these early years is wanting, but the available information suggests that African slave labour was already important in the sixteenth century mines of Spanish America.

It stimulated the growth of market production in the region. But it did not provide a significant basis for large-scale exchange of goods and services in the Atlantic area outside Europe.

This came later with the development of large-scale agricultural production for Atlantic commerce in the seventeenth century. The pioneer here was Brazil and the dominant product was sugar.

Brazil remained a major producer of export commodities from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth, widening the range of products over time to include gold, coffee, tobacco and cotton.

Apart from the use of Indian slaves in the early part of the sixteenth century, Brazilian production of commodities for Atlantic trade was almost entirely by African slaves.

This is reflected by the ethnic composition of the populations of the export-producing regions, such as Pernambuco, Bahia, Minas Gerais, Goias and Mato Grosso.

In the later colonial period, people of African origin were Worried about events in Dahomey, he wrote: Be it known to Your Majesty what is taking place on the Mina Coast and what has happened to our director at Ajuda, Joao Basilic, who has been detained by the King of Dahomey.

This matter is of the greatest importance, because of the detrimental consequences that could result for the Mina Coast trade which supports the principal interest of the state of Brazil, because without Negroes there can be neither gold, nor sugar, nor tobacco.

This, again, was entirely dependent on African slave labour. Before the middle decades of the seventeenth century, the production of subsistence crops had dominated the islands' economies and export production was marginal.

From the second half of the seventeenth century, the massive import of Africans made it possible for commodity production for Atlantic trade to grow rapidly, while the production of subsistence crops was drastically reduced.

This is reflected by the transformation of the ethnic composition of the Caribbean population. In the combined population of Barbados, Jamaica and the Leeward Islands was made up of 33, whites and 22, African slaves; but in the whites numbered 32, and African slaves were , A contemporary European observer wrote in that in Cuba had , whites and 30, Africans.

He then stated: Cuba is very fertile, and the lands are universally considered as being equal to the best parts of St. In the United States, from the colonial period to the Civil War, African slaves also dominated the production of commodities for Atlantic trade.

The main products involved were rice, tobacco and cotton. These were produced in the colonies to the south, and later in the southern states of the United States.

This, again, was in the south. Cotton production in the southern states increased from 2,, Ib in to 1. The regional distribution of African slaves in the United States reflected the dominance of production for Atlantic trade by African Americans before the Civil War.

Of the , African slaves in the United States in , , were in the south and in there were 3,, African slaves in the old and new south, working mostly on the cotton plantations.

The imposition of colonial law enabled producers in Europe to capture much of the markets. But several New World regions, whose natural resource endowments did not favour massive use of slaves for the production of export commodities, still managed to obtain a significant share, legally or illegally.

Thus family farmers in the middle colonies of British North America took advantage of the lucrative food markets in the Caribbean slave plantations to move increasingly from subsistence farming to commercial production of foodstuffs for export to the West Indies, British and non-British.

The northeastern continental colonies, on the other hand, found in the Caribbean specialization lucrative markets for their natural resource endowments in deep natural harbours and forests full of trees suitable for the building of sailing ships.

This encouraged New England to specialize from the colonial period in maritime commerce, shipping and shipbuilding.

Among other things, it was a distribution centre for North American foodstuffs going to several Caribbean islands.

Measuring the annual value of this trade in the two hundred years leading to the emergence of a capitalist economy in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century is 26 Slavery, Freedom and Gender a neglected subject.

The evidence in some cases is as yet inadequate. The result of the exercise is approximately 75 per cent for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

In this, the early commercialization of economy and society in England was important. However the importance of this factor can easily be exaggerated.

Economies and societies in Holland and Italy were also highly commercialized in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

In fact, Jan de Vries holds that "England's agricultural progress in the seventeenth century served mainly to bring her up to the standard already achieved in the Netherlands and Northern Italy, and not to leave them behind in a trail of smoke.

Moreover the rural class structure in these areas appears to have been equally favourable to capitalistic farming, if not identical to the English.

This ensured her domination of the Atlantic and its territories. Added to this was the strategic role of British America in the economic life of the Americas.

Through this role incomes in the New World gravitated to consumers in British America, particularly the continental colonies.

And the concentrated purchasing power was spent on British manufactures, as colonial laws dictated. The slave trade that supplied the Americas their main labour force was also dominated by Britain in the eighteenth century.

In all sorts of ways, Britain also exported manufactures directly to Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism 27 Portuguese and Spanish America in the eighteenth century, and still more so in the nineteenth.

While this domination of Atlantic commerce was important for all sectors of the British economy, it was even more important for sectors that were central to the industrialization process: textiles, metallurgy and financial institutions.

As was mentioned earlier, the surge of industrial production in England from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was the product of import substitution, which gave rise to a host of new industries.

The expansion of these new industries was responsible for the growth of manufacturing employment in England from to They also spearheaded the growth of the factory system and industrial technology.

Atlantic commerce was central to the process leading to the establishment of these industries and to their subsequent development.

The domestic market for their products developed in association with the growth of English overseas trade from to , during which period these products were imported from European countries, mainly Holland and Germany, and from Asia.

Bullion from the Americas paid for the Asian imports, while the re-export of produce from British America largely paid for the imports from Europe.

The initial narrowness of the English domestic market made overseas purchases crucial to the sustained development of these industries very early in their history.

As Davis wrote in the late s, The expansion of the American market for iron- and brass-ware was on so great a scale that it must have contributed very significantly to the eighteenth-century development of those industries in England, and so to the process of rationalization, of division of labour, of search for new machines and new methods which helped so much towards the Industrial Revolution.

Payment for slaves purchased by British traders absorbed between 30 per cent and 58 per cent of the total export 28 Slavery, Freedom and Gender of English cotton textiles from to Even a summary account of the contribution of Atlantic commerce to the expansion of industrial employment in England during the period under consideration, such as we have attempted, cannot fail to mention the shipbuilding industry that was strongly linked to the shipping of slaves and slave-produced commodities.

The building of new ships, repairing old ones, and the fitting of both for each ocean voyage were a major business in England in the eighteenth century.

In the twenty-one years from to , a total of 12, new vessels, measuring altogether about 1. The purchase of slaves in Africa, shipping them to the Americas, the production of tropical and semitropical commodities in the Americas, the cost of distributing them all over the Atlantic and Europe, and the costly wars through which Britain wrested the bulk of Atlantic commerce from other nations, all these regularly called for extensive Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism 29 capital outlays that were several times greater than British trade at home and with Europe ever required.

I have tried elsewhere to show the details of this all-important aspect of capitalist development in Britain. V To conclude, let me stress once again that Britain's disproportionate share of Atlantic commerce between and is the main factor which explains why the first capitalist economy in the world emerged in that country in the nineteenth century.

The social structures that evolved in Britain from the late medieval period to the seventeenth century made important contributions, but on their own they could not ensure the development of capitalism, as the history of Italy and Holland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries makes clear.

The emergence of a capitalist economy, as here defined, from the precapitalist socioeconomic formations that existed across the globe before the nineteenth century required an extensive trading area within which intensive exchange of goods and services would take place on a regular basis.

The initial high cost of inland transportation ruled out extensive land areas as candidates for the development of such an intensive trading zone.

The rise of nation-states in western Europe from the fifteenth century, and the rivalry and balance of power that developed, limited further the possibility of such an intensive trading area ever developing within western Europe unaided by economic forces outside the region.

Choked by economic nationalism, expressed in a multiplicity of restrictive tariffs, the economies of western Europe found the needed opportunity in the growth of Atlantic commerce founded upon African slave labour from the sixteenth century.

But as Wallerstein has argued, the production and trading opportunities offered by the Atlantic system were not great enough to permit the development of more than one capitalist economy during the period in question; hence the cut-throat military struggle among western European nations over the opportunities.

Acknowledgements The chapter benefited from helpful comments by Karen E. Stanley L. Engerman also read the first draft. To these wonderful colleagues I express my gratitude.

Of course, whatever errors of fact and analysis there may be are entirely mine. I also thank Lela Sims-Gissendanner and Charlette W.

Henry of the Frederick Douglass Institute for the typing. Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, , v.

The best-known critics of Williams on the politics of abolition are Roger T. Anstey, The Atlantic Slave Trade and British Abolition London: Macmillan, , and Seymour Drescher, Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press, For some recent contributions to the subject see Ronald W.

Bailey, "Africa, the Slave Trade, and the Rise of Industrial Capitalism in Europe and the United States: A Historiographic Review", American History: A Bibliographic Review II : See also J.

Inikori, "Market Structure and the Profits of the British African Trade in the Late Eighteenth Century", Journal of Economic History XLI, no.

See the sources discussed by Rodney Hilton, "Capitalism: What's in a Name? Hilton London: Verso, , Maurice Dobb, Studies in the Development of Capitalism London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, , ; Hilton, "Capitalism", ; Andre Gunder Frank, Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America New York: Monthly Review Press, ; Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modem World System, vol.

Slavery and the Rise of Capitalism 7. Maurice Dobb, Capitalism: Yesterday and Today London: Lawrence and Wishart, , Neale, "Property, Law, and the Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism", in Feudalism, Capitalism and Beyond, ed.

Kamenka and R. Neale London: Edward Arnold, , 18; Karl Marx, Wage Labour and Capital Moscow: Progress Publishers, , Neale, "Property, Law", Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Pristine Culture of Capitalism: A Historical Essay on Old Regimes and Modem States London: Verso, Robert Brenner, "The Origins of Capitalist Development: A Critique of Neo-Smithian Marxism", New Left Review July-August : Tawney, Foreword to The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, by Max Weber New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, , l b -l c.

Weber, Protestant Ethic, Max Weber, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, ed. Roth and C.

Wittich, vol. See Macfarlane, Origins of English Individualism and Macfarlane, Culture of Capitalism. Macfarlane, Culture of Capitalism, See various papers in Robert J.

Antonio and Ronald M. Glassman, eds. Brenner, "Origins of Capitalist Development", John G. Taylor, From Modernization to Modes of Production: A Critique of the Sociologies of Development and Underdevelopment London: Macmillan, , See the sources discussed by Hilton, "Capitalism", Oliver C.

Cox, The Foundations of Capitalism New York: Philosophical Library, , Maureen F. Mazzaoui, "The Cotton Industry of Northern Italy in the late Middle Ages: ", Journal of Economic History 32 : See the various papers in Frederick Krantz and Paul M.

Hohenberg, eds. Slavery, Freedom and Gender This is the basis for the recent controversy on the historical origin of the contemporary problems of the British economy, centred on the nature of its development of capitalism.

Some argue that, being the first capitalist economy, its development of capitalism was incomplete, and the remnants of precapitalist elements are responsible for its poor performance in contemporary times relative to economies that developed capitalism later.

The opposite is also argued, that because Britain was the first capitalist nation, it developed capitalism to an extreme level relative to later capitalist nations, thereby weakening the non-capitalist elements such as long-term focused government intervention which enable the later comers to more effectively control the exclusively short-term considerations that characterize pure capitalism.

See the stimulating discussion of these issues by Wood, Pristine Culture. Immanuel Wallerstein, "Failed Transitions or Inevitable Decline of the Leader?

The Workings of the Capitalist World-Economy: General Comments", in Failed Transitions to Modem Industrial Society: Renaissance Italy and Seventeenth Century Holland, ed.

Krantz and P. Hohenberg Montreal: Interuniversity Centre for European Studies, , See the debate provoked by Maurice Dobb's Studies in the Development of Capitalism London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, in Hilton, Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism.

Eric J. Hobsbawm, "From Feudalism to Capitalism", in The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism, ed. Levine believes that this is a generous estimate, because "it is unlikely that all or even the majority of those adult males assessed on wages were lifelong proletarians".

See David Levine, "Production, Reproduction, and the Proletarian Family in England, ", in Proletarianization and Family History, ed.

Levine Orlando: Academic Press, , Levine, "Production", Clapham, "The Growth of an Agrarian Proletariat, A Statistical Note", Cambridge Historical Journal I : Peter H.

Lindert, "English Occupations, ", Journal of Economic History 40 : ; Peter H. Lindert and J. Mingay, Enclosure and the Small Farmer in the Age of the Industrial Revolution London: Macmillan, , As late as there were still numerous self-employed producers in British agriculture.

The census of that year shows that out of a total of , families employed in agriculture, , were self-employed and , were wage-earning families. See Clapham, "Growth of an Agrarian Proletariat", 93; also Levine, "Production",

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