Essay on Book Report: Capitalism & Slavery, Eric Williams

1518 Words Oct 29th, 2007 7 Pages
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Thursday February 7th 2006

Book Report: Capitalism & Slavery, Eric Williams

"Capitalism & Slavery," (published by The University of North Carolina Press, 1994) was written by Eric Eustace Williams and first published in 1944. Eric Williams' book, was at the time of its publication, considered years ahead of its time. It should be noted, early on within this report that, literary works on the history of the Caribbean or slavery for a matter of fact, was done by Europeans. In the preface of his book, Williams clearly asserts that his work, "is not a study of the institution of slavery but of the contribution of slavery to the development of British capitalism."1 His work takes an economic view of history, which is at the
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The only time slaves would be allowed to stop working is when they were in a coffin. Furthermore, once you were born into slavery, there was no escape; your offspring would be a salve too in contrast to indentured labor. This also meant that African salves provided a constant workforce as the only way the African workforce could diminish was through death whereas the indentured worker could leave after their tenure is completed. Finally and most importantly, the African slave was cheaper and Africa contained an abundant supply of labor. Thus, it can be seen that it was economic, not racial reasoning behind, African slavery. Another misconception that Williams corrects in his book is the belief that white communities cannot survive in the Caribbean. However, the author make clear there is evidence of Germans who settled in Jamaica over one hundred years ago, "survive today, with no visible signs of deterioration, flatly contradicting the popular belief as to the possibility of survival of the northern white in the tropics."7 Hence, Capitalism & Slavery can be seen as being important in dispelling many incorrect misconceptions. British writers had dominated the history of the Caribbean at a scholarly level since the time of Columbus. Higman, writes that, "representations of the past were the work of oral historians or of an elite possessed of the resources needed to

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