Notes of Books on Urban History

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by Bailyn, Behrendt, Bernard, Stephen
Short, sweet, and to the point, Behrendt argues that seasonal climate changes in Africa were the greatest determinant in the seasonality of the slave trade. Basically, after the African rainy season, Yams (and other crops) used to feed the slaves on the passage were harvested. Then, after the harvest was in, the local leaders would go to war, in large part (and increasing) wars were to acquire slaves to sell to the Europeans. Flooded streams in the rainy season also made inland water transportation easier, and allowed ships to restock drinking water for the middle passage.

On an aside, Behrendt noted a primary source letter which described the maize fields grown in Africa as having beans, yams, and potatoes grown between the maize stalks. This is very similar to the three sisters plantings of native Americans, and could be an American influence upon African culture.

Britain as a military power: 1688-1815 by Black, Jeremy
Black attempts to make a counter argument to Brewer’s The Sinews of Power, which decreases Brewer’s emphasis on British fiscal and economic management, and advocates more for British military might. “It is a central thesis of this book that Britain’s rise in and to power was not inevitable, and that it had to be fought for.”(10). Black sees the British “military” operating in four spheres: (1) domestically, in opposition to public disorder and rebellion, (2) fighting other European land powers, (3) naval, (4) in trans-oceanic land conflicts (especially in North American and India). Black states that “Britain’s global triumphs rested on naval power(107)” which was generally seen as supporting Britain’s two goals of security, for Britain and her trade, and maritime hegemony. Agrees that keeping a fleet in the Channel “proved crucial in affecting the course of the war at sea.(97)” Black does correctly point out that the British rise to power on a global scale could be more appropriately dated to before the Glorious Revolution, and seems to suggest that the formation of Henry VIII armada as a better starting point. He also questions whether the notion that military effectiveness should be linked to modernity (271). The book reads much like the work of a military historian who is desperately grasping to show that the field of military history can and does have academic arguments. Black also seems to have a severe case of hero worship for many British military and naval heroes, implying that they were the primary source for Britain’s rise to power and perhaps further suggesting that men of such ability were unique – i.e. only Nelson could have won Tralfalger and Wellington Waterloo; thereby attempting to further his argument by placing the military successes more on the Machiavellian virtue of a few God-given leaders than on the finances and supplies given to the army and navy. Incidents such as stating that the British Army “fired two volleys in response” to the initial shot places the blame for the first shot on the Americans (p164) while mentioning the “impressment at sea of British-born American sailors”(274) which conveniently ignores the impressments of all American born sailors and seems to lend justification to the R.N.’s actions make one seriously wonder the accuracy of the nuances of the rest of Black’s historical commentary.

The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783 by Brewer, John
Preface The book is about the growing powers of the central government in Great Britain. Brewer states that “the changes of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were concerned not with domestic regulation but with enhancing the government’s ability to wage war” (xi). Brewer sees finance, administration, and war as the central focus of British dominance in the era.

In the early 18th C., “Britain was on the threshold of becoming a transcontinental power (xiii).” One explanation for this focuses on British army and sailors, as well as key leaders. A second interpretation emphasizes Britain’s economic and commercial roots and the advantages these gave Britain. (This view is split into two: one that celebrates Britain’s commercial growth, and one that draws attentions to the victims of British policy) (xv). Brewer sees victory in battle as relying heavily on a supply of men and war materials, which in turn relied on “sufficient money and proper organization (xc);” therefore, ultimately on the raising of money by the government. “The late 17th and 18th centuries saw an astonishing transformation in British government, one which put muscle on the bones of the British body politic, increasing its endurance, strength and reach. Britain was able to shoulder an ever-more ponderous burden of military commitments thanks to a radical increase in taxation, the development of pubic deficit, finance (a national debt) on an unprecedented scale, and the growth of a sizable public administration devoted to organizing the fiscal and military activities of the state (xvii). “ What Brewer terms the fiscal-military state emerged as “the most important transformation in English government between the domestic reforms of the Tudors and the major administrative changes in the first half of the nineteenth century (xvii).”

Changes in contemporary warfare increased the price of standing armies and triggered a fear of standing armies by certain intelligencia, who were afraid they would be used by monarchs to enslave their subjects. Britain enjoyed a military prowess without becoming a despotic regime. “The heavy-handedness of British rule increased the farther it extended beyond the metropolis (xix).”

“States are not just centres of power; they are also sources of authority whose effectivelness depends on the degree of legitimacy that both regimes and their actions are able to command. Broadly speaking the less legitimacy, the greater the ‘friction’ produced by the conduct of the state and the more resources it has to devote to achieve the same effect.” Parliament constrained the crown to some degree, but also legitimized it to some degree. “The constraints on power meant that when it was exercised, it was exercised fully. As long as the fiscal-military state did not cross the bulwarks erected to protect civil society from militarization it was given its due (xv).”

Chapter 1
“Though the fiscal-military state emerged as a result of a particular political crisis, it had to exploit and accommodate itself to existing institutions” (3). Early centralization, limited participation in European wars, and relatively small level of venality gave the British fiscal-military state advantages over its continental rivals.

Early Centralization
England national institutions were stronger compared to other countries because of a weakness of English regionalism and particularism. The county was too small a unit to sustain local assemblies or powerful lords. Early kings hired notables to enforce common law, resulting in an early fusion of local and national governments(4). Parliament developed along with the Crown, and existed not just as a adjunct to royal power, but as an outlet of opposition to the crown; Parliament became “a place of negotiation between the monarch and his subjects(4).” The Crown’s need for tax money, especially during the Hundreds Year War, assisted in unifying Parliament. Parliament conferred legitimacy on the centralized government.

Small Military Force
Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (1453-1689), England was not involved majorly in any European land wars, while many other European states were. During this period, military operations were becoming more modernized and expensive. This had the effect of not depleting English resources as readily as some other European states depleted theirs (14-15). England also had a much smaller number of court officers, compared to the French; the French officers ate up large sums of the public treasury. “England’s greatest advantage ws that it was never put to the sort of grueling fiscal-military test that year after year drained the nation of its resources and the Treasury of its wealth (21).”

Venality – the act of selling public offices – was not as common in England as in other European counties, especially France; the greatest years of English venality were the years of war when the crown needed more money (20). Britain avoided gross cases of venality because she could raise the money she needed by other means (70).

Chapter 2
After 1688 Britain maintained a peacetime standing army of around 35,000 (grew to 45,000 after the 7 years war) which served as the nucleus of a larger army in time of war (32). Militias were drilled for defense of Britain. Royal Navy seen as first line of defense and received the bulk of the military budget. After 1688 old navy yards were repaired and expanded, new ones built. Navy yards were the largest industrial units of their day (36). Naval provisioning required complex organizational skills. Brewer suggests that some states “provided their subjects with certain civil freedoms were thereby better able to mobilize their resources for war (38).” Parliament obtained significant control over the army and prevented concentration of power. British population remained remarkably free from contact with armies (theirs or foreign) when compared to populations of other countries. Military law was usually lower than civil law; troop movements and billeting were constrained by law.

“Between the late seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries the British army and navy acquired a degree of professionalism they had never before enjoyed. Sustained commitment to both, made possible by the fiscal capacity of the state, created a standing army and permanent navy.(55)”

“Britain experienced her military revolution a century after most other European powers (61).”

Chapter 3 – Civil Administration
Before late seventeenth century, England had a small central government when compared to European nations. This changed under Charles II and James II who assumed control over large areas for tax collection and attempted to both increase revenue and increase the crown’s authority over royal officers (65). The number of government employees grew, especially in revenue departments.

Excise – an indirect tax on commodities (initially beer and some others) which is passed on to consumer.

Excise department was the most important of the fiscal offices It was also the most professionally run. The absences of a large office holding class in Britain meant that there was not too much resistance to administrative growth and innovation (69-70). Limited venality meant that the departments had a lighter overhead. Accountability developed which constrained administrative malpractice.

Patronage was still common place. Offices which were nests of patrons and their followers began to be replaced with boards and committees (83). Employees began to be less answerable to their patrons and more to the department as a whole.

“… there were strong pressures, both within and outside the executive, to keep administration comparatively free of both party politicking and rampant chicanery (79).” - perhaps the start of the modern bureaucratic system?

As they expanded, these administrative hierarchies created their own “hierarchies of experience and competence (80).”

Civil administrative reforms had two main components: (1) attempts to limit the power and influence of the crown and (2) reduce costs while improving the workings of the government. The achieved only a small and slow success (87).

Chapter 4 – Money
“The single most important task of the bureaucracy was to raise money. After 1688 England’s options to raise were limited to levying taxes or seeking voluntary loans. The state’s ability to borrow was based upon the belief that it could repay the debt from future taxes. Substantial and regular income were therefore needed for the new credit mechanisms.

Tax Collection
After the Restoration, tax collecting was disorganized, relying on four different groups of men to collect taxes. Between the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution, tax reforms brought control to the system, especially the formation of the Treasury Board. Treasury Board acquired “a monopoly on comprehensive fiscal knowledge (92).” The chief taxes the crown relied on were the customs tax (duties on international trade – usually imports) and the excise tax (especially on alcohol). Between 1688 and 1714 the revenue was “dominated by direct taxation in the form of the land tax; thereafter indirect taxes, most notably the excise, were overwhelmingly the most important source of state income (95).”

Relying on excise taxes hid the tax and relied upon the highly proficient excise revenue officers to collect it. Excise tax had two branches, the metropolitan and the provinces (or country). The work required a technically competent staff. English tax collecting was “in the hands of centrally appointed government officials.(127)” The Treasury Board was the first centralized government agency in Europe to control both receipt and disbursement, and as such the first to keep full accounts of government spending and revenue (129).

By contrast, land tax hardly had any administrative oversight of its collection, and the Customs had to other tasks such as smugglers, enforcing navigation laws, and guarding against foreign invasion – all of which limited their tax collecting ability (101).

England’s peers, gentlemen, and clergy were not exempted from paying taxes. The centralized national character of England and their acceptance of Parliament aided in orderly tax collection. Public accounting records assisted in placating the population regarding taxes.

Public Credit
Two types of public debts, short-term unfunded and long-term funded.

Short-term debt – exchequer bills, navy, transport, and victualling bills which were issued to meet day-to-day needs. Exchequer bills were the chief means of raising short-term loans and were interest bearing bills redeemable on demand and managed b the Bank of England. Other bills were paid off ‘in course’ – sequentially in the order they were issued. As the size of short term debt increased, it took longer and longer to pay off debts in course. This decreased the bills desirability, allowing for them to be traded at a discount, and caused credit-crises during the wars.

Long-term debt – Long term loans were designed to allow people to hold onto the documents and only collect interest over longer periods of time, like 99 years. Documents were transferable. New taxes or increased rates in taxation were necessary to pay off this interest. “Fiscal policy during all eighteenth-century wars therefore contained two, interrelated components: long-term loans of increasing size; and an increase in indirect taxes in order to pay the interest on them.(116-119)” Government’s increased dependence on indirect taxes after 1714 was linked to long-term national debt.

Repeal of these taxes would undermine public confidence in debt being repaid. Taxes could only be ended in one of three ways: (1) the loan would be fully paid off, (2) if market interest rates fell, the government would not have to pay so much interest, and could therefore cut tax rates correspondingly, (3) replace an existing tax with another one.

Long-term debt in two periods: (1) before the Hanoverian Succession – which saw floating, fixed-term loans, and (2) after 1713 – which was loans with no repayment date. The development of a market in securities, made in part by the Bank of England, is what allowed the government to borrow so much. Many government issued annuities could not be paid off early by the government, resulting in continued interest payments.

The Bank of England, and its collaboration with the Treasury and leading London financers meant that the government could get credit when it needed it; even during war years.

Chapter 5
Between 1688 and 1714 the British state acquired all the main features of a powerful fiscal-military state: high taxes, a growing and organized civil administration, a standing army (and navy), and determination to act as a major European power.

Charles Tilly: “war made the state, and the state made war.” (137). War was responsible for the expansion but did not cause “the expansion of the state apparatus (137).” Several times in the seventeenth century, before 1688, the monarch or head of state attempted to bring England into European hostilities, but was “restrained by fiscal conservatism and parsimony of the House of Commons (137).” In early modern Europe was tended to diminish state power, as governments had to rely more and more on private military enterprises. In England a public fiscal-military state emerged, “remarkably untainted by private interests (139).” This limited corruption and thus improved efficiency. Brewer claims that administrative reforms initiated by the Stuarts were partly responsible for the British efficiency.

The making of foreign policy was a prerogative of the crown, although Parliament did attempt to restrict this power. Louis XIV’s aggressive policies actually helped William secure English support for war with France. By the 1690s, William and Mary’s weak hold on the throne, fear of Jacobian insurrections, apprehension about the fate of Protestantism, and fear of French invasion all helped the anti-Catholic/anti-French elements in England (141-142). Arguments for war now seemed persuasive. (This probably aided in the growth of England’s determination to act as a major European power.)

After William III assumes the throne, a general excise tax was considered, but it was thought that such a tax would give too much financial independence to the crown; also considered too hard on the poor. Land tax was preferred as it gave the landed population control. Party conflicts during William’s reign further aided in a lack of unity to get the general excise tax passed.

Growing civil administration created more opportunities for corruption.

Country persuasion (ideology) – favored parliamentary scrutiny of the crown, regular and frequent parliaments, reduction in the size of the standing army, social and moral reform. Feared loss of authority on the part of the landed classes (155-156).

After 1694 House of Commons gains control of finances.

“Those who professed to fear the fiscal-military state gradually reached an accommodation with it (160).”

Chapter 6
Blue Water strategy – flourishing trade fueled the navy, which in turn supported trade; the prevalence of this mind-set made “the use of power to secure profit unsurprising (169).” England relied on one or more European allies to divert French resources “towards an expensive European campaign, and the establishment of [British] naval supremacy(175).” Key to British success was the blue water strategy. Blue water strategy needed a European ally (178).

A coherent mercantile interest did not lobby government for their interests (at least in the earlier period).

Treaty of Utrecht (1713) – England achieved three main wartime objectives: (1) Protestant succession in England preserved and securer (2) France’s territory on the continent restrained (3) England gets foreign bases for her navy and trade (Gibraltar, Minorca, Hudson Bay, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia). This marks England’s arrival as a major European power.

“… the highly centralized character of the English state, the proficiency of her bureaucracy and the legitimacy accorded parliamentary statute meant that it was extremely difficult in England to offer overt resistance to taxes (176).” (at least in Britain – state power declined at the periphery.)

“The victories of the Seven Years War had left Britain without a European ally. (176)”

3 key features
(1) Rapidity of urbanization
(2) High proportion of population engaged in non-agricultural employment
(3) Growth of agricultural productivity which made (1) and (2) possible.

“Local and regional markets were linked together through steadily improving transport services which distributed goods by river, road, and sea (183).” This led to regional specialization in agriculture and industry which became a feature of mid-18th C. British economy. Efficient systems of distributions allowed numerous shops to carry goods produced both at home and abroad. Two-thirds of all transactions involved credit.

Chapter 7 – War and Taxes
With the exception of the 7 Years War, all the wars of the period brought about a decrease in British trade. Costs of commodities rose to offset the costs of new or increased taxes to pay for the wars. Increased hazards encouraged shares in shipping ventures, rather than individuals assuming all the risks. War was therefore an important factor in inflating prices.

Emergence of fiscal-military state had three consequences:

(1) Damage inflicted upon the ‘landed interests.’ – land owners complained most about the wars with Louis XIV. After Glorious Rev., tax burden more than doubled – most fell on land owners. During 18th C., these disadvantageous effects decreased – land taxes were lower and rates of interest decreased. Landowners diversified their income by buying government stocks or obtaining government positions.

(2) Emergence of a ‘fiscal interest.’ “… a consortium of bankers, ‘monied men,’ investors, speculators, and stock-jobbers who lived parasitically off the state’s need to borrow money to fund its wars (206).”

(3) General speculation on the deleterious effect of taxation

Chapter 8 –
Changes towards a fiscal-military state required data and knowledge, usually made public. This resulted in educations and scientific education gaining new national respect. Special interests groups, with their sources of information, could supply ministers with necessary knowledge, and so served a purpose in government. These groups were also dependent upon information provided by national and local governments.

The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century, ed. P. J. Marshall (Chap. 11) by Drayton, Richard
“The unfolding of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment in Britain coincided directly with the making of her Empire” (231). “This coincidence stemmed, in part, from the cultural and political consequences of the Reformation. The Protestant assertion of the sacred prerogatives . . . prompted the cultivation of vernacular learning, and ultimately maritime expansion.”(231). Spain’s wealth from the new world allowed them to equip armadas and fund religious wars, so England, in defense, began to expand both commerce and knowledge (relevant to increasing commerce). Trade and colonies also seen as offering philosophical opportunity; “commerce was the key to the improvement of natural knowledge” (232). War and navigation contributed to England’s scientific knowledge. “The British state, very gradually, came to patronize the arts and sciences, and learning began to depend on public support”(244). “Voyages of discovery . . . represented a principal area of cultural competition” (244). “Service to the cause of Knowledge lent dignity to an enterprise which might have appeared otherwise as mere plunder and rapine” (249).

The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century, ed. P. J. Marshall (Chap. 9) by Duffy, Michael
“The enlarged British Empire of 1815 was not the triumphant fulfillment of any detailed master-plan”(184). Although Britain and European empires were looking to the Caribbean and Americas for land to build empires, and later trade empires, the various imperialistic wars resulted in “… the real, unplanned, and unintentional, ‘swing to the East’ of British Imperial development”(184). Lose in the American War for Independence, “…in which the old Empire had come closer to annihilation and Britain closer to major invasion than ever before in the century…” “…left the British convinced that security ultimately depended on their ability to establish beyond future hazard financial and naval superiority over their rivals” (184). “Between 1775 and 1790 he warship tonnage of the European powers increased by 46.4 per cent,. . . which threatened to tie down and exhaust British financial and naval strength, jeopardizing alike her trade, Empire, and home defense in future wars”(185). “The Imperial war strategy of Dundas and Pitt was primarily directed at the conquest of France’s rich West Indian colonies, with secondary targets in France’s trading posts in India and its Indian Ocean bases on the Ile de France [Mauritius] and Ile de Bourbon [Reunion]”(186). France tried revolutionary means to slow down British conquest of French colonies. The emancipated and armed their slaves and encouraged revolt on British islands. They also attempted to acquire other European navies and bases as part of their overall naval power – captured a Dutch fleet (1795) and pressured Spain into joining on their side (1796). The French also sought to encourage a rebellion in Ireland (1793)(189). Between 1795 and 1797 British allies made peace with France and forced British (Dundas) to make a new strategy with new priorities in maritime/Imperial war: first, to make sure G.B. would maintain the resources needed to keep fighting; second, to increase Britain’s bargaining power at the conference table (190-191). In Caribbean, strategy changed to “ad hoc accumulation” (192) provided Britain kept her solid commercial base to keep war resources flowing in. British began occupying strategic points in Spanish America with which to trade British goods for bullion needed for the war effort (192-193). G.B. did not need military occupation to continue this trade. G.B. also wanted to open up North American trade, and planned to take New Orleans during the War of 1812, but failed. In 1798 three events changed British imperial ambitions. First, Irish rebellion (196). Second, British withdrawal from Saint-Domingue ended attempt to “establish a major new Empire in the West Indies.”(196). Third, in the East, Napoleon arrived in Egypt and Wellesley in India as British Governor-General. This shifted British views to the East. Wellesley disliked E.I.Co.’s policy of keeping a balance of power among Indian princes as too precarious and preferred British dominance(198). Ultimately Wellesley’s policies more than doubled the E.I.Co.’s debts and aroused opposition from home(200). G.B. also wanted to block the sea route to India, so began to focused the British on the Cape of Good Hope. Wellesley was successful because he was too far from G.B. to be effectively controlled and used the E.I.Co.’s sepoy army as auxiliaries. R.N. deployed in a greater area for a greater period of time also increased British control of commerce(202). These wars accelerated British centralization on the “conglomerate of dependencies” (203). Gave the U.K. non-European military manpower. Destroyed the naval power of Britain’s enemies and competitors (France, Spain, Holland and lesser ones) depriving them of imperial trade by which they could rebuild their military and naval forces (203). Britain’s success was haphazard and unplanned9204). Imperial war was as much played out in Europe as overseas; “the Empire was protected by the Peninusular War, which tied down so many French resources”(205). Britain’s position after Waterloo was obtained by accident, “but secured by the deliberate intent to procure British safety through the destruction of as much rival naval power as the Royal Navy, with the aid of the British and Indian armies, was able to achieve”(206).

The French Navy and the Seven Years War by Dull, Jonathan
Dull's initial account of this book implies that it is a response to other works he has read which tend to show their bias towards one or the other of the belligerents, or paint the French navy in a poor light. As such, a better understanding of his arguments might materialize if these other works have been read as well.

Every chapter in the book is a chronological look at a specific year of the war, with the first chapter looking at 1748-1756 as way of an introduction to the events leading up to the Seven Years' War. The short epilogue draws a few conclusions, mostly linking events of the Seven Years' War to the American War for Independence, the rise of French debt, and the French Revolution.

In a nutshell, Dull attempts to portray the French in a positive light while not villainizing the other European powers. France is portrayed has being led by men who are, on the whole, honorable. They are caught between a threatened reduction in their North American colonies by the English (enforced by the RN) - and the lack of power and prestige this loss would entail on the European political scene - while at the same time facing European power struggles, especially in German and Eastern Europe. After the British capture French naval vessels prior to declaring war, the French do not rush to declare war, but bide their time to build up their military and allies. Ultimately they decide to attempt to capture Hanover, ancestral home and state of George II, to use as a bargaining chip for North American territories. This invasion of German territory forces France to accept the need of a German alley, and they decide upon Austria, which is the first step in a Diplomatic Revolution. Austria sought to reclaim lands lost to Prussia during the War of the Austrian Secession, and so made a partnership with Russia to attack Prussia - bringing these states into the war. The end result of allies was a mess where France was allied with Austria and at war with the UK, but perhaps not directly and legally at war with Prussia. By contrast, Austria was not at war with England, even though England was granting subsidies to Frederick II and providing troops to an auxilary army in western Germany. Spain is initially not involved, but after failed negotiations with the UK allies itself with France and attacks Portugal. Because these alliances were loosely formed, there is a tendency for each party to attempt to negotiate with others behind the back of their allies, and even to switch sides upon the death of a monarch (as in the case of Russia).

Overall, the work places the American conflict as the primary conflict (in terms of an initial theater) and the battles in Europe and India as reactionary and necessary as ways of pressuring the other side into either making peace, or as bargaining chips at the peace table. Britain's role in assisting the Prussians seems primarily reactionary to French attempts to seize Hanover, and not a deliberate attempt by the British to force the French into investing more heavily in its army (as a defensive measure against large European armies), thus depriving resources from the navy - the so called Blue Water Strategy so prominent in Brewer's work. The whole war, from the British side, seems to be not only about expanding British territories in North America, but also about depriving the French of the fisheries in North America, which act as training grounds for French sailors. However, since Dull states that only about one third of the French navy's sailors had experience in these fisheries, it is questionable whether they were really that important. Trade with India, the Caribbean, and coastal trading could have been improved to make up for much of this loss.

Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492-1830 by Elliott, J. H.
jjr207, June 19, 2010-

A comparative history of Spanish and British colonization of the Americas.

Chapter 1:
Both nations saw the acquisition of empire depending upon a firm commitment to colonize.

Traditional view is that the Spanish colonies were based upon conquest while the British ones were based upon commerce. For example, the Spanish inhabited their colonies with conquistadores, while the English inhabited theirs with planters. Elliott suggests that these distinctions are in general correct, but often overlap. For example, Hispaniola did have profitable sugar plantations and cattle ranches rather early in its development. Overall, however, Spanish importation of silver from the colonies dominated the trade (and perhaps the history of the trade, thus further playing down the role of commerce in Spanish colonies). The Alexandrine bulls were actually an encumbrance on the Spanish royals, who took their role to convert the indigenous population seriously and therefore limited their exploitation.

By contrast, the British crown and the C of E had a very limited involvement with the colonies in the early, formative, period. Since the British were drifting towards religious pluralism at this time, and therefore becoming more tolerant, the crown also encouraged American colonies as a refuge for minorities. To pay for colonization ventures, mercantile capital had to be tapped. Hakluyt, and others, early on made sure the colonies were sustained by a coherent economic policy and stressed the colonies as a market for British domestic manufactures [presumably mostly woolens at this time]. These overtures to merchants raised the prominence of merchants in the British national conscience.

In both nations, their initial right to take the land was questioned. Spanish overcome this with adherence to Alexandrine bulls on 1493-4 and by a ritual of reading teh requerimiento (which attempted to declare and justify Spain's rights) aloud to the indigenous populations. The British tended to dismiss the Alexandrine bull and cited res nullius a Roman law which stipulated that whoever first improved unoccupied land was the rightful owner.

British history of conquering the British Isles (especially Ireland) played an important part in their colonizing policies, as did the Spanish conquest of the Moors play a part in theirs.

Elliott introduces Portuguese colonization in Africa and Asia as an alternative to the similarities between the British and the Spanish models in the Western hemisphere. Portugal did not attempt to conquer Asia and Africa, due to such reasons as the advancement of the present populations (both in numbers and technology) and local diseases which decimated the Europeans. Rather, they built forts and trading posts to take advantage of pre-existing trade networks.

By contrast, the Western hemisphere had no comparable trade networks and was loosing its local population to European diseases and had limited techonology, making conquest a more viable route.

Chapter 2:
Elliott sees mastering the American continent as a three step process:

1. Symbolic Occupation:
As manafasted in a statement of intent to take the territory in the name of a monarch, or the renaming of land according to European standards (which implies ownership.)

2. Physical Occupation:
The initial colonists, usually obtained in one of two ways:
A. The founding government gives the local commanders the right to distribute land
B. Charter - for example the Massachusetts Bay Company of 1629

Colonization required the preliminary establishment of a civil authority, either in a city, like Cortez's founding of Vera Cruz, or in a document like the Mayflower Compact.

During the initial colonizations, the Spanish tend to fan out throughout the country side, looking for new indigenous peoples to work for them. The Spanish were often eager for the glory of conquest and more concerned with establishing vassels than with acquiring land. The encomienda system was more a grant of indians as labor than of land. The Spanish also preferred urban life and built towns and cities, often on a grid pattern around a plaza mayor.

By contrast, the British tended to congregate on the Atlantic coast. New Englanders did built towns and cities, but Virginians preferred isolated farms. British also preferred a competency of a small farm to greater conquest (in part because Indians in North America were sparse and not good servents). New England colonies had the advantage of a common ideal which gave their communities stability; other colonies lacked this stability, especially when faced with large influx of immigrants. British emmigrants tended to wander throughout the colonies.

3. Peopling the Land:
Both Spain and England needed a steady stream of colonists.
Spain's tough land-ownership institutions encouraged some emigration to colonies, especially early emigration. Later colonists had a harder time since the indigenous populations learned European crafts and were tough competition. Spain also attempted a heavy regulation on emigration.
By contrast, the British crown did not regulate emigration, and due to the smaller indigenous population, the craftsmen did not face competition when they emigrated. The small indigenous populations and high mortality rate in some colonies forced the British to develop better ways of financing passages and encouraging emigration; such as the VA headright which gave 100 acres to a coloniest, and indentured servitude.

Chapter 3:
Both the British and the Spanish were initially concerned with both Christianizing and civilizing the various Indian populations.

The advanced states of the Mayan and Inca civilizations may have made them easier to conquer, as they already possessed a concentration of political power. All the Spanish had to do was replace the leadership with themselves.
Diseases had already weakened the Indians, and would continue to do so even during the Spanish conquests.
On the fringe areas, especially northern Mexico, a series of presidios were erected, although they required professional soldiers and therefore may have increased local tax burdens.
Spanish were serious about Christianizing the Indians and launched a massive effort. Many of the religious in the Americas became champions of the Indians. This forced the royals to remember the Alexandrine bulls and take action to protect the Indians. Reducciones were complexes made to allow the Indians to live in the vicinity of a religious instructor. Eventually, the Indians were given various rights, similar to the rights accorded to Spanish vassels of the Crown. As a result, many Indians in Central Mexico do adopt much of Spanish culture, including craftsmanship and Christianity.

Early on, many Spanish settlers marry Indian woman in pacts of mutually beneficial alliances. The Spanish crown supported Spanish-Indian marriages as a means to facilitate communication and conversion. Initially the Spanish had no fear of cultural degradation, although the development of a mestizo problem in later generations suggests race did enter the Spanish conscious.

The smaller groups of nomadic Indians encountered by the British were more resistant to conquest, and when weakened in wars could often regroup. In New England, the Pequots Wars (1636-7) resulted in a restructuring of tribes into a stronger force for King Philip's War (1675-6).
In some colonies, especially Virginia, strings of forts were made, but unlike the Spanish, the colonists baulked at the idea of being taxed to pay for soldiers and relied on militia.

Like Central America, the Indians in North America were ravaged by disease with an estimated 90% reduction in population prior to European settlement.

The English did not attempt to convert on the scale the Spanish did:
1. English colonies had a pluralism of beliefs making it difficult.
2. C of E was not in a position to send out large waves of missionaries.
Eliot does make various attempts like translating the Bible into an Indian language and creating prayer villages where the Indians would be removed from their traditional ways. English seemed to link Anglanizing with conversion. The Indians in these villages were usually not accepted as English, AND rejected by other Indian villages.

Before King Philip's War (1675-6) the English did attempt to treat the Indians fairly in courts and in law. After the war, Indian rights eroded and the English embarked on a policy of excluding the Indians and pushing them farther away.

Chapter 4:
In attempting to profit from the American natural resources, colonies from both countries tended to develop a single colonial export whose shifting value tended to shape the lives of the upcoming colonial elite.
Europe tended to want American commodities (especially gold and silver) while the colonies needed European goods and settlers, thus ensuring a rapid transatlantic development.
". . . the interests of the settlements were ruthlessly subordinated to thos of an imperial metropolis. . . (p114)."
Spanish conquerers wished to maintain their Spanish lifestyles, necessitating large changes to the American economies, including the planting of wheat and the introduction of European life stock. Imported large quantities of grain, oil, and wine from Seville.
Plunder gradually gave way to development. After silver, sugar and hides become large exports.

After 1540s large silver deposits found in Mexico; Crown sold rights to mines for 1/10 the silver. These silver deposits encouraged new technologies to extract the silver, such as the use of mercury.
Silver allowed minting of coins in Spanish America, creating a monetary economy. The monetary economy may have assisted in assimilating the Indian population and also made the colonies easier to integrate into the European economy.

The Crown had outlawed the slavery of Indians, but the mita system -- in which 1/7 of the adult Indians males had to work, for wages, at a mine for one year -- were put in use, as was wage labor. This system of forced and voluntary labor tended to work well. As Indian population declined, African slave labor was used, often as overseers. Spain had a legal code on the rights of slaves, so this system was better on the slaves than the British system.

The Spanish Crown tightly regulated (or attempted to tightly regulate) trade to Spanish America early, from the House of Trade in Seville. This early regulation may have been caused in part by the finding of silver and gold, necessitating tighter control.

The British were more willing to adapt their diet to the foods in North America, especially maize.
The lack of silver left a small money supply in the colonies, resulting in greater use of the barter system.
Sugar and tobacco become early case crops.
Regarding labor, the British were prevented from using Indians due to their smaller numbers and the colonists distrust of the natives. The tended to have a supply of indentured whites, and shortly later used African slaves in the tobacco fields and sugar plantations of Barbados. The absence of British laws on slavery made the conditions of the slaves unregulated and therefore harder on them.

Initially there was little government regulation of trade, as there was insufficient colonial produce to complement the home economy and stimulate trade.

In 1655 Cromwell's Western Design, (an attempt to seize Hispaniola which actually resulted in the conquest of Jamaica) reflects ". . . a larger national design, in which the state sought to realize the nation's potential, and that of its overseas settlements, in order to maximize power in its great international struggle against England's rivals -- the Spanish, the French, and the Dutch.(p113)"

The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century, ed. P. J. Marshall (Chap. 10) by Greene, Jack
Greene asks “how the development of a vast transoceanic empire . . . affected the collective identity of the British people”(208). The traditional boast of the English was that they “had retained their identity as a free people by safeguarding their liberty through their laws”(209). The ‘early-seventeenth-century legal writers were anxious to erect legal and constitutional restraints against arbitrary extensions of royal power”(209). It was assumed that laws of England favored the liberty of the people; this became “the very essence of their national identity”(210). Fortescue attributed British advances in its constitution to its fertile soil, which led to higher crop yields, which led to social independence, intellectual inquiry, and ultimately to “the law-mindedness necessary to sustain a free government”(211). This independence further encouraged English men to acquire property, which led to colonization (212). Protestantism became associated with the English identity and was endorsed by some, like Ralegh, as justification for war with Spain; “the English overseas Empire, from the beginning, defined itself in opposition to the Catholic empire of Spain”(213). Later “colonials endorsed the metropolitan view of the conflict with France as a struggle between Protestantism and Catholicism” and linked British imperial successes to God’s favor (215). “Pride in the relative abundance of British economic achievements rested even more firmly on commerce”(215). By the late 16th C., “Richard Hakluyt praised England as an ‘aggressive commercial entity’ ….”215). Commerce (Cult of Commerce) became part of British identity. “Contemporary social theory . . . saw commerce as the highest stage of social development. Those who celebrated Britain’s expanding commercial activity argued that commerce was principally responsible for effecting a revolution in the ‘manners, customs, and habits’ of the British people”(217).

The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century, ed. P. J. Marshall (Chap. 2) by Horn, James
Horn takes a quantitative approach to British emigration. He shows that regarding British expansion in Africa and Asia, “commercial ascendancy, not territorial expansion, was the imperative of trading companies” (p29) till at least the mid/late eighteenth century. Horn sees a growing distinction between colonies and trading posts starting in the early eighteenth century. Trading posts were usually company run, in Africa and Asia, while North America became the destination of the majority of British emigrants. The search for fresh commercial outlets was a driving force of the mobility of the civilian and military personnel of the trading companies. “Compared to the New World, immigration to Africa and Asia was small-scale “(p34). “During the seventeenth century, two significant features characterized emigration from the British Isles” (p30). First, 70% of the emigrants were English and went to English plantations in Ireland or America. Second, emigrants to America was a massive transfer of labor, essential for growing tobacco in Chesapeake Bay area or sugar in the West Indies. Most British immigrants at this time ended up as field-hands or small planters. During eighteenth century, there is a sharp decline in English migration to North America in contrast to the rise of Scottish and Irish migration. After the war, (by 1783) immigration rose sharply, especially North Irish migration to both America and Canada. During the Napoleonic Wars, the British discouraged emigration since the labor was needed at home and in the army and navy. “All the major series of emigration records exhibit troughs during war years, followed by peaks in the immediate aftermath.” (p33) Horn sees the military as both a “competitor with the colonies for manpower and a vital stimulus of emigration. In periods of war the supply of prime indentured servants dwindled, but in the aftermath tens of thousands of ex-servicemen were thrown on to a saturated labour market and the servant trade quickly revived” (p33). “Indentured servants (including convicts) continued to make up the majority of emigrants from the British Isles to American until the Revolution” (p35). The migration was not a mass exodus of unskilled urban labor, but from a strata of the lower-middle and working classes, artisans, and craftsmen with employable skills. This suggests that the masses were not seeking a “desperate escape” as much as an opportunity for improvement. “Rather than the desperate rural poor, it was the lower-middling and middle classes – small farmers and artisans hit hard by crop failures, famine prices, and industrial disruption, together with Nonconformist ministers seeking liberty of conscience and better livings – who emigrated”(p39). Nonconformists (Quakers and Baptists) were a group known to migrate, especially to Pennsylvania, due to religious reasons. After 1763, with increased trade and expansion of territory, growing numbers of young men from the upper and middle classes moved to the colonies and worked in trade, business, or positions in the military or provincial governments. Rent increases and unstable job security due quick variations in the textile industry were a drive in migration, especially from parts of Scotland. Scottish merchants especially prominent in Chesapeake tobacco trade, and “virtually the entire colonial medical profession was Scottish-trained” (p41). Large-scale sheep farming in southern Scotland resulted in many small farmers (presumably tenant farmers) being displaced and unable to buy their own land in Scotland. The ‘Black Winter’ of 1771-72 led to cattle plagues, crop failures, and food shortages, which further spurred migration from Scotland. Irish migration, at least from Ulster, had three distinct trends: migration of Protestant Dissenters (Presbyterians and Quakers), a long-established trade in indentured servants, and the temporary migration of laborers and sailors to Newfoundland fisheries. Irish landlords continued attempts to improve the profitability of their lands resulted in increased rents, periodic famines, and increasing costs of food, led to Irish Protestant migration. Post-1760, an increasing number of skilled and independent migrants show that some of the people were making a choice against Ireland’s improving economic conditions. “As commerce flourished and channels of communication were strengthened, so the cost of passage fell and the colonies became increasingly attractive and accessible”(p49).

by Klooster, Wim
-A comparative history of four revolutions: (1) American, (2) French, (3) Haitian, and (4) Spanish American Revolution(s) (grouped together). Klooster sees all of these revolutions as professing "hostility to privilege and began to question black slavery.(p1)" Sees American and French Revs. as forming part of a series of upheavals that spread democracy in Western world.

Four aspects in common:

1. These revolutions cannot be understood outside the realm of international politics.
2. None of the revolutions was foreordained.
3. These was often had undertones of civil wars.
4. "democracy is no appropriate prism through which to see these uprisings.

-Urban pursuits played a lead role in economic change.
-In Europe, two classes (lords and clergy) did not bleed the third (peasants) but rather urban middling groups purchased a lot of land in the early modern period to gain social status. This shifted the traditional dynamic.
-As monarchical power expanded in the sixteenth century, it did so by strengthening local representative bodies. Metropolitan authorities achieved their policies by negotiating with colonial elites. "Consent rather than coercion was the preferred instrument of empire. (5)"
-By mid/late seventeenth century, reform dominated European domestic politics

The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century, ed. P. J. Marshall (Chap. 7) by Lenman, Bruce
Lenman sees British use of force overseas as being instrumental in the development of the British Empire. The Unintended Consequences of the Glorious Revolution Charles II and James II had been interested in English colonial expansion, while William III focused more on England and continental Europe while neglecting colonies. King William’s War (aka The War of the League of Augsburg) created a situation where New York and New England colonies had to fend for themselves against French and Indian raids, essentially teaching these colonies independence. The Rising Importance of Colonial Theatres of War During the War of the Spanish Succession (Queen Anne’s War), placed an emphasis on overseas Empires. British never crushed French privateers in the Caribbean. French retained Louisiana and decide to connect it with Canada, thus blocking the Anglo-Americans east of the Alleghenies. This forced British to resist. Britain wins and gains colonial territories. An Imperial War and its Frustratoins War of Jenkin’s Ear was the first was fought over colonial issues. Ties into the War of the Austrian Succession. War overseas left largely to colonial troops. British and French East India companies hoped to maintain neutrality, but as this favored the French (with weaker naval forces) the British broke off negotiations. By end of war, France weaker in India, France could not bring trade goods to Canada for Native American support, and French trade was hurt, weakening French finances. The Seven Years War First truly Imperial war for Britain (159). British had more trade goods for Native Americans. French instead try to assert their authority over the Ohio valley. War wrecked Newcastle’s hopes for reduced government expenditures. France joins a European coalition to attack Prussia, Britain’s alley. British troops succeed in taking Nova Scotia, but French win most wilderness skirmishes, including Fort William Henry. Defeat here unified Anglo-Americans. “The Seven Years War ended with spectacular British gains in India and a total British triumph in North America” (163). Over-Extension, Failure, and Recovery After Seven Years War, British wanted to maintain troops in North America, at colonialists expense, but without French threat the colonists did not want to pay for the expense. “British military presence was . . . evidence that long-established colonial autonomies were under threat. . . . “(163). During the Napoleonic Wars, Britain destroyed not only French navy, but Spanish and Dutch as well, ensuring its supremacy. Fear of French radicalism aided in the creation of British nationalism. After 1815, Britain’s supremacy was assured

The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain, Volume I: Industrialization, 1700-1860, ed. Roderick Floud and Paul Johnson (Chap 1) by Mokyr, Joel
There was little, if any, real capital growth in Britain before 1830 (1). Views Industrial Revolution not as a period of rapid economic growth, but as a period that laid the foundation for future growth (14). Use of coal as fuel for industry and improvements to agriculture did lead to higher income per capita (15). Big difference of East and West was not the emergence of the Industrial Revolution, but the sustained development of new technologies (15). Changes in technology were driven by changes in knowledge (18); more appropriately to new “useful” knowledge which Mokyr terms Industrial Enlightenment (19). The Royal Institute was found in London in 1799 to disseminate useful knowledge (22). Incentives such as royal pensions and patent royalties encouraged inventor; these could be viewed as a strong support of property rights(27).

The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Feb., 1988) by O’Brien, Patrick
A quantitative study arguing that British ability to levy taxes was the key to Britain’s ability to borrow great sums of money in times of war, and thus aid in building the empire. The borrowing removed the need for frequent, sharp, increases in taxation, which made this system politically acceptable, relative to heavy taxes. The early land tax was acceptable to the land owners because it gave them more control over government. Taxes could often be avoided, especially since the land tax lacked an organized and uniform system of collection throughout the nation(s). O’Brien states that economic growth in Britain was slower than usually thought, and if Britain had to rely on the taxation of this growth to fund its wars (especially with France) it would have lost (6). “… economic growth was not the major factor behind the marked rise in tax revenue from 1660 to 1815 (6).” The British states ability to get additional tax revenues is based less on economic growth and more on “successful political and administrative management of a widening but slowly expanding tax base (7).” Economic growth did occur and aided in increasing government revenue, but only in “modest proportions (7).” However “flexible administration, complemented by an expedient tolerance of evasion, and a prudent selection of the commodities and social groups ‘picked upon’ to bear the mounting exactions of the state are what made rising taxation tolerable and politically manageable from 1660 to 1815 (7).” O’Brien argues that has excise taxes replace land taxes as the dominant form of government revenue, the working classes shoulder a greater proportion of the costs of the wars and receive less of the benefits of victory (16). At the same time, Parliament’s rhetoric was to keep most excises taxes small so as not to over burden the poor. Excise on whiskey and gin (basically, sin taxes) were palatable to Parliament as a means of discouraging vice. However, as import duties were hard to collect and land taxes became inadequate, excise taxes became the preferred source of revenue. Items such as beer, salt, leather were chosen because of their ubiquity and lack of substitute commodities. Pitt the Younger eventually introduced an income tax, but only when French invasion was imminent, and they were repealed quickly.

The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century, ed. P. J. Marshall (Chap. 3) by O’Brien, Patrick
O’Brien views the period between the Glorious Revolution (1688) and Waterloo (1815) as a period of growth of both the British economy and a British Empire built upon transcontinental trade. In this work he focuses upon British domestic resources as the key to British success, specifically: natural endowments (of the land and ecology), early industrialization of the work force, and early and steady accumulation of mercantile and financial skills necessary to manage global commerce, and a strong and consistent support from an effective fiscal state (p74). O’Brien states that “underlying the growing involvement in global trade. . . were structural preconditions within th home economy that encouraged private enterprise to venture overseas” (p55). Natural Endowments: (Agriculture, Land, and Coal) “After the Restoration, property rights to land and to sub-soil minerals became more secure and more concentrated in private hands” (57). Superior agricultural practices released labor from the farming sector to the industrial sector. Surplus funds from rents and farming profits financed construction of towns, transportation networks, and port facilities. Taxes from agriculture paid for protection of trade and Empire. Industrialization of Workforce “By the seventeenth century, the industrialization and urbanization of the workforce had proceeded further than elsewhere on the continent with the exception of the Netherlands” (56). England’s “proto-industrialization” became with a process of occupational, regional, and local specialization. Created a steady accumulation of skills capable of manufacturing items for export market. Proto-industrialization led to higher levels of specialization and geographic concentrations of manufacturing activities (which had further benefits). Mechanization and the reorganization of industry happened in the late 18th century and therefore probably had little or no effect on the creation of the Empire, which had progressed before then. Merchants and Commercial Credit Although landowners not hostile to a maritime Empire, it was the merchants who had the capital and credit necessary to invest in global trade ventures. London merchants, shippers, warehousemen, and financiers ran much of Britain’s transcontinental trade. Merchants often accepted Dutch, Huguenots, Jews, and Germans into their midst resulting in a reinvigorated population of merchants. The Bank of England was incorporated in 1694 and assumed responsibility for managing the government’s debt, “particularly the arrangements to cover any short-term borrowing required to meet day-to-day expenditures in anticipation of revenues from taxation or from long-term loans” (62). The financial revolution (1694-1713) is used to describe the new methods of the bank acting as a lender of last resort and a discounter for bills in case of emergency – thus raising public confidence in the system of paper credit. As a result “during most wars the security and ease of access afforded to movements of funds into and out of London attracted capital from Europe, particularly the Netherlands, into the assets of the government and supported both British and European commerce with the Americas, Africa, and Asia” (63). The Emergence of a Successful Fiscal State The Stuarts spent roughly 3%-4% of England’s national income as taxes, mostly spent on military. The Hanovers commanded taxes equal to 9% of England and Scotland’s national incomes. The Rise of National Debt Between 1693 and 1713 ministers experimented with methods for borrowing : tontines, annuities for lives, loans linked to lotteries. Also made a system where holders of government short-term bills could trade them for assignable rights to payments of interest secured by tax revenues for generations to come (65). Long-term loans allowed Crown to raise funds quickly without consulting Parliament. Taxation “Over the period 1688-1815, the proportions of tax revenue allocated to service government debt increased from less than 5 per cent before the Glorious Revolution, reached 56 per cent just after the War of American Independence. . . .”(67). Most indirect taxes fell upon expenditures that ministers could present as luxuries. Economic development continued despite taxation, often because expanding sectors such as cotton, linens, woolens, and metals resisted the imposition of excise duties. Aristocratic, Mercantile, and Popular Cultures of Compliance with Taxation and Support for Imperialism The British population exhibited “widely diffused approval across social ranks for the state’s foreign and commercial strategy” (70). Population was surprisingly willing to pay more for a strong navy (particularly) and army to both protect against invasion and protect overseas trade.

The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century, ed. P. J. Marshall (Chap. 8) by Rodgers, N.A.M.
“The first and chiefest duty of the Royal Navy was always the defense of Britain against invasion, followed by the protection of trade, with colonies a poor third in the order of priority”(181). “… it was possible for the same fleets to cover operations all over the world while remaining concentrated in European waters”(181). “…from command of these waters, the command of the world derived”(182). British were initially (1650s) motivated to build a large naval force for defense, to guard against invasion. As such, the bulk of the fleet was kept in home waters, especially at times of crises. By contrast, the French could devote their naval strength to the offensive. Later British historians stressed that the navy also protected trade, and “trade and Imperial defense long continued to be the principal justification argued for the size and structure of the Royal Navy . . . “(170). “Only with the rise of the continental military powers in the late nineteenth century, it is argues, did the unified industrial empires of the railway age outclass the dispersed economic structures of the older maritime imperial system”(171). -- i.e. Rodgers sees at least two distinct systems of Empire, the maritime imperial system of Britain and the industrial empires of the railway age – i.e. empire is concerned with both an economic system and a transportation system. “The finance of government. . . was closely connected with the profitable foreign trades which generated so much liquid capital, and made possible the debt finance essential to modern war” (172). However, the British did not associate naval implications with foreign policy – partly because (1) no real naval staff, (2) Admiralty too small and comprised mostly of clerks, (3) no forum (educational or institutional) to professionalize the navy. “The most important development of the eighteenth century in strategic thinking . . . was the establishment in the 1740s of the Western Squadron”(174). W.S. stationed a little to windward of the western approaches to the English Channel. “The principle of a Western Squadron in one form or another formed the core of Britain’s naval strategy for a century and more”(175). Rodger sees two things of note in W.S.: (1) thinking largely in terms of home waters, (2) no mention of blockade. W.S. acted as a reserve from which ships could be sent to colonies. Also made it difficult for French and Spanish to dispatch ships to colonies. This allowed distant British forces the ability to attempt operations in distant waters without fear of enemy fleets intervening. Thus, I n1762, British were able to capture Manila with a small force, since British forces in W.S. guaranteed Spanish could not be reinforced (177-178). “In all the wars of the eighteenth century except one, it was superiority in European waters which made possible successful operations overseas, and the bulk of the navy was held at home”(179). British forces in West Indies had a few problems. Small in number, could not counter a real French or Spanish force if it encountered one. Most of W.I. squadron stationed in Jamaica, too far leeward to get to other British colonies quickly. Another naval yard fixed at leeward side of Leeward Islands, hard to come out of in a hurry (178).

Capitalism & Slavery by Williams, Eric
Williams presents an argument that mercantilism is linked to slavery and protected trade and found supporters amongst the plantation owners of the West Indies. In the 17th and early-mid 18th Centuries, these planters produced huge profits, mostly from sugar production, which enabled them to obtain (and/or allowed them to support) protective trade, most notably the Navigation Acts. The result of the profits from the early sugar trade made many rich men in England and they were looked to as a source of money which could be invested into other fields, therefore as an engine of British commercialism. By the mid/late 18th C., the soil in the sugar islands had become depleted, making the growing of sugar more labor intensive and therefore raising the cost of sugar (up to 5X more) when compared to other sources, most notably the newer French colonies which still possessed fertile soil. At about the same time these colonies were becoming less profitable, or operating at a loss, the profits that had been previously invested into other avenues, especially industry, were producing growth. The upcoming industrial capitalists wanted access to cheaper sources of raw materials, including sugar, and so tended to attack the mercantilist system in favor of capitalism. This ultimately weakened the plantation owner’s political power. At around the same time, abolitionist sentiments were growing publicly and were taken up by some of the industrial capitalists (especially iron, wool, and even cotton). The abolitionists investigated and attacked many of the arguments of the plantation owners for their monopolies, such as the argument that they increased the number of sailors which could then be used by the R.N., only to find out these points were often untrue. The abolitionists began an attack against the slave trade, since it seemed easier to obtain and they thought would lead to the eventual end of slavery. By 1833 the slavery in the empire is legally abolished. (Get date and act for end of slave trade) In his conclusion, Williams points out that “the decisive forces in the period of history we have discussed are the developing economic forces(210).” i.e. mercantilism and later industrial capitalism. “Economic change, the decline of the monopolies, the development of capitalism, the humanitarian agitation in British churches, contending perorations in the halls of Parliament, had now reached their completion in the determination of the slaves themselves to be free. (208)” This places the final success for abolition upon the collective social power of the slaves themselves, supported in a fertile field of the other factors. This is William’s weakest argument, as he does not supply enough evidence to persuade that the slave revolts of the early nineteenth century were responsible for the abolition of slavery. Book is easily readable and well researched.