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The Slave(ry) Trade and the Development of Capitalism in the United States: The Textile Industry in New England

  • Ronald Bailey

The significance of the slave trade and slavery-related commerce—what I will call the slave(ry) trade—in contributing to the development of colonial America and the United States has been a persistent theme in the work of Afro-American scholars. Two scholars in particular should be cited in this regard. W. E. B. DuBois (1896: 27) pointed out that slave labor was not widely utilized because the climate and geography of New England precluded the extensive development of agriculture: “The significance of New England in the African slave-trade does not therefore lie in the fact that she early discountenanced the system of slavery and stopped importation; but rather in the fact that her citizens, being the traders of the New World, early took part in the carrying slave trade and furnished slaves to the other colonies.” DuBois’s account of the role of Massachusetts and of Rhode Island, which later became “the clearing house for the slave trade of other colonies,” was similar to what was popularized as the “triangular trade” thesis.

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