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Look Inside The Price of Emancipation

The Price of Emancipation
Slave-Ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery

$36.99 (C)

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Economic History - Second Series

  • Date Published: July 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107696563

$ 36.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • When colonial slavery was abolished in 1833 the British government paid £20 million to slave-owners as compensation: the enslaved received nothing. Drawing on the records of the Commissioners of Slave Compensation, which represent a complete census of slave-ownership, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of the extent and importance of absentee slave-ownership and its impact on British society. Moving away from the historiographical tradition of isolated case studies, it reveals the extent of slave-ownership among metropolitan elites, and identifies concentrations of both rentier and mercantile slave-holders, tracing their influence in local and national politics, in business and in institutions such as the Church. In analysing this permeation of British society by slave-owners and their success in securing compensation from the state, the book challenges conventional narratives of abolitionist Britain and provides a fresh perspective of British society and politics on the eve of the Victorian era.

    • A major contribution to our understanding of the role of slavery in British political, economic, social and cultural life
    • Synthesises enormous volumes of original archival research on slave ownership, giving readers access for the first time to a unique census of British slave ownership
    • Will appeal to a range of scholars of modern British history, imperial history, the history of slavery and economic history
    Read more


    • Winner of the 2009 Royal Historical Society Whitfield Prize

    Reviews & endorsements

    "… well-researched and argued book, and a major contribution to the study of British history and West Indian slavery in the first half of the nineteenth century."
    Stanley Engerman, Journal of Economic History

    "… well-researched and insightful book …"
    Christopher Clark, American Historical Review

    "… Draper's book is a vital reminder not only of the importance of slavery to British social history through the 1830's but also of the impact of slave emancipation as a force for political innovation and reform in British society during the age of abolition."
    David Richardson, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

    "Draper’s book is insightful, engaging, and finely nuanced."
    Kevin Grant, Journal of Modern History

    "Nicholas Draper's award-winning book is well researched, heavily annotated, and handsomely illustrated."
    John David Smith, Canadian Journal of History

    "Draper has written an outstandingly good and important work."

    "… a valuable contribution to emancipation studies, and most appropriate for upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level courses."
    Scott Hancock, The New West Indian Guide

    See more reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107696563
    • length: 416 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The absentee slave-owner: representations and identities
    2. The debate over compensation
    3. The distribution of slave compensation
    4. The structure of slave ownership
    5. The large-scale rentier owners
    6. 'Widows and orphans': small-scale British slave-owners
    7. Merchants, bankers and agents in the compensation process
    8. Conclusion

  • Author

    Nicholas Draper, University College London
    Nicholas Draper is Research Associate at the Department of History, University College London.


    • Winner of the 2009 Royal Historical Society Whitfield Prize

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