Source 13: An economic defence

This is an article from a London newspaper called 'The Diary' or 'Woodfall's Register' which was published on Thursday 16th April, 1789.

In the late 1780s, there was a fiery debate in newspapers and magazines on the question of slavery. The West Indies Lobby monitored abolitionist activities in newspapers and magazines and employed writers of their own to respond by circulating pro-slavery letters and articles in the same newspapers. This article attempts to persuade its readers of the economic benefits of slavery in the West Indies.

Much of the British economy was reliant on the slave trade - both directly and indirectly. Raw produce such as sugar, tobacco, tea, coffee and cotton all came from slave plantations. These foods were widely consumed in British households, served in British shops, coffee and tea houses. Slave grown cotton was made into fabric in British factories and worn by the public. Many people's jobs in ports such as Bristol and Liverpool were reliant on the business created by the slave traders. The economic prosperity created by the trade allowed great country estates and elegant municipal buildings to be built.

Many pro-slavery campaigners played on paranoia about empire and indicated that the prosperity of the British Navy, the merchant navy and the Caribbean itself all depended on slavery. Destroy this slavery, they argued, and the British Empire would collapse.

Taken from: The Diary or Woodfall's Register
Author / Creator: none
Publisher: none
Date: April 16 1789
Copyright: By permission of the British Library
Shelfmark: 1880.b.42.(3)