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Liverpool's Slave Trade As A Centre Of A Global Commerce And An Important Factor In British Economic Growth

2162 words - 9 pages

Liverpool's Slave Trade as a Centre of a Global Commerce and an Important Factor in British Economic Growth
This essay will attempt to answer the question by approaching it in
three stages. Firstly it will assess the importance of Britain's slave
trade in the context of global commerce, especially during the 18th
century. Secondly it will attempt to show the degree of significance -
and the reason - for Liverpool's involvement as a British port, and
thirdly, to find out whether or not this had a bearing on Britain's
economy in general. In other words, the essay will attempt to
ascertain whether Britain's slave trade "was the centre of a global
commerce", and whether Liverpool was, in turn, the central city for
that particular trade.

From around 1600, Britain had colonised or conquered a network of
territories all over the world including parts of the Americas -
According to Professor Kenneth Morgan, "By 1797-8, North America and
the West Indies received 57 per cent of British exports, and supplied
32 per cent of imports"[1]. The 18th century saw Britain rise to an
undisputed dominant position among her rival European powers. Trade
with these overseas colonies was a driving force behind the Industrial
Revolution, especially throughout the 19th Century, in providing
sources of raw materials and markets for finished goods. The slave
trade played a huge part: "By the end of the 18th century, Britain had
become the largest and most accomplished slaving nation in the world"[2].
If it can be shown that the city of Liverpool was central to this
trade, and Britain's economy benefited from it, then the above
statement will carry some validity.

The 18th Century saw Liverpool's rise to the position of what was
sometimes referred to as "Britain's second city", and dominance over
the British slave trade. The figures bear this out - in 1730, London
and Bristol held the monopoly on the Atlantic trade, with only 15
slave ships leaving Liverpool in that year; in 1771 this figure had
risen to 107, compared with 58 ships from London.[3] Between 1750 and
1780, Liverpool merchants financed around 75% of British slave
voyages.[4] A contemporary visitor's account put it like this:
"Liverpool being the port for shipping of the manufacturies of
Manchester, Warrington and other manufacturing towns in the
neighbourhood, being concerned largely in the West Indian trade, in
the Greenland fisheries and more largely in the infamous African trade
than any other place in England occasion a great forest of shipping to
be continually in port"[5] At this time (by the 3rd quarter of the 18th
Century), no less than a third of this "forest" would have been slave

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