West African Slave Trade Case Study

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Bristol became the largest English slave-trading port in the early for a short space of time following the removal of the monopoly of the Royal African Company in 1698 and subsequent gains which aided in growth of this portside city. A variety of factors aided growth including location of Bristol in relation to the Atlantic world, its economic connection with the many merchants trading with major slaving trading nations like Portugal and sending manufactured goods to parts of west Africa as well as having multiple connections with Virginia already put Bristol in a successful position to engage in the slave trade in this period. Bristol was a place known for the copper smelter, glass making and a sugar refinery which relied heavily on the triangular …show more content…
The demand for these kinds of goods required larger labour force to harvest them which put pressure on labour forces forcing the Atlantic world to rely on slave labour. The Bristol merchants were tactful in their approach to the slave trade. Based on their ties to particular regions, they were able to exploit “opportunities for marketing slaves in colonies such as Virginia and St Kitts and concentrated successfully supplying slaves to...Jamaica.” Because the Bristolian merchants were intelligent and played on their connections with specific regions of the Atlantic to maintain secure ties with, they were able to reap the benefits on both a personal and wider economic level to the city. Virginia sent back tobacco and wood for slaving ships in return for the Bristol slaving voyage and in the case of the islands of St Kitts and Jamaica for sugar. By the mid 1670s, one third to half of the trade was dependent on American and the West Indies markets. which illustrates the continuous connection between the areas of the Atlantic world and would place Bristol in a strong position in order to become involved with the slave trade. Madge Dresser described Bristol as being of “crucial economic importance” because “it supported a wider network of trade that was dependent on the labour of enslaved …show more content…
In order to obtain luxury goods like they would have to be from Africa like ivory so connections were key to the slave trade .
Some historians have found that Bristol was illegally involved with slave trading much earlier than 1698. On an individual level, private traders or interlopers began to appear as a way to skirt the unpopular Royal African Company Monopoly which prohibited other cities expect London to partake in the trading of slaves and some other luxury goods. Although the unpopular monopoly was removed twenty years later, interlopers provide evidence for the high amounts of interest in the slave trade and already established connections between traders and sellers as a reason for probable success in the trade.
From as early as the 1670s, it has been suggested there was slave trading organised by Bristolians because they were not able to trade unless from London were not able to legally trade in gold, spices, ivory, dyewood and slaves. As retaliation to this, the merchants from the Society of Merchant Ventures from Bristol who managed overseas trade tried to convince the government to remove this monopoly and provide other port cities like Bristol and Liverpool to stake their claim on the slave trade.” They were ultimately successful in this venture which drastically changed Bristol as a trading hub into a booming trading

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