The Economic System of Slavery: As Told in A Respectable Trade and Amistad

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The Economic System of Slavery: As Told in A Respectable Trade and Amistad

The economic system of slavery is an all-encompassing system that effects the mentalities of all who participate in the system. People in a slave society are shaped differently than people influenced by other economic systems, as this system classifies people as property, inherently going against all aspects of human nature. We see how slavery has come to shape individuals, and indeed, entire societies both in Amistad and A Respectable Trade. In these films arise the themes of economic value of different systems of slavery as well as themes of the morality of the slave trade and the devaluation of human dignity and liberty. While the two films portray
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In the film A Respectable Trade, we see that the slaves are not regarded as people, but as commodities. Once the slaves are forced upon Jesiah's prized ship, they are his property, and thus, he and his "henchmen" have license to treat them as they please. While in Amistad the slaves could be more easily defined as resources due to the type of labor they were captured to perform, the slaves as resources is a more difficult definition to make in the film A Respectable Trade. The repoduction done by slaves in the domestic sphere is not as closely linked to the means of acquiring wealth as it would be in a plantaion setting. On a plantation, the wealth acquired by the master is inextricably linked to the work done by the slaves in the field. Without their forced labor, the master would not show a profit, as he would have no product to sell to the public. The domestic work done by the slaves in A Respectable Trade is hardly how Jesiah's wealth is to be acquired. In that film, Jesiah hopes to make a little more money by training the slaves for sale, educating them so that they can be sold to other prominent or affluent members of the merchant Bristol society.

Viewing the slaves as property is the mental state that allows Frances to operate under a "foreign" economic system. As mentioned earlier,

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