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Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition
     

Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition

by Seymour Drescher
 

In this classic analysis and refutation of Eric Williams's 1944 thesis, Seymour Drescher argues that Britain's abolition of the slave trade in 1807 resulted not from the diminishing value of slavery for Great Britain but instead from the British public's mobilization against the slave trade, which forced London to commit what Drescher terms "econocide." This action

Overview

In this classic analysis and refutation of Eric Williams's 1944 thesis, Seymour Drescher argues that Britain's abolition of the slave trade in 1807 resulted not from the diminishing value of slavery for Great Britain but instead from the British public's mobilization against the slave trade, which forced London to commit what Drescher terms "econocide." This action, he argues, was detrimental to Britain's economic interests at a time when British slavery was actually at the height of its potential.

Originally published in 1977, Drescher's work was instrumental in undermining the economic determinist interpretation of abolitionism that had dominated historical discourse for decades following World War II. For this second edition, which includes a foreword by David Brion Davis, Drescher has written a new preface, reflecting on the historiography of the British slave trade since this book's original publication.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
[Drescher] showed how abolitionism was an important part of popular culture in Britain at that time, commanding support from people who had no economic interest in the matter one way or the other.—Stephen Davies, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty

In [Dreshcer's] analysis old assumptions fall like ninepins.—Betty Fladeland, American Historical Review

The most direct and enduring challenge to the 'Williams Thesis' runs through the influential publications of Seymour Drescher.—Matt D. Childs, H-Net Reviews

[A] powerful critique.—Journal of NC Association of Historians

A model of clarity and economy, Drescher's tightly argued and persuasive book is a frontal assault upon the decline theory of abolitionism.—Jack P. Greene, Agricultural History

Seymour Drescher has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a specialist of European colonial slavery, the slave trade and abolitionism, and especially of the role played by Great Britain in these processes.—Lawrence C. Jennings, Journal of Modern History

Praise for the First Edition

"As thoroughgoing and elegant a piece of revisionism in the best sense as has appeared anywhere in the discipline in recent years.—David Eltis, Business History Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822933441
Publisher:
University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date:
06/01/1977
Pages:
296

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Based on extensive statistical evidence and a careful reading of the contemporary debates, Drescher's book has led to a significant shift in scholarly opinion regarding the reasons behind the end of the British slave trade and has moved the debate to a more sophisticated level, an ongoing debate that he examines in a new preface to this volume.—Stanley Engerman, John Munro Professor of Economics and Professor of History, University of Rochester

A timely reissue of one of the paradigm-shifting texts in the capitalism and slavery debates. The new foreword and preface alone are worth the price of admission.—David Eltis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History, Emory University

Meet the Author

Seymour Drescher is Distinguished University Professor of history and sociology at the University of Pittsburgh.

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