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Atlantic History The Atlantic Slave Trade
by
David Northrup

Introduction

The slave trade was one of the earliest and the most capital-intensive forms of Atlantic interaction. The largest intercontinental migration in history before the mid-1800s, this forced transportation of enslaved Africans repopulated the Americas and greatly affected cultural and racial mixes there. Europeans had acquired some slaves during the first two centuries of direct contacts with sub-Saharan Africa, but only with the growth of West Indian plantation colonies in the mid-1600s did slaves become the predominant African export. In all periods Africans received vast quantities of European, American, and Asian goods in return. The growing transportation of trade goods, of millions of Africans, and of plantation products gradually tied the Atlantic continents together. The earliest studies of the Atlantic slave trade were by British abolitionists, who emphasized the cruelties of the Middle Passage across the Atlantic as a way of rallying support for ending the trade. While this approach to the subject is still common, modern scholarship has opened up several new areas of study: the slave trade as a business, the participation of African merchants in this business, and the social and cultural consequences of so large an African migration to the Americas. All aspects of studying the slave trade have benefited from efforts to measure the flow of slaves across the Atlantic with greater precision.

General Overviews

Recent scholarship reflects in varying degrees the different conceptions of the slave trade: as a moral outrage, as a successful capitalist enterprise, as part of European imperialism, as a major link in the creation of an Atlantic world, and as the father of New World racism. The complexity of the subject and the influence of so many ethical issues make balanced and objective treatment difficult. Large surveys also differ in their attention to the trade’s different aspects. The introductory works of Rawley 2005 and Thomas 1997 emphasize the role of Europeans in the creation of this transatlantic system. At the forefront of new efforts to compile and use statistics to understand the shape of the Atlantic connections, Eltis 2000 also pays much greater attention to the roles of African rulers and merchants in making the trade possible. Works from historians of Africa such as Lovejoy 2000, Lovejoy 2004, and Manning 1990 situate the Atlantic slave trade in the broader context of internal slave trades in sub-Saharan Africa and to the Islamic world. Davis 1984 also connects the Atlantic slave trade to the cultural and commercial context of slavery and racism in the Islamic world but has little to say of its African context. Focused on a single French voyage, Harms 2002 manages to capture in great detail the complex dimensions of the trade.

  • Davis, David Brion. Slavery and Human Progress. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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    A book of sweeping scholarship and insight that ties Atlantic slave systems to Muslim origins in the Mediterranean, analyzes racial attitudes about slaves in a broad comparative context, and explores the connections of New World slavery and its abolition to changing ideas of progress.

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  • Eltis, David. The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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    An authoritative and stimulating discussion of the origins of the slave trade down to the early 1700s, with exceptional coverage of the African engagement. Though an economic and demographic historian, Eltis argues against a purely economic explanation for the trade in African slaves. The British experience is privileged.

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  • Harms, Robert. The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

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    Building on the surviving records of a French slave ship voyage in 1731–1732, Harms provides a compelling account of the complex range of involvement, including the assembly of trade goods and capital, the ship and crew, bargaining for slaves at the African port of Whydah, the slaves’ experiences of the Middle Passage, and their subsequent sale in the French West Indian colony of Martinique.

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  • Lovejoy, Paul. Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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    This sophisticated comparative study of the Islamic and Atlantic slave trade within and from Africa reaches important, if controversial, conclusions about the legacies of these trades for Africa.

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  • Lovejoy, Paul, ed. Slavery on the Frontiers of Islam. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2004.

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    These scholarly case studies explore slavery in three different relationships: between Muslims and non-Muslims in West Africa, between black slaves and their Muslim masters in North Africa, and between black slaves and Christian masters in the Americas.

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  • Manning, Patrick. Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental, and African Slave Trades. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

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    Although it is not able to make use of the latest data on the Atlantic slave trade, this statistical model estimates the changing demographic impact of Atlantic and Islamic slave trades over several centuries on various regions of Africa as well as overall.

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  • Rawley, James A., and Stephen D. Behrendt. The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A History. Rev. ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.

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    Updated to reflect the latest statistics on the slave trade, this carefully researched volume organizes its presentation in terms of the nationalities of the slave merchants: Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, British, and American. Brazilian and African traders are neglected.

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  • Thomas, Hugh. The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440–1870. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997.

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    This eight-hundred-page account is probably the definitive study of the European aspects of the organization and conduct of the slave trade. Thomas displays impressive scholarship in a number of languages and a compelling narrative ability, although his work largely ignores newer research on African involvement and the quantitative aspects of the trade.

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Textbooks and Surveys

Because important scholars of the slave trade have been active in the production of introductory works suitable for classroom use, these texts are often more up-to-date and balanced than the larger general studies. Curtin 1990, Klein 1999, Reynolds 1993, and Walvin 2006 all provide concise and valuable introductions. Northrup 2009 highlights the changing views and debates among scholars. By adopting more limited approaches, Emmer 2006 and Thornton 1998 offer rich examinations of the slave trade and slavery in the Americas within manageable lengths. The essays in Tibbles 2006 briefly examine modern scholarship and how the slave trade affects contemporary society.

  • Curtin, Philip D. The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in Atlantic History. 2d ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

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    A brief and balanced overview by the preeminent pioneering authority in African and transatlantic history.

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  • Emmer, Pieter C. The Dutch Slave Trade, 1500–1850. Translated by Chris Emery. Oxford: Berghahn, 2006.

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    This short book covers a great deal more than its title suggests because the Dutch played many key roles in the overall Atlantic slave trade, even though their share of the carrying trade and their part in slavery in the Americas were much smaller than those of the Portuguese, British, and French. Emmer is an eminent Dutch scholar of the Atlantic.

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  • Klein, Herbert S. The Atlantic Slave Trade. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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    An authoritative and balanced overview of all aspects of the Atlantic slave trade, making good use of the new database.

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  • Northrup, David, ed. Atlantic Slave Trade. 3d ed. Boston: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2009.

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    Designed for students and other nonspecialists, this collection of excerpts from scholarly works is organized by topic to highlight historiographical debates and controversies concerning the origins of the slave trade, its operations, and its importance in the histories of the Atlantic continents.

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  • Reynolds, Edward. Stand the Storm: A History of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1993.

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    This brief yet very comprehensive account of the rise, fall, and impact of the slave trade gives careful attention to African involvement in slave trading.

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  • Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400–1800. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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    By stressing African strength and agency in the conduct of the slave trade and under slavery, Thornton’s powerful and influential book has reversed the assumption about African roles in the creation of the Atlantic world. The analysis is principally on the period to 1680, with only a single brief chapter taking the story of the African Atlantic down to 1800.

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  • Tibbles, Anthony, ed. Transatlantic Slavery: Against Human Dignity. 2d ed. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2006.

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    Originally published to accompany a new gallery in the Merseyside Maritime Museum, of which the editor is curator, this richly illustrated expanded edition includes essays by scholars on how the slave trade has shaped Atlantic history.

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  • Walvin, James. Atlas of Slavery. Harlow, UK: Pearson/Longman, 2006.

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    In this exceptionally well balanced and up-to-date brief introduction, short essays provide excellent overviews of the Atlantic slave trade, while eighty-seven carefully drawn maps illustrate its operations in Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

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Journals, Bibliographies, and Encyclopedias

No scholarly journal is devoted to the Atlantic slave trade alone, although Slavery and Abolition publishes many articles on the subject. As Miller 1999, a massive bibliography, amply illustrates, important articles on the subject are published in a large array of general history journals; journals specializing in the histories of Africa, various participating European countries, and slave-importing areas of the Americas; and journals specializing in economic and social history. Slavery and Abolition continues to publish annual bibliographies of new works on the slave trade and slavery. Finkelman and Miller 1999 includes many excellent essays by prominent scholars on aspects of the Atlantic slave trade; Rodriquez 1997 is also a good resource, though its alphabetical organization can make it harder to pursue themes.

Primary Sources

Primary sources about the slave trade are abundant, but published narrative accounts tend to be disproportionately dominated by British abolitionist works and other British records. Donnan 1930–1935, a large compilation, is still a rich source favoring North America. South America is favored by Sandoval 2008. The publication of scholarly editions of works by contemporary Africans helps to balance and personalize the record. Curtin 1967 includes the early portion of Equiano’s widely read autobiography (also available on Halsall’s website, Internet African History Sourcebook), the authenticity of which has now been questioned. Law and Lovejoy’s reissue of Baquaqua’s autobiography (Law and Lovejoy 2003) and Behrendt, et al. 2010, a reediting of Antera Duke’s diary, provide contrasting perspectives by an enslaved African and an African slave trader.

  • Behrendt, Stephen, John Latham, and David Northrup, eds. The Diary of Antera Duke: An Eighteenth-Century African Slave Trader. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    This personal diary of a prominent African merchant of the West African port of Old Calabar in the later 1780s is a unique historical source. The original English-language text of the diary is extensively annotated, along with a rendering into more standard English spelling and grammar and scholarly essays on the trade and culture of this important port.

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  • Curtin, Philip D., ed. Africa Remembered: Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967.

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    The Africans featured in this rich collection include several who were enslaved and transported to the Americas. Each document has scholarly annotations and is accompanied by a scholarly introduction.

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  • Donnan, Elizabeth, ed. Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America. 4 vols. Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution, 1930–1935.

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    The first two volumes of this rich collection contain documents about the slave trade and slavery in the Atlantic, while the last two volumes are confined to territories that came to be part of the United States.

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  • Halsall, Paul, ed. Internet African History Sourcebook.

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    This large site includes a collection of British accounts critical of the slave trade and the text of Olaudah Equiano’s 18th-century autobiography, along with links to other websites.

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  • Law, Robin, and Paul E. Lovejoy, eds. The Biography of Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua: His Passage from Slavery to Freedom in Africa and America. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2003.

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    In addition to Baquaqua’s autobiography describing his enslavement in southern Nigeria, passage to New York, and liberation, this carefully annotated volume includes court records and letters that help authenticate key details of his life.

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  • Morgan, Kenneth, ed. The British Transatlantic Slave Trade. 4 vols. London: Pickering and Chatto, 2003.

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    Facsimile reproductions of documents concerned with slave trading in Africa, the Royal African Company, abolitionists, and their opponents.

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  • Sandoval, Alonso de, S. J. Treatise on Slavery: Selections from De instauranda Aethiopum salute. Edited and translated by Nicole von Germenten. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2008.

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    This abridged translation of a 1627 work by a Jesuit missionary in Spanish America contains rich details of the early Portuguese slave trading from Africa to Spanish and Portuguese colonies, along with Sandoval’s heartfelt soul-searching about the morality of the slave trade.

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Collections

The great geographical and temporal sweep of the slave trade has produced a highly varied scholarly literature and many debates. The Black 2006, Heuman and Walvin 2003, and Manning 1996 compilations all cover a wide range of 20th-century scholarship on the Atlantic. Engerman, et al. 2001 takes an even broader approach. Although the Eltis and Morgan 2001 and Inikori and Engerman 1992 collections of original conference papers tend to reflect the diversity in topic and quality of the conference participants, they also reward the diligent reader with important insights and information. The more tightly themed collection of Solow 1991 provides comparative perspectives on the political economy of the early modern Atlantic.

  • Black, Jeremy, ed. The Atlantic Slave Trade. 4 vols. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006.

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    This valuable collection, bringing together previously published scholarly articles on the Atlantic slave trade and slavery in the Americas, is strongest on British colonies.

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  • Eltis, David, and Philip Morgan, eds. “Special Issue: New Perspectives on the Transatlantic Slave Trade.” William and Mary Quarterly 58.1 (2001).

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    Many of the contributions are concerned with the implications of getting the numbers right in the rapidly advancing recount of slave trade volumes. Two thoughtful essays examine the unusually strong objections in some quarters to the quantification of human trafficking.

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  • Engerman, Stanley, Seymour Drescher, and Robert Paquette, eds. Slavery. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    This large collection of excerpts from primary and secondary sources on the history of slavery since Antiquity focuses on the Atlantic slave trade and slavery in the Americas.

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  • Heuman, Gad, and James Walvin, eds. The Slavery Reader. London and New York: Routledge, 2003.

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    This collection reprints classic scholarly articles from 1962 through 1999 dealing with the Atlantic slave trade and slave societies.

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  • Inikori, Joseph E., and Stanley L. Engerman, eds. The Atlantic Slave Trade: Effects on Economies, Societies, and Peoples in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992.

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    The scholarly case studies in this collection cover a broad range of topics about the slave trade, slavery in Africa and the Americas, and the larger legacies of the institution around the Atlantic.

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  • Manning, Patrick, ed. Slave Trades, 1500–1800: Globalization of Forced Labour. Aldershot, UK: Variorum, 1996.

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    This collection of classic scholarly articles published between 1977 and 1993 includes treatments of African slave trades and slavery in Asia as well as the Atlantic, along with assessments of the effects of the slave trades.

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  • Solow, Barbara, ed. Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

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    A collection of important scholarly descriptions of Portuguese, Dutch, British, French, and Spanish participation in the Atlantic slave trades, with a strong emphasis on the political and economic factors in the development of an Atlantic economy.

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The Middle Passage

Since the rise of British abolitionism, most accounts of the slave trade have focused on re-creating the horrors of the transatlantic passage. The investigation and understanding of the transatlantic slave trade have been dramatically transformed by the creation of a freely accessible database of nearly 35,000 slaving voyages. Eltis and Richardson 1997 signaled the great changes in understanding the database was bringing, and Eltis and Richardson 2009 pursues the implications with greater precision and breadth. More emotive or personal accounts of the Middle Passage can be found in Saidiya 2007, Rediker 2007, and Smallwood 2007. Byrd 2008 is more restrained, without losing the immediacy of the experiences.

  • Byrd, Alexander X. Captives and Voyagers: Black Migrants across the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic World. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008.

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    Byrd traces a complex and unhappy history connecting African origins, captive passage across the Atlantic, enslavement in British colonies, and escape from slavery during the American Revolution to the founding of the settlement for former slaves in Sierra Leone, thereby completing the cycle back to Africa.

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  • Eltis, David, Stephen Behrendt, David Richardson, and Manolo Florentino. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

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    The free online collection contains a searchable database of nearly 35,000 slaving voyages (with capacity to map and estimate the size of any segment of the slave trade), a database of the names of more than 67,000 Africans aboard slave ships, and collections of illustrations and lesson plans. The most important resource available on the Atlantic slave trade. The site includes many introductory essays, maps, images, a guide to using the voyages database, and a separate database of African names.

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    • Eltis, David, and David Richardson, eds. Routes to Slavery: Direction, Ethnicity, and Mortality in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. London and Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1997.

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      Originally published in a special issue of Slavery and Abolition, the essays in this seminal collection discuss the new evidence of the size and development of the slave trade, slave and crew mortality, and the development of African cultures in the Americas.

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    • Eltis, David, and David Richardson, eds. Extending the Frontiers: Essays on the New Transatlantic Slave Trade Database. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.

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      The original scholarly essays in this collection show how the new Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database brings surprising new insights into the slave trade in Africa, the Atlantic, and the Americas.

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    • Rediker, Marcus. The Slave Ship: A Human History. New York: Viking Penguin, 2007.

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      Extensive scholarly research and skillful writing allow Rediker to evoke successfully the physical details and emotions of life on British and American slave ships.

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    • Saidiya, Hartman. Lose Your Mother: A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

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      This personal memoir by an African American historian trying to trace the route in and from Africa her ancestors would have taken evokes the poignancy and illusiveness of the past.

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    • Smallwood, Stephanie E. Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

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      This book valiantly attempts to describe the physical and psychological torments that slaves experienced during the Middle Passage. Because of the paucity of evidence, the results, though stimulating, are not always persuasive.

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    Europe and the Slaving Business

    For much of the 20th century, studies of the slave trade were strongly shaped by the moral struggle of the abolitionists. Works from pioneering historians like Davies 1970 and Stein 1979 refocused attention on the slave trade as a large and important business, following the attention to economic history advocated by Williams 1994. Coughtry 1981, Postma 1990, and the essays in Solow 1991 (cited under Collections) and Richardson, et al. 2008 display the broadening and deepening research on economic aspects of the Atlantic slave trade. Alencastro 2000 and Miller 1988 provide sophisticated and detailed examinations of the social and economic trade of the South Atlantic.

    • Alencastro, Luiz Felipe de. O trato dos viventes: Formação do Brasil no Atlântico Sul, séculos XVI e XVII. Sao Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2000.

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      An important and sophisticated study of the slave trade from Angola to Brazil in the 1500s and 1600. Those unable to read Portuguese may consult the author’s abbreviated overview, “Le versant bréselien de l’Atlantique-Sud: 1550–1850,” in Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales 61.2 (March/April 2006): 339–382, which has also been translated by Emilio Sauri as “Brazil in the South Atlantic: 1550–1850,” in Mediations 23.1 (Fall 2007): 125–174, available online.

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    • Coughtry, Jay. The Notorious Triangle: Rhode Island and the African Slave Trade, 1700–1807. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981.

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      The major study of the North American role in the slave trade, limited primarily by confining its coverage to the important posts of Rhode Island.

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    • Davies, K. G. The Royal African Company. New York: Atheneum, 1970.

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      One of the earliest and most detailed books to focus on the slave trade as a business. Using the extensive records of the largest of the English joint-stock companies, Davies describes the RAC’s operations in Africa and the Atlantic from its founding in 1672 through its period of monopoly, bankruptcy, and final dissolution in 1752.

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    • Miller, Joseph C. Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730–1830. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

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      Focused on the largest sector of the Atlantic slave trade, that from West Central Africa to Brazil, this well-written and thoroughly researched 700-page volume provides outstanding coverage of the slave trade within Africa, across the Atlantic, and in Brazilian societies.

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    • Postma, Johannes Menne. The Dutch in the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1600–1815. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

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      A masterful examination of the many aspects of the Dutch business of slaving and the role of the Dutch in Africa, Brazil, and the Atlantic, heavily based on archival research in the Netherlands.

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    • Richardson, David, Suzanne Schwarz, and Anthony Tibbles, eds. Liverpool and Transatlantic Slavery. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2008.

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      Published to coincide with the bicentenary of the British abolition of the slave trade, the essays in this volume set the important British slaving port of Liverpool in the wider context of transatlantic slavery and address scholarly issues.

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    • Stein, Robert Louis. The French Slave Trade in the Eighteenth Century: An Old Regime Business. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979.

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      A pioneering survey of the French business of slave trading, describing the operations of the city of Nantes and other slaving ports, the connections in West Africa, and the sales of slaves in the French West Indies.

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    • Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. New ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

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      Since its original publication in 1944, this seminal work has shaped the debates about the origins, importance, and abolition of the Atlantic slave trade. Its central theses about the relationships between slavery, the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and British abolitionism have been undermined by subsequent research.

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    African Coasts and Ports

    Another major trend in the writing of the history of the slave trade has come from historians of Africa, whose studies of active participation of coastal and inland Africans in the slave trade opened up an aspect of the trade long neglected. These studies revealed that slave trading was a business for some Africans and the trade’s subsequent effects on participating societies was not all destructive. Though not one of the largest sources of slaves, the region of Senegambia has received disproportionate attention in Curtin 1975, Barry 1998, and Brooks 2001. On the Slave Coast (Bight of Benin), Law 1991 and Law 2004 offer both a broad survey and a focus on its principal port, Ouidah (Whydah). The participation of the Bight of Biafra is examined broadly by Northrup 1978 and with a more particular focus by Latham 1973. For the important West Central Africa (Angola) region, see Curto 2004 as well as Alencastro 2000 and Miller 1988 (both cited under Europe and the Slaving Business.

    • Barry, Boubacar. Senegambia and the Atlantic Slave Trade. Translated by Ayi Kwei Armah. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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      This sweeping interpretation by a West African scholar of the history of the greater Senegambian region of West Africa from the 1400s to the 1800s, first published in French in 1988, argues that the overseas slave trade had powerful transformational impacts on the region, despite the relatively modest volume of the slave trade from this region.

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    • Brooks, George E. Eurafricans in Western Africa: Commerce, Social Status, Gender, and Religious Observance from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2001.

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      A careful examination of how Africans interacted with Europeans commercially and culturally in Senegambia and Upper Guinea, including how Europeans were absorbed into African communities. The treatment of African women is especially rich.

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    • Curtin, Phillip D. Economic Change in Pre-colonial Africa: Senegambia in the Era of the Slave Trade. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1975.

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      This still valuable, pioneering work used sophisticated economic models to try to understand whether the slave exports from this region were a byproduct of wars between African states or whether the wars were the product of the demand for slaves.

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    • Curto, José C. Enslaving Spirits: The Portuguese-Brazilian Alcohol Trade at Luanda and Its Hinterland, c. 1550–1830. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2004.

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      Instead of focusing on the export of slaves, the originality of this book lies in its attention to the importance of Angola’s imports of Brazilian alcohol, a focus that also emphasizes the major role played by Brazilians in the slave trade of the South Atlantic.

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    • Latham, A. J. H. Old Calabar, 1600–1891: The Impact of the International Economy upon a Traditional Society. Oxford: Clarendon, 1973.

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      This definitive study of the second most important port on the Bight of Biafra stresses African engagement with the Atlantic trade, first in slaves, then in palm oil.

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    • Law, Robin. The Slave Coast of West Africa, 1550–1750: The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on an African Society. Oxford: Clarendon, 1991.

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      The definitive study, by a prominent historian of Africa, of how European merchants and their African partners made this one of the most important coasts of origin for Atlantic slave trade and the consequences this had for the Africans remaining there.

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    • Law, Robin. Ouidah: The Social History of a West African Port, 1727–1892. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2004.

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      An outstanding study of the rise and fall of the most important port on the Slave Coast of West Africa, based on a thorough examination of written and oral sources. Law stresses the active roles African social networks played in the port’s long-term prominence in the trade.

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    • Northrup, David. Trade without Rulers: Precolonial Economic Development in Southeastern Nigeria. Oxford: Clarendon, 1978.

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      An important economic and cultural survey of the hinterland trading region of the Bight of Biafra from early times through the European encounters with Europe up to the mid-19th century, emphasizing African actions and continuities over time.

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    Slavery in Africa and Its Abolition

    The realization of the importance of African slave trading to coastal African societies led to questions about how Africans were initially enslaved and how widespread slavery was in African societies. As Lovejoy 2005 suggests, answering these questions required looking well beyond Atlantic coastal societies and including slavery in societies that had little or no connection to the Atlantic trade. Works from historians and anthropologists like Lovejoy 2005, Meillassoux 1992, Miers and Kopytoff 1977 and Robertson and Klein 1983 explore the rich array of indigenous institutions of slavery in Africa. Afigbo 2006, Klein 1998, Lovejoy and Hogendorn 1993, and the essays in Miers and Roberts 1988 examine the equally complex process of ending indigenous slavery in Africa during the period of European colonial rule or after.

    • Afigbo, A. E. The Abolition of the Slave Trade in Southeastern Nigeria, 1885–1950. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2006.

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      A careful study by an eminent Nigerian historian of the ineffectiveness of British efforts to suppress slave trading in colonial Nigeria, owing to African indifference and resistance along with the limits of British power.

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    • Klein, Martin. Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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      An important study of the interactions of slaves, African slave owners, and French colonial authorities in the Western Sudan during the 19th and 20th centuries and the efforts of slaves and the French to end the institution after 1900.

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    • Lovejoy, Paul. Slavery, Commerce, and Production in West Africa: Slave Society in the Sokoto Caliphate. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 2005.

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      This authoritative study of the largest slave-based society in Africa (and in the world) in the 19th century provides great insight into African attitudes toward slavery and abolition in an Islamic society.

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    • Lovejoy, Paul, and Jan S. Hogendorn. Slow Death for Slavery: The Course of Abolition in Northern Nigeria, 1897–1936. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

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      A careful study of the dynamics among the British colonial officials who feared losing the cooperation of powerful African slave owners if they moved too precipitously to emancipate their slaves. Once aware of what was afoot, many of the slaves fled their masters’ control.

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    • Meillassoux, Claude. The Anthropology of Slavery: The Womb of Iron and Gold. Translated by Alide Dasnois. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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      A respected expert on slavery in African societies in precolonial Sudanic West Africa takes issue with the description of slavery presented by Miers and Kopytoff 1977, in the process highlighting the extraordinary range and complexity of institutions of slavery in Africa.

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    • Miers, Suzanne, and Igor Kopytoff, eds. Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977.

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      Anyone seeking to understand the institutions of slavery in sub-Saharan Africa should read the editors’ introduction to this volume. Because of constraints of evidence, most of the case studies are set in the 19th century but still provide insights into slavery’s many forms in earlier times.

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    • Miers, Suzanne, and Richard Roberts, eds. The End of Slavery in Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

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      Scholarly essays about the often lengthy process by which African institutions of slavery were abolished, largely by European colonial regimes.

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    • Robertson, Claire C., and Martin A. Klein, eds. Women and Slavery in Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.

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      These scholarly case studies examine the relationships of enslaved women and their African masters in West, East, and Central Africa, along with the roles of African women as slave owners in different parts of West Africa.

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    Africa and the Americas

    The growing attention to African history and culture has led to a third trend in recent slave trade studies: examining Africans’ cultural impacts and legacies in the Americas. Much of the local and national research into this aspect of slavery is described more fully in other bibliography entries. This list confines itself to broad, comparative studies. The brief overview of Mintz and Price 1992 is a good starting place, although some have questioned its emphasis on dynamic cultural change. Manning 2003 traces several decades of trends in the historiography of this complex subject. As the studies in Curto and Lovejoy 2004, Mann and Bay 2001, and Sweet 2003 show, Brazil was a particularly rich and diverse place for African cultural effects, because it had the largest and longest-lasting slave trade from Africa. Gomez 1998 shows the problems and possibilities of similar efforts in the American South, whose share of the Atlantic slave trade was much smaller and more temporally concentrated. The studies in Heywood 2002 and in Curto and Soulodre-La France 2004 deal with a range of other places in the Americas.

    • Curto, José C., and Paul E. Lovejoy, eds. Enslaving Connections: Changing Cultures of Africa and Brazil during the Era of Slavery. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2004.

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      As these case studies show, Brazil, the site of the largest and longest-lasting transatlantic slave trade, is a particularly rich and diverse place to examine the cultural and linguistic impacts of African forced immigrants, the relations of African-born and Brazilian-born slaves, and the evolution of identities among them.

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    • Curto, José C., and Renée Soulodre-La France, eds. Africa and the Americas: Interconnections during the Slave Trade. Trenton, NJ: Africa World, 2004.

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      A collection of scholarly studies of the slave trade, African cultures in the Americas, and the impact of diasporic African cultures on Africa.

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    • Gomez, Michael. Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

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      One of the best efforts to date to recover the ethnic origins of slaves from Africa and to trace how they became African Americans.

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    • Heywood, Linda, ed. Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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      Diverse case studies examine African and Afro-Portuguese activities in Angola, and the evolution of Central African cultural identities and practices in South America, the West Indies, and North America.

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    • Mann, Kristin, and Edna G. Bay, eds. Rethinking the African Diaspora: The Making of a Black Atlantic World in the Bight of Benin and Brazil. London: Frank Cass, 2001.

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      Originally published in a special issue of Slavery and Abolition, these scholarly case studies examine the reality and memory of Africa in Brazil and Brazilians in the West African kingdom of Dahomey. An important critique by Mann of recent scholarship on African culture in the Americas concludes that less acrimony would produce more meaningful dialogue.

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    • Manning, Patrick. “Africa and the African Diaspora: New Directions of Study.” Journal of African History 44 (2003): 487–506.

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      A lucid and wide-ranging critical review and analysis of developments in the study of the African diaspora since 1960, especially regarding continuities and changes in culture and identity.

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    • Mintz, Sidney W., and Richard Price. The Birth of African-American Culture: An Anthropological Perspective. Boston: Beacon, 1992.

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      Written in 1972–1973 by two notable anthropologists and originally published in 1976 under a different title, this pioneering work has framed the debates about African cultural developments in the Americas even since. In recent times its emphasis on cultural transformation has been strongly attacked by those wishing to stress cultural continuity with Africa, though the dispute may be more about whether the glass is half full or half empty.

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    • Sweet, James H. Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441–1770. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

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      This important and fascinating monograph documents the existence of Central African cultural practices in early Brazil. Based on Inquisition records, so it is not surprising that most of the examples concern religious practices.

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    Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

    The intellectual origins and operations of the campaign to end the slave trade led by the British, once the largest slave traders, are explored in Drescher 1977 and Drescher 1987, and more popularly by Hochschild 2005. Eltis 1987 probes the economic aspects of British abolitionism, while Marques 2006 shows why abolitionists found it so hard to gain traction in Portugal. Abolitionism from below is examined by the authors in Diouf 2003, concerning antislavery efforts in Africa and the Atlantic, and those in Geggus 2001, concerning the dramatic effects of the successful slave revolt in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, the Caribbean’s largest slave society. When completed, Gale Digital Collections should be an important research tool.

    • Diouf, Sylviane A., ed. Fighting Slave Trade: West African Strategies. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2003.

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      The original case studies in this collection examine African efforts to avoid being enslaved or to mitigate slavery, primarily in African societies. Two studies involve African defenses against the Atlantic slave trade, and one considers shipboard slave revolts.

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    • Drescher, Seymour. Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977.

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      This masterful book effectively demolished the thesis by Eric Williams and his followers that economic changes in Britain were fundamental to abolitionism by showing how damaging the ending of the slave trade was to British economic interests and thereby returning attention to the religious and moral roots of abolitionism.

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    • Drescher, Seymour. Capitalism and Antislavery: British Mobilization in Comparative Perspective. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

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      A brief, readable, authoritative account of the intellectual, political, social, and economic forces behind Britain’s landmark commitment to the ending of the Atlantic slave trade, enhanced by Drescher’s attention to abolitionism in France.

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    • Eltis, David. Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

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      A careful examination of why Britain, the most successful slave-using nation, took and sustained leadership in the movement to end the slave trade and emancipate slaves, and the economic consequences this had for the British Empire. The argument supports Drescher 1977 and opposes Williams 1994.

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    • Gale Digital Collections. Slavery and Anti-slavery: A Transnational Resource.

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      When completed, this mammoth collection will have four parts: antislavery debates, the Atlantic slave trade, the institution of slavery, and the age of emancipation. As of 2009, subscribing institutions could access only the first part, which included “more than 6,000 books and pamphlets, more than 60 newspaper and periodical titles, and a dozen major manuscript collections.”

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      • Geggus, David P., ed. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001.

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        These scholarly case studies of the multiple impacts, long- and short-term, of the revolution in France’s most valuable colony are reminders of the role played by “abolition from below” in ending slavery and the slave trade.

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      • Hochschild, Adam. Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

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        This captivating and carefully researched account of the rise and success of British abolitionism is traditional in its framing of the movement as a story of great men (and their female supporters), and in skipping from the end of the British slave trade to the end of British slavery without any account of the sustained campaign to suppress slave trading by other nations.

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      • Marques, João Pedro. The Sounds of Silence: Nineteenth-Century Portugal and the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Translated by Richard Wall. New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2006.

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        A rare study of the sustained resistance in Portugal to abolitionism and the eventual success there of British pressures to end the slave trade, based on archival sources and covering the period from the end of the 1700s to the 1860s.

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      LAST MODIFIED: 05/10/2010

      DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199730414-0053

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