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The Importance of the Slave Trade to the Development of the Plant...

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The Importance of the Slave Trade to the Development of the Plantation Economies

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  • October 24, 2005
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Question: Examine the importance of the slave trade to the development of the plantation economies. The slave trade was vital to the development of plantation economies, which could only expand and survive in the West Indies with the use of slave labour. The slave trade brought enslaved Africans from Africa to colonies in the West Indies, which had begun to take part in the "sugar Revolution" starting in 1640. The plantation system which essentially is the organization of agriculture on a large scale usually producing a single crop such as sugar, coffee, cocoa and tobacco, small farmers were pushed out and a few large plantation rose up to take their place and the combination of these large plantations formed the plantation economies so the colonies became large monocrop producing units . Agriculture on a large scale needs a large labour force which works for low wages or none at all so as to maximize the profitability of the plantation, in the west Indies there was plenty of land and capital which are essential for production but the labour was not present there to sustain plantation economies, so therefore labour had to be found and after many unsuccessful attempts, slave labour from Africa solved the labour problems of the planters and made the vital link between the plantation economies and the slave trade. The slave trade provided the labour, which was the backbone of the plantation system, without labour no production is possible and it soon became more profitable to buy slaves and work them to death and buy new ones than to allow the slave population to sustain itself by natural reproduction, this too made the link vital and with the growth pf slave economies demand also grew and the linkage grew stronger. The link between the African slave trade and the plantation economies did not exist early in the plantation system there was not always the scarcity of labour that lead to the link between the plantation system in the West Indies and the slave trade....