ABSTRACT

Historians have had little difficulty in assuming a positive relationship between economic incentives and the rise of Atlantic slavery in the three centuries after 1450. Indeed, many of them have given slavery pride of place in accounting for European industrialization and world domination during two centuries after about 1750. 1 The successful functioning of the overseas slave systems was dependent upon a rigorous separation between metropolis and colony. While north-western Europeans consolidated their social and economic systems upon the principle of universalized civil freedom, they expanded their overseas tropical settlements based upon a broad range of coerced labour systems and statuses, including chattel slavery.