4a. Why was Slavery so profitable for some?
What are we learning about?
Before even approaching our enquiry question, students need a more nuanced and diverse picture of the profitability of the Transatlantic Slave economy. To move beyond popular, narrow understandings of where profit emerged within the Slave Economy, students are introduced not only to the expropriation of wealth from the enslaved, but concepts of mercantilism, commodification and the industrial nature of the Transatlantic Slave economy.
- To explain how the West Indian Slave Economy worked
- To analyse why the West Indian Slave Economy was so profitable
- Task A: Recap timeline of 100 years with card sort. Get students to pick out the cards they think relate to today’s lesson. Pair activity every lesson.
- Task B: Take notes on the extent & different reasons for Transatlantic Slavery’s profitability
- Task C: Write a paragraph that constructs an argument on the extent/pace of change over the period.
This diagram seeks to move away from the Triangular Trade model (discredited by the literature) and move towards a ‘core-periphery’ model that places the extraction of profit from the enslaved worker at it’s foundation. This diagram – alongside the explainer slide – should allow students the various ways to get rich off the back of enslaving West Africans and their descendants.
The intricacies and complexities of the ‘West Indian’ Economy and it’s relations with the Pro-Slavery lobby are enough to make even a well-clued up teachers’ head hurt. Based upon the impressive research by Dr Katie Donnington into the Hibbert family, students should be able to grasp the different roles – political, economic, and cultural – played by those who profited off the work of the enslaved. The story of the Hibberts will also be of use to students seeking to assess the validity of Eric Williams’ famous ‘decline thesis’.