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The Gun-Slave Cycle in the 18th century British slave trade in Africa

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  • Whatley, Warren

Abstract

The trans-Atlantic slave trade is considered by many to have been a major shock to Africa, one that transformed African economies and contributed to long-term poverty. In this paper I combine data from the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database and the Anglo-African Trade Statistics to document some of the ways West Africans responded to the demand and technology shocks of the slave trade – how they responded to the growing international demand for African people as slaves and the introduction of the new gunpowder technology called the flintlock. I find that the early interaction of these two shocks – the gun-slave cycle – initiated a vicious cycle, a “raid or be raided” arms race. In the process, large numbers of Africans were victimized and sold into the Middle Passage.

Suggested Citation

  • Whatley, Warren, 2012. "The Gun-Slave Cycle in the 18th century British slave trade in Africa," MPRA Paper 44492, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:44492
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/58741/1/MPRA_paper_58741.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Grubb Farley & Stitt Tony, 1994. "The Liverpool Emigrant Servant Trade and the Transition to Slave Labor in the Chesapeake, 1697-1707: Market Adjustments to War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 376-405, July.
    2. Nathan Nunn & Leonard Wantchekon, 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3221-3252, December.
    3. Eltis, David, 1987. "Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195041354.
    4. Richardson, David, 1991. "Prices of Slaves in West and West-Central Africa: Toward an Annual Series, 1698-1807," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 21-56, January.
    5. John T. Dalton & Tin Cheuk Leung, 2014. "Why Is Polygyny More Prevalent in Western Africa? An African Slave Trade Perspective," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(4), pages 599-632.
    6. Ann M. Carlos & Jamie Brown Kruse, 1996. "The decline of the Royal African Company: fringe firms and the role of the charter," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 49(2), pages 291-313, May.
    7. Warren Whatley & Rob Gillezeau, 2011. "The Impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on Ethnic Stratification in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 571-576, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Graziella Bertocchi, 2016. "The legacies of slavery in and out of Africa," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, December.
    2. Boxell, Levi, 2016. "A Drought-Induced African Slave Trade?," MPRA Paper 69853, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Margherita Bottero & Björn Wallace, 2013. "Is There a Long-Term Effect of Africa's Slave Trades?," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 30, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. Graziella Bertocchi, 2016. "The Legacies of Slavery in and out of Africa," Department of Economics 0096, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    5. Dalton, John & Leung, Tin Cheuk, 2015. "Being Bad by Being Good: Owner and Captain Value-Added in the Slave Trade," MPRA Paper 66865, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Africa; Britain; Slave Trade; Firearms;

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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