–Eric Williams, 1944
(These selections are taken from Williams’ landmark work, Capitalism and Slavery, a book still considered authoritative even half a century after its publication. Born in Trinidad, Williams received his doctorate in London, worked as a history professor at Howard University, then returned to Trinidad. There he founded the People’s National Movement, led Trinidad to independence, and was the first Prime Mister of Trinidad & Tobago from 1961 until his death in 1981. See “Politics Kaiso” by Roger McTair for more information on Williams.)
- When in 1492 Columbus, representing the Spanish monarchy, discovered the new World, he set in train the long and bitter international rivalry over colonial possessions for which, after four and a half centuries, no solution has yet been found. Portugal, which had initiated the movement of international expansion, claimed the new territories on the ground that they fell within the scope of a papal bull of 1455 authorizing her to reduce to servitude all infidel peoples. The two powers, to avoid controversy, sought arbitration and, as Catholics, turned to the Pope – a natural and logical step in an age when the universal claims of the Papacy were still unchallenged by individuals and governments. After carefully sifting the rival claims, the Pope issued in 1493 a series of papal bulls which established a line of demarcation between the colonial possessions of the two states: the East went to Portugal and the West to Spain [later adjusted to permit Portuguese ownership of Brazil as well. . . . ]
- Neither the papal arbitration nor the formal treaty was intended to be binding on other powers, and both were in fact repudiated. Cabot’s voyage to North America in 1497 was England’s immediate reply to the partition. Francis I of France voiced his celebrated protest: “The sun shines for me as for others. I should very much like to see the clause in Adam’s will that excludes me from a share of the world.” The king of Denmark refused to accept the Pope’s ruling as far as the East Indies were concerned. Sir William Cecil, the famous Elizabethan statesman, denied the Pope’s right “to give and take kingdoms to whomsoever he pleased.” In 1580 the English government countered with the principle of effective occupation as the determinant of sovereignty. Thereafter, in the parlance of the day, there was “no peace below the line.” It was a dispute, in the words of a later governor of Barbados, as to “whether the King of England or of France shall be monarch of the West Indies, for the King of Spain cannot hold it long. . . . ” England, France, and even Holland began to challenge the Iberian Axis and claim their place in the sun. The Negro, too, was to have his place, though he did not ask for it: it was the broiling sun of the sugar, tobacco and cotton plantations of the New World.
- According to Adam Smith, the prosperity of a new colony depends upon one simple economic factor – “plenty of good land.” The British colonial possessions up to 1776, however, can broadly be divided into two types. The first is the self-sufficient and diversified economy of small farmers[. . . . ] The second type is the colony which has facilities for the production of staple articles on a large scale for an export market. In the first category fell the Northern colonies of the American mainland; in the second, the mainland tobacco colonies and the sugar islands of the Caribbean. In colonies of the latter type [. . . ] land and capital were both useless unless labor could] be commanded. Labor, that is, must be constant and must work, or be made to work, in co-operation. In such colonies the rugged individualism of the Massachusetts farmer, practicing his intensive agriculture and wringing by the sweat of his brow niggardly returns from a grudging soil, must yield to the disciplined gang of the big capitalist practicing extensive agriculture and production on a large scale. Without his compulsion, the laborer would otherwise exercise his natural inclination to work his own land and toil on his own account[. . . . ]
- For the Caribbean colonies the solution [. . . ] was slavery. The lesson of the early history of Georgia is instructive. Prohibited from employing slave labor by trustees who, in some instances, themselves owned slaves in other colonies, the Georgian planters found themselves in the position [. . . ] of people whose legs were tied and were told to walk. So the Georgia magistrates drank toasts “to the one thing needful” – slavery – until the ban was lifted. “Odious resource” though it might be [ . . .] slavery was an economic institution of the first importance. It had been the basis of Greek economy and had built up the Roman Empire. In modern times it provided the sugar for the tea and the coffee cups of the Western world. It produced the cotton to serve as a base for modern capitalism. It made the American South and the Caribbean islands. Seen in historical perspective, it forms a part of that general picture of the harsh treatment of the underprivileged classes, the unsympathetic poor laws and severe feudal laws, and the indifference with which the rising capitalist class was “beginning to reckon prosperity in terms of pounds sterling, and . . . becoming used to the idea of sacrificing human life to the deity of increased production.”
- Adam Smith, the intellectual champion of the industrial middle class with its new-found doctrine of freedom, later propagated the argument that it was, in general, pride and love of power in the master that led to slavery and that, in those countries where slaves were employed, free labor would be more profitable. Universal experience demonstrated conclusively that “the work done by slaves, though it appears to cost only their maintenance, is in the end the dearest of any. A person who can acquire no property can have no other interest than to eat as much, and to labour as little as possible.”
- Adam Smith thereby treated as an abstract proposition what is a specific question of time, place, labor and soil. The economic superiority of free hired labor over slave is obvious even to the slave owner. Slave labor is given reluctantly, it is unskillful, it lacks versatility. Other things being equal, free men would be preferred. But in the early stages of colonial development, other things are not equal. When slavery is adopted, it is not adopted as the choice over free labor; there is no choice at all. The reasons for slavery, wrote Gibbon Wakefield, “are not moral, but economical circumstances; they relate not to vice and virtue, but to production.” With the limited population of Europe in the sixteenth century, the free laborers necessary to cultivate the staple crops of sugar, tobacco and cotton in the New World could not have been supplied in quantities adequate to permit large-scale production. Slavery was necessary for this, and to get slaves the Europeans turned first to the [Caribindian] aborigines and then to Africa.
- Under certain circumstances slavery has some obvious advantages. In the cultivation of crops like sugar, cotton and tobacco, where the cost of production is appreciably reduced on larger units, the slaveowner, with his large-scale production and his organized slave gang, can make more profitable use of the land than the small farmer or peasant proprietor. For such staple crops, the vast profits can well stand the greater expense of inefficient slave labor. Where all the knowledge required is simple and a matter of routine, constancy and cooperation in labor – slavery – is essential, until, by importation of new recruits and breeding, the population has reached the point of density and the land available for appropriation has been already apportioned. When that stage is reached, and only then, the expenses of slavery, in the form of the cost and maintenance of slaves, productive and unproductive, exceed the cost of hired laborers. As Merivale wrote: “Slave labour is dearer than free wherever abundance of free labour can be procured.”
- From the standpoint of the grower, the greatest defect of slavery lies in the fact that it quickly exhausts the soil. The labor supply of low social status, docile and cheap can be maintained in subjective only by systematic degradation and by deliberate efforts to suppress its intelligence. Rotation of crops and scientific farming are therefore alien to slave societies. As Jefferson wrote of Virginia, “we can buy an a crew of new land cheaper than we can manure an old one.” The slave planter, in the picturesque nomenclature of the South, is a “land-killer.” This serious defect of slavery can be counterbalanced and postponed for a time if fertile soil is practically unlimited. Expansion is a necessity of slave societies: the slave power requires ever fresh conquests. “It is more profitable,” wrote Merivale, “to cultivate a fresh soil by the dear labour of slaves, than an exhausted one by the cheap labour of freemen.” From Virginia and Maryland to Carolina, Georgia, Texas and the Middle West; from Barbados to Jamaica to Saint Domingue and then to Cuba; the logic was inexorable and the same. It was a relay race: the first to start passed the baton, unwillingly we may be sure, to another and then limped sadly behind.
- Indentured servants [the bulk of the Caribbean labor force in the first few years of British colonization] were not forthcoming [to the West Indies] in sufficient quantities to replace those who had served their term. On the plantations, escape was easy for the white servant; less easy for the Negro who, if freed, tended, in self-defense, to stay in his locality where he was well known and less likely to be apprehended as a vagrant or a runaway slave. The servant expected land at the end of his contract; the Negro, in a strange environment, conspicuous by his color and features, and ignorant of the white man’s language and ways, could be kept permanently divorced from the land. Racial differences made it easier to justify and rationalize Negro slavery, to exact the mechanical obedience of a plough-ox or a cart-horse, to demand that resignation and that complete moral and intellectual subjection which alone make slave labor possible. Finally, and this was the decisive factor, the Negro slave was cheaper. The money which procured a white man’s services for ten years could buy a Negro for life. As the governor of Barbados stated, the Barbadian planters found by experience that “three blacks work better and cheaper than one white man.”
10. But the experience with white servitude had been invaluable. Kidnapping in Africa encountered no such difficulties as were encountered in England. Captains and ships had the experience of the one trade to guide them in the other. Bristol, the center of the servant trade, became one of the centers of the slave trade. Capital accumulated from the one financed the other. White servitude was the historic base upon which Negro slavery was constructed. The felon-drivers in the plantations became without effort slave-drivers. “In significant numbers,” writes Professor Phillips, “the Africans were latecomers fitted into a system already developed.”
11. Here, then, is the origin of Negro slavery. The reason was economic, not racial; it had to do not with the color of the laborer, but the cheapness of the labor. As compared with Indian and white labor, Negro slavery was eminently superior. “In each case,” writes Bassett, discussing North Carolina, “it was a survival of the fittest. Both Indian slavery and white servitude were to go down before the black man’s superior endurance, docility, and labor capacity.” The features of the man, his hair, color and dentifrice, his “subhuman” characteristics so whitely pleaded, were only the later rationalizations to justify a simple economic fact: that the colonies needed labor and resorted to Negro labor because it was cheapest and best. This was not a theory, it was a practical conclusion deduced from the personal experience of the planter. He would have gone to the moon, if necessary, for labor. Africa was nearer than the moon, nearer too than the more populous countries of India and China. But their turn was to come.
12. Negro slavery, thus, had nothing to do with climate. Its origin can be expressed in three words: in the Caribbean, Sugar; on the mainland, Tobacco and Cotton. A change in the economic structure produced a corresponding change in the labor supply. The fundamental fact was “the creation of an inferior social and economic organization of exploiters and exploited.” Sugar, tobacco, and cotton required the large plantation and hordes of cheap labor, and the small farm of the ex-indentured white servant could not possible survive. The tobacco of the small farm in Barbados [England's first viable West Indian colony] was displaced by the sugar of the large plantation. The rise of the sugar industry in the Caribbean was the signal for a gigantic dispossession of the small farmer. Barbados in 1645 had 11,200 small white farmers and 5,680 Negro slaves; in 1667 there were 745 large plantation owners and 82,923 slaves. In 1645 the island had 18,300 whites fit to bear arms, in 1667 only 8,300. The white farmers were squeezed out. The planters continued to offer inducements to newcomers, but they could no longer offer the main inducement, land. White servants preferred the other islands where they could hope for land, to Barbados, where they were sure there was none. In desperation the planters proposed legislation which would prevent a landowner from purchasing more land, compel Negroes and servants to wear dimity manufactured in Barbados (what would English mercantilists have said?) to provide employment for the poor whites, and prevent Negroes from being taught to trade. The governor of Barbados in 1695 drew a pitiful picture of these ex-servants. Without fresh meat or rum, “they are domineered over and used like dogs, and this in time will undoubtedly drive away all the commonalty of the white people.” His only suggestion was to give the right to elect members of the Assembly to every white man owning two acres of land. Candidates for election would “sometimes give the poor miserable creatures a little run and fresh provisions and such things as would be of nourishment to them,” in order to get their votes-and elections were held every year. It is not surprising that the exodus continued.
13. The poor whites began their travels, disputing their way all over the Caribbean, from Barbados to Nevis, to Antigua, and thence to Guiana and Trinidad, and ultimately Carolina. Everywhere they were pursued and dispossessed by the same inexorable economic force, sugar; and in Carolina they were safe from cotton only for a hundred years. Between 1672 and 1708 the white men in Nevis decreased by more than three-fifths, the black population more than doubled. Between 1672 and 1727 the white males of Montserrat declined by more than two-thirds, in the same period the black population increased more than eleven times. “The more they buie,” said the Barbadians, referring to their slaves, “the more they are able to buye, for in a yeare and a half they will earne with God’s blessing as much as they cost.” King Sugar had begun his depredations, changing flourishing commonwealths of small farmers into vast sugar factories owned by a camarilla of absentee capitalist magnates and worked by a mass of alien proletarians. The plantation economy ad no room for poor whites; the proprietor or overseer, a physician on the more prosperous plantations, possibly their families, these were sufficient. “If a state,” wrote Weston, “could be supposed to be made up of continuous plantations, the white race would be not merely starved out, but literally squeezed out.” The resident planters, apprehensive of the growing disproportion between whites and blacks, passed Deficiency Laws to compel absentees, under penalty of fines, to keep white servants. The absentees preferred to pay the fines. In the West Indies today the poor whites survive in the “Redlegs” of Barbados, pallid, weak and depraved from in-breeding, strong rum, insufficient food and abstinence from manual labor. For, as Merivale wrote, “in a country where Negro slavery prevails extensively, no white is industrious.”
14. The whole future history of the Caribbean is nothing more than a dotting of the i’s, and a crossing of the t’s. It happened earlier in the British and French than in the Spanish islands, where the process was delayed until the advent of the dollar diplomacy of our own time. Under American capital we have witnessed the transformation of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic into huge sugar factories (though the large plantation, especially in Cuba, was not unknown under the Spanish regime), owned abroad and operated by alien labor, on the British West Indian pattern. That this process is taking place with free labor and in nominally independent areas (Puerto Rico excepted) helps us to see in its true light the first importation of Negro salve labor in the British Caribbean – a phase in the history of the plantation. In the words of Professor Phillips, the plantation system was “less dependent upon slavery than slavery was upon it. . . . . The plantation system formed, so to speak, the industrial and social frame of government . . . while slavery was a code of written laws enacted for that purpose.”
15. Where the plantation did not develop, as in the Cuban tobacco industry, Negro labor was rare and white labor predominated. The liberal section of the Cuban population consistently advocated the cessation of the Negro slave trade and the introduction of white immigrants. Saco, mouthpiece of the liberals, called for the immigration of workers “white and free, from all parts of the world, of all races, provided they have a white face and can do honest labor.” Sugar defeated Saco. It was the sugar plantation, with its servile base, which retarded white immigration in nineteenth-century Cuba as it had banned it in seventeenth-century Barbados and eighteenth-century Saint Domingue. No sugar, no Negroes. In Puerto Rico, which developed relatively late as a genuine plantation, and where, before the American regime, sugar never dominated the lives and thoughts of the population as it did elsewhere, the poor white peasants survived and the Negro slaves never exceeded fourteen per cent of the population. Saco wanted to “whiten” the Cuban social structure. Negro slavery blackened that structure all over the Caribbean while the blood of the Negro slaves reddened the Atlantic and both its shores. Strange that an article like sugar, so sweet and necessary to human existence, should have occasioned such crimes and bloodshed!
16. Slavery had created the pernicious tradition that manual labor was the badge of the slave and the sphere of influence of the Negro. The first thought of the Negro slave after emancipation was to desert the plantation, where he could, and set up for himself where land was available. White plantation workers could hardly have existed in a society side by side with Negro peasants. The whites would have prospered if small farms had been encouraged. But the abolition of slavery did not mean the destruction of the sugar plantation. The emancipation of the Negro and the inadequacy of the white worker put the sugar planter back to where he had been in the seventeenth century. He still needed labor. Then he had moved from Indian to white to Negro. Now, deprived of is Negro, he turned back to white and then to Indian, this time the Indian from the East. [Here Williams gives statistics about skyrocketing importation of Indian indentured laborers during the later 19th and early 20th centuries.] Cuba, faced with a shortage of Negro slaves, adopted the interesting experiment of using Negro slaves side by side with indentured Chinese coolies, and after emancipation turned to the teeming thousands of Haiti and the British West Indies [. . . . ]
17. Negro slavery therefore was only a solution, in certain historical circumstances, of the Caribbean labor problem. Sugar meant labor – at times that labor has been slave, at other times nominally free; at times black, at other times white or brown or yellow. Slavery in no way implied, in any scientific sense, the inferiority of the Negro. Without it the great development of the Caribbean sugar plantations, between 1650 and 1850, would have been impossible.
18. With free trade and the increasing demands of the sugar plantations, the volume of the British slave trade rose enormously. The Royal African Company, between 1680 and 1686, transported an annual average of 5,000 slaves. In the first nine years of free trade Bristol alone shipped 160,950 Negroes to the sugar plantations. In 1760, 146 ships sailed from British ports for Africa, with a capacity for 36,000 slaves; in 1771, the number of ships had increased to 190 and the number of slaves to 47,000. The importation into Jamaica from 1700 to 1786 was 610,000, and it has been estimated that the total import of slaves into all the British colonies between 1680 and 1786 was over two million [since this book was written, these numbers have been revised upward - significantly].
19. But the slave trade was more than a means to an end, it was also an end in itself. The British slave traders provided the necessary laborers not only for their own plantations but for those of their rivals. The encouragement thereby given to foreigners was contrary not only to common sense but to strict mercantilism, but, in so far as this foreign slave trade meant the Spanish colonies, there was some defense for it. Spain was always, up to the nineteenth century, dependent on foreigners for her slaves, either because she adhered to the papal arbitration which excluded her from Africa, or because of a lack of capital and the necessary goods for the slave trade. The privilege of supplying these slaves to the Spanish colonies, called the Asiento, became one of the most highly coveted and bitterly contested plums of international diplomacy. British mercantilists defended the trade, legal or illegal, with the Spanish colonies, in Negroes and manufactured goods, as of distinct value in that the Spaniards paid in coin, and thus the supply of bullion in England was increased. The supply of slaves to the French colonies could plead no such justification. Here it was clearly a clash of interest between the British slave trader and the British sugar planter, as the trade in the export of British machinery after 1825 led to a clash of interests between British shippers and British producers.
20. The purchase of slaves called for a business sense and shrewd discrimination. An Angolan Negro was a proverb for worthlessness; Coromantines (Ashantis) from the Gold Coast were good workers but too rebellious; Mandingoes (Senegal) were too prone to theft; the Eboes (Nigeria) were timid and despondent; the Pawpaws or Whydahs (Dahomey) were the most docile and best-disposed. The slaves were required for arduous field work, hence women and children were less valuable than robust males, the former because they were liable to interruptions from work through pregnancies, the latter because they required some attention until able to care for themselves. One Liverpool merchant cautioned his agents against buying ruptured slaves, idiots or any “old spider leged quality.” A West Indian poet advised the slave trader to see that the slave’s tongue was red, his chest broad and his belly not prominent. Buy them young, counselled one overseer from Nevis; “them full grown fellers think it hard to work never being brought up to it they take it to heart and dye or is never good for any thing.”
21. The Church also supported the slave trade. The Spaniards saw in it an opportunity of converting the heathen, and the Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans were heavily involved in sugar cultivation which meant slave-holding. The story is told of an old elder of the Church in Newport who would invariably, the Sunday following the arrival of a slaver from the coast, thank God that “another cargo of benighted beings had been brought to a land where they could have the benefit of a gospel dispensation.” But in general the British planters opposed Christianity for their slaves. It made them more perverse and intractable and therefore less valuable. It meant also instruction in the English language, which allowed diverse tribes to get together and plot sedition. There were more material reasons for this opposition. The governor of Barbados in 1695 attributed it to the planters’ refusal to give the slaves Sundays and feast days off, and as late as 1823 British public opinion was shocked by the planters’ rejection of a proposal to give the Negroes one day in the week in order to permit the abolition of the Negro Sunday market. The Church obediently toed the line. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel prohibited Christian instruction to its slaves in Barbados, and branded “Society” on its new slaves to distinguish them from those of the laity; the original slaves were the legacy of Christopher Codrington. Sherlock, later bishop of London, assured the planters that “Christianity and the embracing of the Gospel does not make the least difference in civil property.” Neither did it impose any barriers to clerical activity; for his labors with regard to the Asiento, which he helped to draw up as a British plenipotentiary at Utrecht, Bishop Robinson of Bristol was promoted to the see of London. The bells of the Bristol churches pealed merrily on the news of the rejection by Parliament of Wilberforce’s [leading British abolitionist] bill for the abolition of the slave trade[ . . . . ] Many missionaries found it profitable to drive out Beelzebub by Beelzebub. According to the most recent English writer on the slave trade, they “considered that the best way in which to remedy abuse of negro slaves was to set the plantation owners a good example by keeping slaves and estates themselves, accomplishing in this practical manner the salvation of the planters and the advancement of their foundations.” The Moravian missionaries in the islands held slaves without hesitation; the Baptists, one historian writes with charming delicacy, would not allow their earlier missionaries to deprecate ownership of slaves. To the very end the Bishop of Exeter retained his 655 slaves, for whom he received over 12,700 British pounds compensation in 1833 [after emancipation was passed, and slave-owners were compensated by the British government].
22. Church historians make awkward apologies, that conscience awoke very slowly to the appreciation of the wrongs inflicted by slavery and that the defense of slavery by churchmen “simply arose from want of delicacy of moral perception.” There is no need to make such apologies. The attitude of the churchman was the attitude of the layman. The eighteenth century, like any other century, could not rise above its economic limitations. As Whitefield argued in advocating the repeal of that article of the Georgia charter which forbade slavery, “it is plain to demonstration that hot countries cannot be cultivated without Negroes.”
23. Slavery existed under the very eyes of eighteenth-century Englishmen. An English coin, the guinea, rare though it was and is, had its origin in the trade to Africa. A Westminster goldsmith made silver padlocks for blacks and dogs. Busts of blackamoors and elephants, emblematical of the slave trade, adorned the Liverpool Town Hall. The insignia and equipment of the slave traders were boldly exhibited for sale in the shops and advertised in the press. Slaves were sold openly at auction. Slaves being valuable property, with title recognized by law, the postmaster was the agent employed on occasions to recapture runaway slaves and advertisements were published in the official organ of the government. Negro servants were common. Little black boys were the appendages of slave captains, fashionable ladies or women of easy virtue. Hogarth’s heroine, in The Harlot’s Progress, is attended by a Negro boy, and Marguerite Steen’s Orabella Burmester typifies eighteenth-century English opinion in her desire for a little black boy whom she could love as her long-haired kitten. Freed Negroes were conspicuous among London beggars and were known as St. Giles blackbirds. So numerous were they that a parliamentary committee was set up in 176 for relieving the black poor.
24. “Slavery cannot breathe in England,” wrote the poet Cowper. This was the license of the poet. It was held in 1677 that “Negroes being usually bought and sold among merchants, so merchandise, and also being infidels, there might be a property in them.” In 1729 the Attorney General ruled that baptism did not bestow freedom or make any alteration in the temporal condition of the slave; in addition the slave did not become free by being brought to England, and once in England the owner could legally compel his return to the plantations. So eminent an authority as Sir William Blackstone held that “with respect to any right the master may have lawfully acquired to the perpetual service of John or Thomas, this will remain exactly in the same state of subjection for life,” in England or elsewhere.
25. According to Adam Smith, the discovery of America and the Cape route to India are “the two greatest and most important event recorded in the history of mankind.” The importance of the discovery of America lay not in the precious metal sit provided but in the new and inexhaustible market it afforded for European commodities. One of its principal effects was to “raise the mercantile system to a degree of splendour and glory which it could never otherwise have attained to.” It gave rise to an enormous increase in world trade. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were the centuries of trade, as the nineteenth century was the century of production. For Britain that trade was primarily the triangular trade. In 1718 William Wood said that the slave trade was “the spring and parent whence the others flow.” A few years later Postlethwayt described the slave trade as “the first principle and foundation of all the rest, the mainspring of the machine which sets every wheel in motion.”
26. In this triangular trade England – France and Colonial America equally – supplied the exports and the ships; Africa the human merchandise; the plantations the colonial raw materials. The slave ship sailed from the home country with a cargo of manufactured goods. These were exchanged at a profit on the coast of Africa for Negroes, who were traded on the plantations, at another profit, in exchange for a cargo of colonial produce to be taken back to the home country. As the volume of trade increased, the triangular trade was supplemented, but never supplanted, by a direct trade between home country and the West Indies, exchanging home manufactures directly for colonial produce.
27. The triangular trade thereby gave a triple stimulus to British industry. The Negroes were purchased with British manufactures; transported to the plantations, they produced sugar, cotton, indigo, molasses and other tropical products, the processing of which created new industries in England, while the maintenance of the Negroes and their owners on the plantations provided another market for British industry, New England agriculture and the Newfoundland fisheries. By 1750 there was hardly a trading or a manufacturing town in England which was not in some way connected with the triangular or direct colonial trade. The profits obtained provided one of the main streams of that accumulation of capital in England which financed the Industrial Revolution.
The West Indian islands became the hub of the British Empire, of immense importance to the grandeur and prosperity of England. It was the Negro slaves who made these sugar colonies the most precious colonies ever recorded in the whole annals of imperialism. To Postlethwayt they were “the fundamental prop and support” of the colonies, “valuable people” whose labor supplied Britain with all plantation produce. The British Empire was “a magnificent superstructure of American commerce and naval power on an African foundation.”
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