Anti-Slavery Mobilization

According to Outram, why did it take so long for “anti-slavery mobilization” to get off the ground?

The slave trade is a major factor in making plantations economically viable. Slavery was “embedded in powerful, highly organized economic structures. Slave labor returned high profits to those in the slave trade, and also to those involved in colonial plantation production” (Outram 64). Abolishing slavery meant that plantation owners would now have to pay for people to work the fields. Even low wages cost something for the owners. Thus, there was a great economic interest in paying the workers as little as possible (and preferably nothing). This is why today, and over the last century, most large companies are anti-unions. Unions drive up costs (by putting pressure on the owners to pay their workers higher wages). Economic was the main reason why the anti-slavery mobilization movement took so long to get off the ground. “Objective changes in the organization and economic importance of African slavery in European colonies in this period did not make any easier the path to their resolution or to the abolition of slavery” (Outram 63). In other words, toomany people were invested in it. Furthermore, economics was also the main reason why the South fought to keep slaves the longest and why America was the last country to abolish slavery (we had the most to lose financially from its disappearance).

Outram, D. The Enlightenment. 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University. 2005. Print.

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