Eric Williams was born on September 25, 1911, son of Elisa and Henry Williams, a minor Post Office official in Trinidad. He was educated at Queen's Royal College and won the Island Scholarship to Oxford University. At Oxford, he placed first in the First Class of the History Honours School and received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1938. His doctoral thesis, The Economic Aspect of the West Indian Slave Trade and Slavery, was considered an important contribution to research on the subject and was published in 1944 in Williams' Capitalism and Slavery. Much of Williams' educational pursuits at Queen's Royal College and Oxford University are documented in his book, Inward Hunger: The Education of a Prime Minister. He died on March 29, 1981.
In this critical essay, “The Origin of Negro Slavery”, Eric Williams analyses the beginning of Negro slavery in the Caribbean. The historian not only focuses on the start of the African slave trade, but he discusses how other races of people were not free, such as whites and Native Americans. When colonists first settled the New World and began establishing an agricultural economy there, they first began using Native Americans for work, but when the Indians weren’t enough, the masters turned to white Europeans. These poor whites consisted of indentured servants, who came to the New World under contract with an employer. There were also “redemptioners,” Europeans who arranged with the captain to pay for their passage on arrival. Others were convicts sent out to serve for a specific period. Also, some Europeans were kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Later on, when the rich, white Europeans needed a very cheap labor force to overcome the limited supply of workers they encountered during the rising period of large plantations for such crops as sugar, tobacco, and cotton in the Caribbean and they found the perfect solution with the African slaves. Eric Williams... [continua]
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