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British Slave Emancipation$
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Green William A.

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202783

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202783.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 27 January 2022

The Impact of Free Trade

The Impact of Free Trade

(p.229) Chapter 8 The Impact of Free Trade
British Slave Emancipation

William A. Green

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the impact of free trade on the production of sugar, consumption of sugar in mainland Britain, and the West Indies' market competitiveness. In 1846, Lord John Russell passed the Sugar Duties Act, which equalized the tariff imposed on foreign sugar, both free and slave grown. This Act provoked a massive barrage of protests wherein it was argued that the free trade of sugar would cause the expansion of the slave trade across the Atlantic and would lead to the irrevocable social and economic regression of the freedmen. Following the introduction of free trade, the West Indies suffered economic downfall. However, although free trade jeopardized the West Indian sugar industry, it did not destroy it. As the price of sugar fell, planters were forced to double output to get the same gross income. To meet these goals, they sought solutions through the immigration of an Indian and Asian labour force – an immigration deemed unwelcome by the planters. Free trade also encouraged the adoption of the share-cropping system known as the métayer system, wherein planters divided their lands among freedmen to be cultivated in exchange for a small percentage. The Encumbered Estates Act of 1854, which was designed to facilitate the sale of properties laden with complicated debts, was legislated in a vain attempt to save the plantations.

Keywords:   free trade, production of sugar, sugar, Sugar Duties, immigration, Encumbered Estates

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