Capitalism's captives: The maritime united states slave trade, 1807-1850

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3 Scopus citations


The maritime interstate trade in bondspersons illustrates the contours of United States capitalism of the early nineteenth century as it developed between 1807 and midcentury. The saltwater trade between the Chesapeake and New Orleans comprised four stages corresponding to larger economic developments. An incidental slave trade rose in the context of the US ban on imported slaves, embargoes, and the growth of domestic commerce. An essential trade followed, growing in the post-War of 1812 transatlantic market for agricultural staples. It was carried on aboard vessels plying the so-called cotton triangle and also ships carrying regionally-specific goods and commodities between domestic ports. The 1830s witnessed a vertical trade exemplified by one slaving firm that responded to the swift expansion of credit and surging demand. Following the panic of 1837, market fragmentation led to a mechanical trade, which was also dependent on robust exports of slave-produced crops. Financial technologies propelled that development, and the maritime slave trade was nearly seamlessly integrated into the broader coastal trade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-921
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social History
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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