BizHisCol Webinar – Economic histories of slavery and abolition (double feature)

08/06/2021 16.00 UK

Register here

Presenters: Kate Ekama (Stellenbosch University) and Alexandra Garrett (Iona College)
Chair: Nicholas Wong (Northumbria University)

Profiting from Slavery after Abolition: Emancipation and the Business of Compensation in the Cape Colony

Kate Ekama (Stellenbosch University)

This paper investigates the hitherto unexplored role that agents played in claiming the £1 million the British Government allocated to former slaveholders in the Cape Colony after emancipation of the enslaved in 1834. Close analysis of the accounts of one firm, Thomson, Watson & Co., reveals the importance of London contacts to provide finance to buy claims. Within the Colony the firm, agents themselves, used commission agents to buy claims. By purchasing claims at a discount, the firm profited from slavery after abolition, which profits probably facilitated its continued success in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Virginia State Penitentiary and the Incarcerated Goods Market in Richmond, Virginia (1800-1820)

Alexandra Garrett (Iona College)

This paper uses the Records of the Virginia State Penitentiary (Library of Virginia Manuscripts) and nineteenth century Richmond newspapers to explore the relationships among prisoners, those employed by the state to control them, those who sold prisoners’ wares, those who bought prisoners’ wares, and those business owners who competed with them in the Richmond goods market. I argue that competing forms of unfree labor undergirded the Richmond market and enabled the sale of an increasingly diverse set of manufactured goods to Richmond’s inhabitants. I also suggest that through the Penitentiary, the state weakened white individuals’ attempts at manufacturing in the early Republic, despite promising economic opportunity to ex-convicts and business owners alike.