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FIU Mercantilist Economic Theory Essay


What is the mercantilist economic theory? Explain what mercantilists understood as wealth. What are the implications for this perception of wealth when it comes to things like trade, and the acquisition of goods for trade? From the two short reading excerpts provided in module 9, explain the economic justifications provided by the pro-slavery lobby for the continuation of the practice. Since sugar was the commodity produced by the Caribbean plantations and it was a commodity in great demand in Europe, could we argue that Caribbean slave plantation systems were promoted and protected by the European states partially as a result of mercantilist beliefs (you need to basically connect, sugar, mercantilism, slavery…)

To avoid having you drift off-topic, I have devised a series of questions that will hopefully make sure you are on track. If you have completed the essay you can use these as a checklist.

1- What are the basic economic principles/features of Mercantilism? What did it recommend a government do? Use our lecture on mercantilism to answer this question and define mercantilism very clearly. Make sure that you highlight how mercantilist measured wealth.

Do not turn this into a discussion about the place of the colonies in the mercantilist system (that is a different issue outside of our scope.)

2- Once you have spelled out the basic economic features of mercantilism, consider the following questions: Where the sugar colonies profitable? Did they add to a nation’s wealth? You can use lecture as well as assigned readings to answer this and to find evidence and numbers.

3-If sugar is a valuable and sought-after commodity, what happens if a nation does not produce its own, but has to import it?

4-Starting with the Portuguese what model of sugar plantations had they established that had proven to be very profitable? In the planters’ minds were there alternatives different from slavery to get the labor force that plantations needed? Why did they consider African slaves the ideal workforce for these plantations?

Make sure that your thesis statement clearly makes an argument for a connection between mercantilism, sugar and the acceptance of slavery as, at the very least, a necessity.

As always be sure to cite and quote, and for the love of all that you hold dear, do NOT submit unoriginal work, you will most likely be caught and accordingly sanctioned!


Your essay should be no longer than 4 pages. Use 12 point script and please double space. Please utilize normal pre-set (1 inch) margins.

When citing the material, especially when using direct quotes, please use footnote citations. (In Word go to References and Footnote and then type your source information.) Works cited page is not a substitute for footnotes. If you need guidance or help with this please do not hesitate to come to visit with me or the TA’s.

Use Chicago Manual of Style for referencing. You can find brief guides readily available online.

Please use the assigned readings for this essay. Do not use outside sources.

Be sure to edit your work for spelling and grammar mistakes as well as organization and clarity.

File naming procedure is identical to the last assignment: Last name – First Name – Assignment II – WOH 2001

Send me or your TAs any questions you might have and we will do our best to answer them. I have given you two week to complete this assignment, please do a good job of it.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________The readings:

The first: “is an article from a London newspaper called ‘The Diary’ or ‘Woodfall’s Register’ which was published on Thursday 16th April, 1789.

In the late 1780s, there was a fiery debate in newspapers and magazines on the question of slavery. The West Indies Lobby (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) monitored abolitionist activities in newspapers and magazines and employed writers of their own to respond by circulating pro-slavery letters and articles in the same newspapers. This article attempts to persuade its readers of the economic benefits of slavery in the West Indies…Many pro-slavery campaigners played on paranoia about empire and indicated that the prosperity of the British Navy, the merchant navy and the Caribbean itself all depended on slavery. Destroy this slavery, they argued, and the British Empire (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) would collapse.”

Taken from: The Diary or Woodfall’s Register
Author / Creator: none
Publisher: none
Date: April 16 1789
Copyright: By permission of the British Library (Links to an external site.)

The Second reading is a one-page screen capture of an excerpt from a much longer article I had originally thought to assign you by William Blaker tilted “William Wilberforce on the Idea of ‘Negro’ Inferiority.” The article while interesting is a little bit dated, especially when it comes to its language/phrasing, so I decided to give you only the most relevant excerpt due to that.

“William Wilberforce on the Idea of ‘Negro’ Inferiority.”

William Baker

Journal of the History of Ideas

Vol. 31, No. 3 (Jul. – Sep., 1970), pp. 433-440 (8 pages)

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press (Links to an external site.)


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