Write a 2-3 page essay on the following:
Based upon a combination
of primary and secondary sources, your goal is to critically reconstruct some of the problems of
‘commerce’, as it was carried out by European states, England in particular, in
the Atlantic economy and in South Asia (India).
Refer to the two accompanying
primary documents (below), the first a brief excerpt from Thomas
Mun’s book, written in the 1630s, English
Treasure by Foreign Trade; the second entitled “A Slave Trader Describes
the Atlantic Passage” (1690s), which was a journal entry by a slave trader.
Mun was one of the top
directors of the British East India Company, whose commercial pursuits are
widely recognized to have led to the establishment of British imperial
dominance over India.
*Based on careful and critical readings of the
documents, and Robert W. Strayers book “Ways of the World”, how do you view the realities of
‘commerce’ in the early modern world? From your big-picture knowledge gained
from this course, what historical changes, institutions, interests and beliefs
were the essential parts that came together to create and drive both the slave
trade and the growth of the British empire in India?
Your essay must include a clear thesis statement, 1
to 3 sentences long, that articulates and summarizes the main points of your
To document any quotes you use from the
accompanying documents, just cite it as ‘Phillips’ or ‘Mun’. You can keep the citation in the text instead
of using a footnote, but put it in parentheses.
Any material or quotations you use from the Strayer book should be
documented in line with the following model: Strayer, pp. xy. Those citations can also be either in the
text or in footnotes.
Each essay must have the following: an intelligent
title, 12 pt font, double-spacing and normal margins.
Focus on the clarity and quality of all of the following: critical
analysis, argument, use of evidence, insight, and writing.”
No Plagiarism please.
Mun (1571-1641) was one of the directors of the British East
India Company, one of the largest companies engaged in colonial trade. His
book, England’s Treasure by Foreign Trade, was
written in the 1630s. Here is the brief
many Countries which may yield us very profitable trade for our money, which
otherwise afford us no trade at all, because they have no use of our wares, as
namely the East Indies (India) for one…, although since by industry in our
commerce with those Nations we have brought them into the use of much of our
Lead, Cloth, Tin, and other things, which is a good addition to the former vent
of our commodities.”
2. A Slave Trader Describes the Atlantic
During 1693 and 1694, Captain Thomas
Phillips carried slaves from Africa to Barbados on the ship Hannibal. The financial backer of the voyage was the Royal
African Company of London, which held an English crown monopoly on slave
trading. Phillips sailed to the west coast of Africa, where he purchased the
Africans who were sold into slavery by an African king. Then he set sail
following is excerpted from his Journal:
bought my complement of 700 slaves, 480 men and 220 women, and finish’d all my
business at Whidaw [on the Gold Coast of Africa], I took my leave of the old
king and his cappasheirs [attendants], and parted, with many affectionate
expressions on both sides, being forced to promise him that I would return
again the next year, with several things he desired me to bring from England. .
. . I set sail the 27th of July in the morning…for the Island of St. Thomas. .
. from which we took our departure on August 25th and set sail for Barbadoes.
spent in our passage from St. Thomas to Barbadoes two months eleven days…in
which time there happened such: sickness and mortality among my poor men and
Negroes. Of the first we buried 14, and of the last 320, which was a great
detriment to our voyage, the Royal African Company losing ten pounds by every
slave that died, and the owners of the ship ten pounds ten shillings, being the
freight agreed on to be paid by the charter-party for every Negro delivered
alive ashore to the African Company’s agents at Barbadoes. . . . The loss in
all amounted to near 6500 pounds sterling.
The distemper which my men as well as the blacks
mostly died of was the white flux (dysentery), which was so violent and
inveterate that no medicine would in the least check it, so that when any of
our men were seized with it, we esteemed him a dead man, as he generally
proved. . . . The Negroes are so
incident to the smallpox that few ships that carry them escape without it, and
sometimes it makes vast havock and destruction among them. But tho’ we had 100 at a time sick of it, and
that it went thro’ the ship, yet we lost not above a dozen by it. All the
assistance we gave the diseased was only as much water as they desir’d to
drink, and some palm-oil to anoint their sores, and they would generally
recover without any other helps but what kind nature gave them…
what the smallpox spar’d, the flux swept off, to our great regret, after all
our pains and care to give them their messes in due order and season, keeping
their lodgings as clean and sweet as possible, and enduring so much misery and
stench so long among a parcel of creatures nastier than swine, and after all
our expectations to be defeated by their mortality…
gold-finders can endure so much noisome slavery as they do who carry Negroes;
for those have some respite and satisfaction, but we endure twice the misery;
and yet by their mortality our voyages are ruin’d, and wepine and fret ourselves to death, and take so much pains to so
“Thomas Phillips’s Journal”, from A Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol, VI, ed. by Awnsham and
John Churchill (London, 1746), as quoted in Thomas Howard, ed., Black
Voyage: Eyewitness Accounts of the Atlantic Slave Trade (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1971), pp. 85-87.