Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Towards a Radical New Theory of Anglo-American Slavery, and Vindication of Free Markets

tags: slavery, historiography, Telegraph (UK), Ambrose Evans-Pritchard



Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is International Business Editor of The Daily Telegraph. He has covered world politics and economics for 30 years, based in Europe, the US, and Latin America. He joined the Telegraph in 1991, serving as Washington correspondent and later Europe correspondent in Brussels.

With luck it will help to vindicate the fathers of liberal government and the free market in the 17th and 18th Centuries, falsely accused until now of abetting - or promoting - the great crime of race-based African slavery.

For academic orthodoxy holds that John Locke and the great Whig thinkers of the Glorious Revolution (1688) helped to design and foster the economic system of hereditary slavery that shaped Atlantic capitalism for a century and a half.

From that it is but a step to dismiss the moral claims of liberalism as so much humbug, to write off all the talk of justice, natural rights, inviolable contracts and government by consent as the self-interested catechism of oppressors. As Samuel Johnson said acidly: "How is it we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?"

Except that this established version of events is not true. It is a near complete inversion of what happened, and this matters in all kinds of ways since the debate over slavery refuses to subside, even though the trade was abolished in 1808 and Empire slaves were freed in 1833....



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