Edexcel AS/A Level History, Paper 1&2: Challenges to the authority of the state in the late 18th and 19th centuries ActiveBook

  • Created by: Hezzy
  • Created on: 01-03-19 09:30
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  • Eric Williams and the 'Decline Thesis'
    • Believed that economic interests was the motivation for any action that has been undertaken by any movement
    • Took a very critical view of the abolitionists and particularly their 'sanity' image
    • Believed that abolitionists were selective with their efforts
      • If they were truly motivated by Humanitarianism, they would look into other crimes
        • Working conditions in the mines or the poverty of the working class for example
    • The growth of mechanisation
      • transformed the nature of British commerce
      • Ushered in a 'greater preference' for paid labour
    • The 'Decline Thesis' has been comprehensively challenged
      • Found to be less persuasive in recent histores
        • weakness of his argument lies in his claim that economic considerations were the primary motive for abolition and that every action is motivated by it
    • Contended that the slave trade was challenged in the late 1700s because it was becoming unprofitable for those engaged with it
      • As profits declined it became easier to criticise the slave trade
        • Easier to promote alternative systems of the industrial age
    • When profits were high (early 1700s)
      • There was NO effort to abolish either slavery OR the slave trade
    • This polemical approach reduces the importance of other factors
      • By focusing INTENTLY upon one feature, opens itself up to criticism
        • Seymour Drescher
          • Has challenged the central idea
          • Showed how abolishing the trade actually did more to undermine the slave economy
            • Rather than Williams' contention that abolition was motivated because of this decilne
          • Supported the importance that Williams placed upon ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS
            • Endorsed the work as a seminal text
              • Encouraged a more subtle consideration as to why the slave trade was abolished


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