Thursday, April 9, 2015

Following the Money: Financing the Slave Trade

Following the Money: Financing the Slave Trade

Slavery and The slave-based tobacco economy that sustained the Chesapeake region was in deep crisis in the late-18th century and some Virginia leaders even talked about ending slavery. But technological innovations to process cotton soon gave new life to slavery, which would flourish in the new nation as never before.

Slave Ownership Patterns

Despite their numbers, slaves typically comprised a minority of the local population.

Only in antebellum South Carolina and Mississippi did slaves outnumber free persons. Most Southerners owned no slaves and most slaves lived in small groups rather than on large plantations. Less than one-quarter of white Southerners held slaves, with half of these holding fewer than five and fewer than 1 percent owning more than one hundred. In 1860, the average number of slaves residing together was about ten.~~ In the pre-Civil War United States, a stronger case can be made that slavery played a critical role in economic development. One crop, slave-grown cotton provided over half of all U.S. export earnings. By 1840, the South grew 60 percent of the world's cotton and provided some 70 percent of the cotton consumed by the British textile industry. Thus slavery paid for a substantial share of the capital, iron, and manufactured good that laid the basis for American economic growth. In addition, precisely because the South specialized in cotton production, the North developed a variety of businesses that provided services for the slave South, including textile factories, a meat processing industry, insurance companies, shippers, and cotton brokers.~~

By the time shots were fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861, cotton was the core ingredient of the world’s most important manufacturing industry.~~  {estimated} 20 million people worldwide—one out of every 65 people alive—were involved in the cultivation of cotton or the production of cotton cloth.

Seth Rockman, a historian at Brown University, himself at work on a book about how New England industries manufactured plantation goods, said Mr. Baptist had advanced the story by connecting “the day-to-day violence of plantation labor to the largest macroeconomic questions of the West’s economic takeoff in the 19th century.”

Several global financial institutions started off as slave profiteering firms before growing into multi-national behemoths of today.~~ JPMorgan, The predecessor to the Royal Bank of Scotland was a slaving enterprise promoted and maintained by the ruling elites of United Kingdom, Aetna, a billion dollar insurance company was involved in slave profiteering activities, New York Life Insurance  in 2002 donated documents about the insurance it sold to slave owners, 

N M Rothschild & Sons Bank in London was linked to slavery. The company that was one of the biggest names in the City of London had previously undisclosed links to slavery in the British colonies.

Brown Brothers-Harrimanis the oldest and largest private investment bank and securities firm in the United States, founded in 1818. USA Today found that the New York merchant bank of James and William Brown, currently known as Brown Bros. Harriman owned hundreds of enslaved Africans and financed the cotton economy by lending millions to southern planters, merchants and cotton brokers.

 Brown Brothers Harriman went from financing the slave trade to financing the industrial might that drove Hitler's rise to power.  Prescott Bush and George Herbert (Bert) Walker were directors of the London-affiliated New York banking house of Brown Brothers-Harriman and its various fronts, which funded and directed the military-industrial complex behind Hitler and the Nazi


Brown Brothers Harriman were also instrumental in funding the Eugenics Movement and establishing research facilities at Cold harbor NY.

n 1910, ~~~ the widow of railroad baron E.H Harriman donated $10,000 to establish the Eugenics Record Office.

In 2006 Tony Blair, prime minister, expressed “deep sorrow” for the UK’s role in the slave trade.
Lehman Brothers was started off as a brotherhood of slave dealers and their profiteers, Wachovia Bank, has also apologised for its predecessors having owned and profited from slaves. It set up a programme offering $1bn in loans for black car dealerships,  Yale University and Brown University has set up a commission to look into links with slavery and how it should make amends.

Mr. Baptist shows how the Bank of the United States (in which federal funds were deposited) was lending money to slave traders.

 Planters would mortgage their slaves to raise money, and those mortgages were sold to investors. Mr. Johnson also cited Mr. Baptist’s argument that huge increases in cotton-picking over the course of the antebellum period were due almost entirely to violence against slaves. Historians have often attributed that increase to the emergence of new, easier-to-pick strains of cotton and the cotton gin, Mr. Johnson said.
In England alone, which still counted two-thirds of the world’s mechanical spindles in its factories, the livelihood of between one-fifth and one-fourth of the population was based on the industry; one-tenth of all British capital was invested in it, and close to one-half of all exports consisted of cotton yarn and cloth.~~

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