At the same time, slavery was sharply declining in the upper South
of abolition in 1807 was the declining economic value of slavery
Important work that aims to show that leading British historians such as W. H. Lecky had preceded Williams in rejecting the traditional interpretation about British antislavery and abolition, focusing instead on a narrative of decline.
a comparison between the eric williams decline thesis …
While scholars agree that the plantation system was moribund by the late 19th century, there is general disagreement on the timing of its decline. and noted that the system was overheating from as early as the American War of Independence in 1776. Williams further argued that Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807 because the British West Indian colonies, with the use of enslaved labor, were inefficient and thus declined in profitability and importance to Britain. This interpretation of colonial inefficiency and decline has been the subject of criticism by many, most notably in , which argues that the colonies were highly efficient and productive enterprises even up to the time of abolition. The author posits that when Britain abolished the trade in 1807, it did so when the plantation system was operating at its zenith and sugar made up a large and increasing share of Britain’s overseas imports. Therefore, the decline of the British West Indian plantation system started after the Napoleonic Wars, and at a time when Britain was committed to the emancipation of slavery. Interest in the decline thesis has not dwindled and as such there have been important works that provide important surveys of the nuances in the historiography. examines the debate surrounding specific themes in William’s (), while brought a fresh perspective to the debate, by showing that the decline thesis was prominent in 19th-century British literature. contribute to the debate surrounding abolition with an important collection that examined the life and work of Williams. reflects on two important themes of the Williams thesis. provide coverage of some of the main themes on slavery and abolition.