Nicholas RadburnJan 24, 2024
Traders in Men
Merchants and the Transformation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Yale University Press 2023
During the eighteenth century, Britain’s slave trade exploded in size. Formerly a small and geographically constricted business, the trade had, by the eve of the American Revolution, grown into an Atlantic-wide system through which fifty thousand men, women, and children were enslaved every year.
In Traders in Men: Merchants and the Transformation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Yale UP, 2023), Nicholas Radburn explains how thousands of slaving merchants in Africa, Britain, and the British Americas collectively created this cancerous system by devising highly efficient, but also violent, new business methods. African brokers developed commercial techniques that facilitated the enslavement and sale of millions of people. Britons invented shipping methods that quelled enslaved people’s constant resistance on the Middle Passage. And American slave traders formulated brutal techniques through which shiploads of people could be quickly sold to a variety of colonial buyers. Truly Atlantic-wide in its vision, this study shows how the slave trade became one of the most important phenomena in world history and dragged millions of people into the trade’s terrible vortex.
Katrina Anderson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Delaware.