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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume II: The Eighteenth Century$
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P. J. Marshall and Alaine Low

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205630

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205630.001.0001

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The Black Experience in the British Empire, 1680–1810

The Black Experience in the British Empire, 1680–1810

(p.465) 21 The Black Experience in the British Empire, 1680–1810
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume II: The Eighteenth Century

Philip D. Morgan

Oxford University Press

During the ‘long’ 18th century, the black presence in the British Empire assumed formidable proportions. Between 1680 and 1810, the Empire’s black population rose elevenfold. Although most Africans arrived in the Empire as slaves, their experiences were not uniform. The black world in the Empire is described in this chapter. A survey of the black population at the beginning, middle, and end of the long 18th century highlights the changing distribution of blacks throughout the Empire. The 18th-century black world was multi-faceted. There was a majority experience — located on plantations— where in many ways slaves suffered a similar fate. The black experience varied most fundamentally depending on the nature of population growth, the type of employment, the size of the slave-holding unit, the level of material well-being, the quality of family life, encounters with whites, patterns of interaction among blacks, the extent of cultural autonomy, and the degree of resistance and accommodation to the system. There was no single black experience in the Empire.

Keywords:   British Empire, black population, Africans, black experience, slaves, cultural autonomy

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