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The Colonial Sinews of Imperial Power: The Political Economy of Jamaican Taxation, 1768–1838

Graham, AB; (2017) The Colonial Sinews of Imperial Power: The Political Economy of Jamaican Taxation, 1768–1838. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History , 45 (2) pp. 188-209. 10.1080/03086534.2017.1294787. Green open access

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Abstract

This article examines the links between slavery, the state and society in Jamaica between 1754 and 1839, using a new data-set to establish levels of taxation and spending between these dates. It argues that these levels were higher than has generally been accepted, both in absolute terms and relative to the size of the population and the economy, and that fiscal and military state structures were backed up by a sophisticated and effective system of public credit (from 1786) and paper money (from 1821). This all enabled the island to make an important but underrated contribution to British imperial power in the region in this period. Examining the nature of spending and taxation demonstrates, however, that they were accepted by local white elites because they went with the grain of ‘creole society’ in the island and served their priorities, in particular the management of the enslaved population. This proved effective until the early nineteenth century, when the economic burden grew so excessive that planters were unable to resist pressures for emancipation, suggesting that even failed slave revolts eventually helped to undermine the viability of the slave society in the West Indies.

Type: Article
Title: The Colonial Sinews of Imperial Power: The Political Economy of Jamaican Taxation, 1768–1838
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/03086534.2017.1294787
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03086534.2017.1294787
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Jamaica; state formation; empire; creole society; slaves; Emancipation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1529145
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