This introductory chapter maps out the economic landscape of the Americas following the influx of slaves during the sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. First complementing and in most cases replacing indentured servants, enslaved workers from Africa cultivated the sugar, tobacco, indigo, cotton, and rice fields of the Anglo-American world. And while planters owned the land, hired overseers, and employed managers to maintain production, the process depended heavily upon the daily work of enslaved Africans. In the process, the Anglo-American colonies took on a distinctive African character and were deeply interconnected through trade and migration. Along with the movement of people came the flow of commercial goods and ideas across colonial borders. The forced migration of Africans to the British American colonies had its undeniably tragic dimensions, yet more than anyone else, planters reaped the fruits of this labor.
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