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416 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 7 halftones, 11 figures, 7 maps, 26 tables, appends., notes, index

Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia

ISBN  978-1-4696-1534-9
Published: September 2014

ISBN  978-1-4696-2984-1
Published: August 2016

Final Passages

The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619-1807

By Gregory E. O'Malley

Awards & Distinctions

2015 Elsa Goveia Book Prize, Association of Caribbean Historians

2015 Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Award, Southern Historical Association

2015 James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History, American Historical Association

2015 Morris D. Forkosch Prize, American Historical Association

This work explores a neglected aspect of the forced migration of African laborers to the Americas. Hundreds of thousands of captive Africans continued their journeys after the Middle Passage across the Atlantic. Colonial merchants purchased and then transshipped many of these captives to other colonies for resale. Not only did this trade increase death rates and the social and cultural isolation of Africans; it also fed the expansion of British slavery and trafficking of captives to foreign empires, contributing to Britain's preeminence in the transatlantic slave trade by the mid-eighteenth century. The pursuit of profits from exploiting enslaved people as commodities facilitated exchanges across borders, loosening mercantile restrictions and expanding capitalist networks.

Drawing on a database of over seven thousand intercolonial slave trading voyages compiled from port records, newspapers, and merchant accounts, O'Malley identifies and quantifies the major routes of this intercolonial slave trade. He argues that such voyages were a crucial component in the development of slavery in the Caribbean and North America and that trade in the unfree led to experimentation with free trade between empires.

About the Author

Gregory E. O'Malley is associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


“A new and arresting perspective on the British slave trade in the early modern world.”-Choice

“A refreshing and authoritative history of the English slave trade.”
--The Journal of American History

“A useful book for any scholar who studies colonial British North America.”
--Business History Review

“Important scholarly insights to our collective understanding of the Atlantic slave trade, and, more broadly, Atlantic slavery, continue to arrive with increasing frequency every year. Few, however, are as likely to provide such major quantitative contributions and qualitative insights as Greg O’Malley’s exemplary first book, Final Passages.”
--Journal of British Studies

“Groundbreaking...enhances the scope and complexity of our understanding of the slave trade.”
--The New England Quarterly

“With the publication of Final Passages, the historiography of the intra-American slave trade has made a giant leap forward.”
--William and Mary Quarterly

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