Overview of Chapter O : This Scottish businessman epitomizes the interconnectivity of the Atlantic world in the eighteenth century, as well as the horrors that unity produced. Oswald established his own triangular trade by owning a slave station in Sierra Leone, a plantation in Florida, and an office in London. This, combined with his other financial arrangements, including Oswald’s contract to provide supplies during the Seven Years’ War in Europe, made him a wealthy man. It also made him someone who benefited from the misery of others. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Oswald’s role as the chief British negotiator in the Peace of Paris (1783) that ended the American Revolution.
1. Was it possible to be in business in the 18th century and not be complicit in the slave trade? If all were complicit, what would be the modern equivalent today?
2. British billionaire Richard Branson maintains that “succeeding in business is all about making connections.” Is this unique to business or does it apply to other professions as well?
3. Can Oswald be admired or is he worthy of nothing but scorn?
1. Using the data available in the slavevoyages.org website, construct a narrative of a particular ship, or a particular captain.
3. Assume that Oswald was able to negotiate a peace with the Americans from a position of greater strength because of better Parliamentary leadership or world events. Make a prioritized list of the things Oswald should have sought in his negotiations with Benjamin Franklin and John Jay.
4. Examine how sugar is produced and consumed today.
• This article details some of the ways Sierra Leone remained important in Atlantic trade even after the British ended their participation in the slave trade. It helps fill in the picture of what happened in the region once Bance Island ceased operations.
See: Everill Bronwen, “For the Services of Shipwrights, Coopers, and Grumettas”: Freetown’s Ship Repair Cluster in Nineteenth-Century Sierra Leone,” SAGE Choice Open Access, August 13, 2020
• Chapter 3 of this this new book discusses the Treaty of Paris at length.. See: Michael S. Kochin and Michael Taylor, An Independent Empire: Diplomacy & War in the Making of the United States (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2020), 43-58, https://books.google.com
Map for Chapter O: This map by the author is in the print edition of the book and shows trans-Atlantic world locations that were important to Oswald.
This tobacco curing barn (c. 1870) is on the Duke Homestead near Durham, North Carolina. In Oswald's time, tobacco was air dried in barns, but by the mid-19th century, the drying process was enhanced by a carefully-tended fire. This resulted in a milder tobacco, known as BrightLeaf tobacco. Photograph by the author, April 2019.
This photograph shows the interior of that same curing barn and the tobacco leaves drying. Photograph by the author, April 2019.
This is a detail of the tobacco leaves drying. These dry leaves are very brittle and need to be re-moistened before packing. Otherwise, the tobacco would turn to dust during shipment. Photograph by the author, April 2019.
This Pack House with a dirt floor is also on the Duke Homestead; it was built about 1901. This is where the tobacco leaves would be stored while moisture from the ground seeped into the leaves. In Oswald's time, owners of tobacco farms would have had a barn for this purpose too. Photograph by the author, April 2019.