The strength of British imperialism owes much to its central role in the Atlantic slave trade, a key element in the complex trading system it had developed by the eighteenth century. The West Indies number among the earliest and wealthiest of Britain’s overseas colonies, and it was here and in the settler colonies of America that new forms of labour –racialised slavery and indenture – were instituted. Slave economies in particular secured immense wealth not only for slave owners in the Empire but for many in Britain as well, supplying the needs of the trade through ship-building and other vital industries. The daily lives of slaves, the agitation for abolition and debates about the nature of commerce all feature in this chapter.