Thompson viewed the plantation as a political institution in which the quasi-industrial production of agricultural staples abroad through race-making labor systems solidified and advanced European state power. His interpretation marks a turning point in the scientific study of an ancient agricultural institution, in which the plantation is seen as a pioneering instrument for the expansion of the global economy. Further, his awareness of the far-reaching history of economic globalization and of the conception of race as socially constructed predicts viewpoints that have since become standard. As such, this overlooked gem in American intellectual history is still deeply relevant for ongoing research and debate in social, economic, and political history.
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