Scottish involvement with British colonial trade to the West Indies and North America brought it into contact with the developing system of transatlantic chattel slavery. Slavery provided the labour necessary for the production of the commodities such as sugar, tobacco, cotton and coffee, as well as rice and indigo, that began to generate rich profits for European planters. By the late eighteenth century, however, the rise of opposition to ‘British’ slavery in Scotland influenced the changing nature of Scottish society as Enlightenment ideas became less focused on ‘improvement’ and more about equality. By the nineteenth century, Scottish participation in the campaigns to end the slave trade and eventually slavery itself in the British Empire came to play a key role in the reinvention of the country as a modern society. Scotland was no longer a politically independent state or kingdom, but national identity instead became associated with an idea of moral mission. This was one reason why Scotland was so important in the development of the Liberal Party in the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century.
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