front cover of Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa, and the Atlantic
Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa, and the Atlantic
Derek R. Peterson
Ohio University Press, 2010

The abolition of the slave trade is normally understood to be the singular achievement of eighteenth-century British liberalism. Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa, and the Atlantic expands both the temporal and the geographic framework in which the history of abolitionism is conceived. Abolitionism was a theater in which a variety of actors—slaves, African rulers, Caribbean planters, working-class radicals, British evangelicals, African political entrepreneurs—played a part. The Atlantic was an echo chamber, in which abolitionist symbols, ideas, and evidence were generated from a variety of vantage points. These essays highlight the range of political and moral projects in which the advocates of abolitionism were engaged, and in so doing it joins together geographies that are normally studied in isolation.

Where empires are often understood to involve the government of one people over another, Abolitionism and Imperialism shows that British values were formed, debated, and remade in the space of empire. Africans were not simply objects of British liberals’ benevolence. They played an active role in shaping, and extending, the values that Britain now regards as part of its national character. This book is therefore a contribution to the larger scholarship about the nature of modern empires.

Contributors: Christopher Leslie Brown, Seymour Drescher, Jonathon Glassman, Boyd Hilton, Robin Law, Phillip D. Morgan, Derek R. Peterson, John K. Thornton

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Africans in the Old South
Mapping Exceptional Lives across the Atlantic World
Randy J. Sparks
Harvard University Press, 2016

The Atlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in history, and its toll in lives damaged or destroyed is incalculable. Most of those stories are lost to history, making the few that can be reconstructed critical to understanding the trade in all its breadth and variety. Randy J. Sparks examines the experiences of a range of West Africans who lived in the American South between 1740 and 1860. Their stories highlight the diversity of struggles that confronted every African who arrived on American shores.

The subjects of Africans in the Old South include Elizabeth Cleveland Hardcastle, the mixed-race daughter of an African slave-trading family who invested in South Carolina rice plantations and slaves, passed as white, and integrated herself into the Lowcountry planter elite; Robert Johnson, kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Georgia, who later learned English, won his freedom, and joined the abolition movement in the North; Dimmock Charlton, who bought his freedom after being illegally enslaved in Savannah; and a group of unidentified Africans who were picked up by a British ship in the Caribbean, escaped in Mobile’s port, and were recaptured and eventually returned to their homeland.

These exceptional lives challenge long-held assumptions about how the slave trade operated and who was involved. The African Atlantic was a complex world characterized by constant movement, intricate hierarchies, and shifting identities. Not all Africans who crossed the Atlantic were enslaved, nor was the voyage always one-way.

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Afro-Atlantic Flight
Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic
Michelle D. Commander
Duke University Press, 2017
In Afro-Atlantic Flight Michelle D. Commander traces how post-civil rights Black American artists, intellectuals, and travelers envision literal and figurative flight back to Africa as a means by which to heal the dispossession caused by the slave trade. Through ethnographic, historical, literary, and filmic analyses, Commander shows the ways that cultural producers such as Octavia Butler, Thomas Allen Harris, and Saidiya Hartman engage with speculative thought about slavery, the spiritual realm, and Africa, thereby structuring the imaginary that propels future return flights.  She goes on to examine Black Americans’ cultural heritage tourism in and migration to Ghana; Bahia, Brazil; and various sites of slavery in the US South to interrogate the ways that a cadre of actors produces “Africa” and contests master narratives. Compellingly, these material flights do not always satisfy Black Americans’ individualistic desires for homecoming and liberation, leading Commander to focus on the revolutionary possibilities inherent in psychic speculative returns and to argue for the development of a Pan-Africanist stance that works to more effectively address the contemporary resonances of slavery that exist across the Afro-Atlantic.
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The Anthropology of Slavery
The Womb of Iron and Gold
Claude Meillassoux
University of Chicago Press, 1991
This controversial examination of precolonial African slavery looks at the various social systems that made slavery on such a scale possible and argues that the institutions of slavery were far more complex and pervasive than previously suspected.
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The Archaeology of Slavery
A Comparative Approach to Captivity and Coercion
Edited by Lydia Wilson Marshall
Southern Illinois University Press, 2014

Plantation sites, especially those in the southeastern United States, have long dominated the archaeological study of slavery. These antebellum estates, however, are not representative of the range of geographic locations and time periods in which slavery has occurred. As archaeologists have begun to investigate slavery in more diverse settings, the need for a broader interpretive framework is now clear.

The Archaeology of Slavery: A Comparative Approach to Captivity and Coercion, edited by Lydia Wilson Marshall, develops an interregional and cross-temporal framework for the interpretation of slavery. Contributors consider how to define slavery, identify it in the archaeological record, and study it as a diachronic process from enslavement to emancipation and beyond.

Essays cover the potential material representations of slavery, slave owners’ strategies of coercion and enslaved people’s methods of resisting this coercion, and the legacies of slavery as confronted by formerly enslaved people and their descendants. Among the peoples, sites, and periods examined are a late nineteenth-century Chinese laborer population in Carlin, Nevada; a castle slave habitation at San Domingo and a more elite trading center at nearby Juffure in the Gambia; two eighteenth-century plantations in Dominica; Benin’s Hueda Kingdom in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; plantations in Zanzibar; and three fugitive slave sites on Mauritius—an underground lava tunnel, a mountain, and a karst cave.

This essay collection seeks to analyze slavery as a process organized by larger economic and social forces with effects that can be both durable and wide-ranging. It presents a comparative approach that significantly enriches our understanding of slavery.

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The Atlantic Slave Trade
A Census
Philip D. Curtin
University of Wisconsin Press, 1972

Curtin combines modern research and statistical methods with his broad knowledge of the field to present the first book-length quantitative analysis of the Atlantic slave trade.  Its basic evidence suggests revision of currently held opinions concerning the place of the slave trade in the economies of the Old World nations and their American colonies.

“Curtin’s work will not only be the starting point for all future research on the slave trade and comparative slavery, but will become an indispensable reference for anyone interested in Afro-American studies.”—Journal of American History

“Curtin has produced a stimulating monograph, the product of immaculate scholarship, against which all past and future studies will have to be judged.”—Journal of American Studies

“Professor Curtin’s new book is up to his customary standard of performance: within the limits he set for himself, The Atlantic Slave Trade could hardly be a better or more important book.”—American Historical Review

 

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The Atlantic Slave Trade
Effects on Economies, Societies and Peoples in Africa, the Americas, and Europe
Joseph E. Inikori and Stanley L. Engerman
Duke University Press, 1992
Debates over the economic, social, and political meaning of slavery and the slave trade have persisted for over two hundred years. The Atlantic Slave Trade brings clarity and critical insight to the subject. In fourteen essays, leading scholars consider the nature and impact of the transatlantic slave trade and assess its meaning for the people transported and for those who owned them.
Among the questions these essays address are: the social cost to Africa of this forced migration; the role of slavery in the economic development of Europe and the United States; the short-term and long-term effects of the slave trade on black mortality, health, and life in the New World; and the racial and cultural consequences of the abolition of slavery. Some of these essays originally appeared in recent issues of Social Science History; the editors have added new material, along with an introduction placing each essay in the context of current debates.
Based on extensive archival research and detailed historical examination, this collection constitutes an important contribution to the study of an issue of enduring significance. It is sure to become a standard reference on the Atlantic slave trade for years to come.

Contributors. Ralph A. Austen, Ronald Bailey, William Darity, Jr., Seymour Drescher, Stanley L. Engerman, David Barry Gaspar, Clarence Grim, Brian Higgins, Jan S. Hogendorn, Joseph E. Inikori, Kenneth Kiple, Martin A. Klein, Paul E. Lovejoy, Patrick Manning, Joseph C. Miller, Johannes Postma, Woodruff Smith, Thomas Wilson

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Barbaric Traffic
Commerce and Antislavery in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World
Philip Gould
Harvard University Press, 2003

Eighteenth-century antislavery writers attacked the slave trade as "barbaric traffic"--a practice that would corrupt the mien and manners of Anglo-American culture to its core. Less concerned with slavery than with the slave trade in and of itself, these writings expressed a moral uncertainty about the nature of commercial capitalism. This is the argument Philip Gould advances in Barbaric Traffic. A major work of cultural criticism, the book constitutes a rethinking of the fundamental agenda of antislavery writing from pre-revolutionary America to the end of the British and American slave trades in 1808.

Studying the rhetoric of various antislavery genres--from pamphlets, poetry, and novels to slave narratives and the literature of disease--Gould exposes the close relation between antislavery writings and commercial capitalism. By distinguishing between good commerce, or the importing of commodities that refined manners, and bad commerce, like the slave trade, the literature offered both a critique and an outline of acceptable forms of commercial capitalism. A challenge to the premise that objections to the slave trade were rooted in modern laissez-faire capitalism, Gould's work revises--and expands--our understanding of antislavery literature as a form of cultural criticism in its own right.

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Bartolomé de las Casas and the Defense of Amerindian Rights
A Brief History with Documents
Edited by Lawrence A. Clayton and David M. Lantigua
University of Alabama Press, 2020
An accessible reader of both popular and largely unavailable writings of Bartolomé de las Casas
 
With the exception of Christopher Columbus, Bartolomé de las Casas is arguably the most notable figure of the Encounter Age. He is remembered principally as the creator of the Black Legend, as well as the protector of American Indians. He was one of the pioneers of the human rights movement, and a Christian activist who invoked law and Biblical scripture to challenge European colonialism in the great age of the Encounter. He was also one of the first and most thorough chroniclers of the conquest, and a biographer who saved the diary of Columbus’s first voyage for posterity by transcribing it in his History of the Indies before the diary was lost.
 
Bartolomé de las Casas and the Defense of Amerindian Rights: A Brief History with Documents provides the most wide-ranging and concise anthology of Las Casas’s writings, in translation, ever made available. It contains not only excerpts from his most well-known texts, but also his largely unavailable writings on political philosophy and law, and addresses the underappreciated aspects of his thought. Fifteen of the twenty-six documents are entirely new translations of Las Casas’s writings, a number of them appearing in English for the first time.
 
This volume focuses on his historical, political, and legal writings that address the deeply conflicted and violent sixteenth-century encounter between Europeans and indigenous peoples of the Americas. It also presents Las Casas as a more comprehensive and systematic philosophical and legal thinker than he is typically given credit for. The introduction by Lawrence A. Clayton and David M. Lantigua places these writings into a synthetic whole, tracing his advocacy for indigenous peoples throughout his career. By considering Las Casas’s ideas, actions, and even regrets in tandem, readers will understand the historical dynamics of Spanish imperialism more acutely within the social-political context of the times.
 
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The Blind African Slave
Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffrey Brace
Jeffrey Brace, as told to Benjamin F. Prentiss, Esq.
University of Wisconsin Press, 2005
The Blind African Slave recounts the life of Jeffrey Brace (né Boyrereau Brinch), who was born in West Africa around 1742. Captured by slave traders at the age of sixteen, Brace was transported to Barbados, where he experienced the shock and trauma of slave-breaking and was sold to a New England ship captain. After fighting as an enslaved sailor for two years in the Seven Years War, Brace was taken to New Haven, Connecticut, and sold into slavery. After several years in New England, Brace enlisted in the Continental Army in hopes of winning his manumission. After five years of military service, he was honorably discharged and was freed from slavery. As a free man, he chose in 1784 to move to Vermont, the first state to make slavery illegal. There, he met and married an African woman, bought a farm, and raised a family. Although literate, he was blind when he decided to publish his life story, which he narrated to a white antislavery lawyer, Benjamin Prentiss, who published it in 1810. Upon his death in 1827, Brace was a well-respected abolitionist. In this first new edition since 1810, Kari J. Winter provides a historical introduction, annotations, and original documents that verify and supplement our knowledge of Brace's life and times.
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Castaway
Yvette Christiansë
Duke University Press, 1999
In Castaway Yvette Christiansë presents an epic yet fragmented poetic story set off the coast of Africa on the island of St. Helena: Napoleon Bonaparte’s final place of exile, a port of call for the slave trade, and birthplace of the poet’s grandmother. Amid echoes of racialized identity and issues of displacement, the poems in Castaway speak with a multiplicity of voices—from Ferñao Lopez (the island’s first exile) and Napoleon to that of a contemporary black woman. Castaway is simultaneously a song of discovery, an anthem of conquest, and a tortured lamentation of exiles and slaves.
Instead of offering a linear narrative, Christiansë renders the poems as if they were emerging from the pages of imaginary books, documents now disrupted and scattered. An emperor’s point of view is juxtaposed with the perspectives of various explorers, sailors, and unknown slaves until finally they all open upon the book’s “castaway,” the authorial female voice that negotiates a way to write about love and desire after centuries of oppression and exploitation.
Daring and sophisticated, Castaway challenges and captivates the reader with not only its lyrical richness and conceptual depth but also its implicit and haunting reflections on diaspora and postcolonialism. It will be highly regarded by readers and writers of poetry and will appeal to those engaged with issues of race, gender, exile, multiculturalism, colonialism, and history.
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Children of Hope
The Odyssey of the Oromo Slaves from Ethiopia to South Africa
Sandra Rowoldt Shell
Ohio University Press, 2018
In Children of Hope, Sandra Rowoldt Shell traces the lives of sixty-four Oromo children who were enslaved in Ethiopia in the late-nineteenth century, liberated by the British navy, and ultimately sent to Lovedale Institution, a Free Church of Scotland mission in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, for their safety. Because Scottish missionaries in Yemen interviewed each of the Oromo children shortly after their liberation, we have sixty-four structured life histories told by the children themselves. In the historiography of slavery and the slave trade, first passage narratives are rare, groups of such narratives even more so. In this analytical group biography (or prosopography), Shell renders the experiences of the captives in detail and context that are all the more affecting for their dispassionate presentation. Comparing the children by gender, age, place of origin, method of capture, identity, and other characteristics, Shell enables new insights unlike anything in the existing literature for this region and period. Children of Hope is supplemented by graphs, maps, and illustrations that carefully detail the demographic and geographic layers of the children’s origins and lives after capture. In this way, Shell honors the individual stories of each child while also placing them into invaluable and multifaceted contexts.
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Chocolate on Trial
Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business
Lowell J. Satre
Ohio University Press, 2005

At the turn of the twentieth century, Cadbury Bros. Ltd. was a successful, Quaker-owned chocolate manufacturer in Birmingham, England, celebrated for its model village, modern factory, and concern for employees. In 1901 the firm learned that its cocoa beans, purchased from Portuguese plantations on the island of São Tomé off West Africa, were produced by slave labor.

Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business is a lively and highly readable account of the events surrounding the libel trial in which Cadbury Bros. sued the London Standard over the newspaper’s accusation that the firm was hypocritical in its use of slave-grown cocoa. Lowell J. Satre probes issues as compelling now as they were a century ago: globalization, corporate social responsibility, journalistic sensationalism, and devious diplomacy.

Satre illuminates the stubborn persistence of the institution of slavery and shows how Cadbury, a company with a well-regarded brand name from the nineteenth century, faced ethical dilemmas and challenges to its record for social responsibility. Chocolate on Trial brings to life the age-old conflict between economic interests and regard for the dignity of human life.

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Clotilda
The History and Archaeology of the Last Slave Ship
James P. Delgado, Deborah E. Marx, Kyle Lent, Joseph Grinnan, and Alexander DeCaro
University of Alabama Press, 2023
Documents the maritime historical research and archaeological fieldwork used to identify the wreck of the notorious schooner Clotilda

Clotilda: The History and Archaeology of the Last Slave Ship is the first definitive work to examine the maritime historical and archaeological record of one of the most infamous ships in American history. Clotilda was owned by Alabama businessman Timothy Meaher, who, on a dare, equipped it to carry captured Africans from what is now Benin and bring them to Alabama in 1860—some fifty years after the import of captives to be enslaved was banned. To hide the evidence, Clotilda was set afire and sunk.

What remained was a substantially intact, submerged, and partially buried shipwreck located in a backwater of the Mobile River. The site of the wreck was an open secret to some people who knew Meaher, but its identity remained unknown for more than a century as various surveys through the years failed to locate the ship.

This volume, authored by the archaeological team who conducted a comprehensive, systematic survey of a forgotten “ship graveyard,” details the exhaustive forensic work that conclusively identified the wreck, as well as the stories and secrets that have emerged from the partly burned hulk. James P. Delgado and his coauthors discuss the various searches for Clotilda, sharing the forensic data and other analyses showing how those involved concluded that this wreck was indeed Clotilda. Additionally, they offer physical evidence not previously shared that situates the schooner and its voyage in a larger context of the slave trade.

Clotilda: The History and Archaeology of the Last Slave Ship serves as a nautical biography of the ship as well. After reviewing the maritime trade in and out of Mobile Bay, this account places Clotilda within the larger landscape of American and Gulf of Mexico schooners and chronicles its career before being used as a slave ship. All of its voyages had a link to slavery, and one may have been another smuggling voyage in violation of federal law. The authors have also painstakingly reconstructed Clotilda’s likely appearance and characteristics.
 
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The Dutch Atlantic
Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation
Kwame Nimako and Glenn Willemsen
Pluto Press, 2011

The Dutch Atlantic interrogates the Dutch involvement in Atlantic slavery and assesses the historical consequences of this for contemporary European society.

Kwame Nimako and Glenn Willemsen show how the slave trade and slavery intertwined economic, social and cultural elements, including nation-state formation in the Netherlands and across Europe. They explore the mobilisation of European populations in the implementation of policies that facilitated Atlantic slavery and examine how European countries created and expanded laws that perpetuated colonisation.

Addressing key themes such as the incorporation of the formerly enslaved into post-slavery states and contemporary collective efforts to forget and/or remember slavery and its legacy in the Netherlands, this is an essential text for students of European history and postcolonial studies.

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Economic Change in Precolonial Africa
Supplementary Evidence
Philip D. Curtin
University of Wisconsin Press

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Emergent Masculinities
Gendered Power and Social Change in the Biafran Atlantic Age
Ndubueze L. Mbah
Ohio University Press, 2019

In Emergent Masculinities, Ndubueze L. Mbah argues that the Bight of Biafra region’s Atlanticization—or the interaction between regional processes and Atlantic forces such as the slave trade, colonialism, and Christianization—between 1750 and 1920 transformed gender into the primary mode of social differentiation in the region. He incorporates over 250 oral narratives of men and women across a range of social roles and professions with material culture practices, performance traditions, slave ship data, colonial records, and more to reveal how Africans channeled the socioeconomic forces of the Atlantic world through their local ideologies and practices. The gendered struggles over the means of social reproduction conditioned the Bight of Biafra region’s participation in Atlantic systems of production and exchange, and defined the demography of the region’s forced diaspora. By looking at male and female constructions of masculinity and sexuality as major indexes of social change, Emergent Masculinities transforms our understanding of the role of gender in precolonial Africa and fills a major gap in our knowledge of a broader set of theoretical and comparative issues linked to the slave trade and the African diaspora.

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Eurafricans in Western Africa
Commerce, Social Status, Gender, and Religious Observance from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century
George E. Brooks
Ohio University Press, 2003

Eurafricans in Western Africa traces the rich social and commercial history of western Africa. The most comprehensive study to date, it begins prior to the sixteenth century when huge profits made by middlemen on trade in North African slaves, salt, gold, pepper, and numerous other commodities prompted Portuguese reconnaissance voyages along the coast of western Africa. From Senegal to Sierra Leone, Portuguese, including “New Christians” who reverted to Judaism while living in western Africa, thrived where riverine and caravan networks linked many African groups.

Portuguese and their Luso-African descendants contended with French, Dutch, and English rivals for trade in gold, ivory, slaves, cotton textiles, iron bars, cowhides, and other African products. As the Atlantic slave trade increased, French and Franco-Africans and English and Anglo-Africans supplanted Portuguese and Luso-Africans in many African places of trade.

Eurafricans in Western Africa follows the changes that took root in the eighteenth century when French and British colonial officials introduced European legal codes, and concludes with the onset of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, when suppression of the slave trade and expanding commerce in forest and agricultural commodities again transformed circumstances in western Africa.

Professor George E. Brooks’s outstanding history of these vital aspects of western Africa is enriched by his discussion of the roles of the women who married or cohabited with European traders. Through accounts of incidents and personal histories, which are integrated into the narrative, the lives of these women and their children are accorded a prominent place in Professor Brooks’s fascinating discussion of this dynamic region of Africa.

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European Slave Trading in the Indian Ocean, 1500–1850
Richard B. Allen
Ohio University Press, 2015

Between 1500 and 1850, European traders shipped hundreds of thousands of African, Indian, Malagasy, and Southeast Asian slaves to ports throughout the Indian Ocean world. The activities of the British, Dutch, French, and Portuguese traders who operated in the Indian Ocean demonstrate that European slave trading was not confined largely to the Atlantic but must now be viewed as a truly global phenomenon. European slave trading and abolitionism in the Indian Ocean also led to the development of an increasingly integrated movement of slave, convict, and indentured labor during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the consequences of which resonated well into the twentieth century.

Richard B. Allen’s magisterial work dramatically expands our understanding of the movement of free and forced labor around the world. Drawing upon extensive archival research and a thorough command of published scholarship, Allen challenges the modern tendency to view the Indian and Atlantic oceans as self-contained units of historical analysis and the attendant failure to understand the ways in which the Indian Ocean and Atlantic worlds have interacted with one another. In so doing, he offers tantalizing new insights into the origins and dynamics of global labor migration in the modern world.

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Feeding Globalization
Madagascar and the Provisioning Trade, 1600–1800
Jane Hooper
Ohio University Press, 2017

Between 1600 and 1800, the promise of fresh food attracted more than seven hundred English, French, and Dutch vessels to Madagascar. Throughout this period, European ships spent months at sea in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, but until now scholars have not fully examined how crews were fed during these long voyages. Without sustenance from Madagascar, European traders would have struggled to transport silver to Asia and spices back to Europe. Colonies in Mozambique, Mauritius, and at the Cape relied upon frequent imports from Madagascar to feed settlers and slaves.

In Feeding Globalization, Jane Hooper draws on challenging and previously untapped sources to analyze Madagascar’s role in provisioning European trading networks within and ultimately beyond the Indian Ocean. The sale of food from the island not only shaped trade routes and colonial efforts but also encouraged political centralization and the slave trade in Madagascar. Malagasy people played an essential role in supporting European global commerce, with far-reaching effects on their communities.

Feeding Globalization reshapes our understanding of Indian Ocean and global history by insisting historians should pay attention to the role that food played in supporting other exchanges.

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Fighting the Slave Trade
West African Strategies
Sylviane A. Diouf
Ohio University Press, 2003

While most studies of the slave trade focus on the volume of captives and on their ethnic origins, the question of how the Africans organized their familial and communal lives to resist and assail it has not received adequate attention. But our picture of the slave trade is incomplete without an examination of the ways in which men and women responded to the threat and reality of enslavement and deportation.

Fighting the Slave Trade is the first book to explore in a systematic manner the strategies Africans used to protect and defend themselves and their communities from the onslaught of the Atlantic slave trade and how they assaulted it.

It challenges widely held myths of African passivity and general complicity in the trade and shows that resistance to enslavement and to involvement in the slave trade was much more pervasive than has been acknowledged by the orthodox interpretation of historical literature.

Focused on West Africa, the essays collected here examine in detail the defensive, protective, and offensive strategies of individuals, families, communities, and states. In chapters discussing the manipulation of the environment, resettlement, the redemption of captives, the transformation of social relations, political centralization, marronage, violent assaults on ships and entrepôts, shipboard revolts, and controlled participation in the slave trade as a way to procure the means to attack it, Fighting the Slave Trade presents a much more complete picture of the West African slave trade than has previously been available.

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Freebooters and Smugglers
The Foreign Slave Trade in the United States after 1808
Ernest Obadele-Starks
University of Arkansas Press, 2007
In 1891 a young W. E. B. DuBois addressed the annual American Historical Association on the enforcement of slave trade laws: “Northern greed joined to Southern credulity was a combination calculated to circumvent any law, human or divine.” One law in particular he was referring to was the Abolition Act of 1808. It was specifically passed to end the foreign slave trade. However, as Ernest Obadele-Starks shows, thanks to profiteering smugglers like the Lafitte brothers and the Bowie brothers, the slave trade persisted throughout the south for a number of years after the law was passed. Freebooters and Smugglers examines the tactics and strategies that the adherents of the foreign slave trade used to challenge the law. It reassesses the role that Americans played in the continuation of foreign slave transshipments into the country right up to the Civil War, shedding light on an important topic that has been largely overlooked in the historiography of the slave trade.
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Freedom in White and Black
A Lost Story of the Illegal Slave Trade and Its Global Legacy
Emma Christopher
University of Wisconsin Press, 2020
By 1808, both Britain and the United States had passed laws outlawing the transatlantic slave trade. Yet the trade covertly carried on. In the summer of 1813, in what is now Liberia, a compound of slave pens was bursting with sick and anguished captives, guarded by other African slaves. As a British patrol swooped down on the illicit barracoon, the slavers burned the premises to the ground, hoping to destroy evidence.

This story can be told because of an exceptional trove of court documents that provides unparalleled insight into one small link in the great, horrific chain of slavery. Emma Christopher follows a trail of evidence across four continents to examine the lives of this barracoon's owners, their workers, and their tragic human merchandise. She reveals how an American, Charles Mason, escaped justice, while British subjects Robert Bostock and John McQueen were arrested. In court five African men—Tamba, Tom Ball, Yarra, Noah, and Sessay—courageously testified against their former owners/captors. They, and 233 other liberated men, women, and children, were relocated to Freetown, Sierra Leone. There they endured harsh lives of "freedom," while the punishment of Bostock and McQueen was fleeting.

From the fragmented facts of these lives, Christopher sheds fascinating light on the early development of the nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Australia (where Bostock and McQueen were banished) and the role of former slaves in combatting the illegal trade.
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The French Atlantic Triangle
Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade
Christopher L. Miller
Duke University Press, 2008
The French slave trade forced more than one million Africans across the Atlantic to the islands of the Caribbean. It enabled France to establish Saint-Domingue, the single richest colony on earth, and it connected France, Africa, and the Caribbean permanently. Yet the impact of the slave trade on the cultures of France and its colonies has received surprisingly little attention. Until recently, France had not publicly acknowledged its history as a major slave-trading power. The distinguished scholar Christopher L. Miller proposes a thorough assessment of the French slave trade and its cultural ramifications, in a broad, circum-Atlantic inquiry. This magisterial work is the first comprehensive examination of the French Atlantic slave trade and its consequences as represented in the history, literature, and film of France and its former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.

Miller offers a historical introduction to the cultural and economic dynamics of the French slave trade, and he shows how Enlightenment thinkers such as Montesquieu and Voltaire mused about the enslavement of Africans, while Rousseau ignored it. He follows the twists and turns of attitude regarding the slave trade through the works of late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century French writers, including Olympe de Gouges, Madame de Staël, Madame de Duras, Prosper Mérimée, and Eugène Sue. For these authors, the slave trade was variously an object of sentiment, a moral conundrum, or an entertaining high-seas “adventure.” Turning to twentieth-century literature and film, Miller describes how artists from Africa and the Caribbean—including the writers Aimé Césaire, Maryse Condé, and Edouard Glissant, and the filmmakers Ousmane Sembene, Guy Deslauriers, and Roger Gnoan M’Bala—have confronted the aftermath of France’s slave trade, attempting to bridge the gaps between silence and disclosure, forgetfulness and memory.

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Ghost Voices
A Poem in Prayer
Quincy Troupe
Northwestern University Press, 2019
If we were all brave enough to resurrect the voices lost from our humanity, what would they say? Award-winning poet Quincy Troupe, spokesman for the humanizing forces of poetry, music, and art, parts the Atlantic and rattles the ground built on slavery with Ghost Voices: A Poem in Prayer.

we are crossing, / we are / crossing, / we are crossing in big salt water, // we are crossing, // crossing under a sky of no guilt / we have left home // though we know we will go back / someday, / see our people / as we knew them . . .

Troupe re-creates the history of lost voices between the waters of Africa, Cuba, and the United States. His daring poetics drenched in new forms-notably the seven-elevens-clench transformative narratives spurred on by a relentless, rhythmic language that mimics the foaming waves of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. His personae speak quantum litanies within one epic, sermonic-gospel to articulate our most ancient ways of storytelling and survival.
 
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The Glasgow Sugar Aristocracy
Scotland and Caribbean Slavery, 1775–1838
Stephen Mullen
University of London Press, 2020
The first book to outline Scotland’s colonial past and Glasgow’s direct links with the slave trade through sugar plantations.

This important book assesses the size and nature of Caribbean slavery’s economic impact on British society. The Glasgow Sugar Aristocracy, a grouping of West India merchants and planters, became active before the emancipation of chattel slavery in the British West Indies in 1834. Many acquired nationally significant fortunes, and their investments percolated into the Scottish economy and wider society. At its core, the book traces the development of merchant capital and poses several interrelated questions during an era of rapid transformation, namely, what impact the private investments of West India merchants and colonial adventurers had on metropolitan society and the economy, as well as the wider effects of such commerce on industrial and agricultural development.
 
The book also examines the fortunes of temporary Scottish economic migrants who traveled to some of the wealthiest of the Caribbean islands, presenting the first large-scale survey of repatriated slavery fortunes via case studies of Scots in Jamaica, Grenada, and Trinidad before emancipation in 1834. It, therefore, takes a new approach to illuminate the world of individuals who acquired West Indian fortunes and ultimately explores, in an Atlantic frame, the interconnections between the colonies and metropole in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
[more]

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History 4° Celsius
Search for a Method in the Age of the Anthropocene
Ian Baucom
Duke University Press, 2020
In History 4° Celsius Ian Baucom continues his inquiries into the place of the Black Atlantic in the making of the modern and postmodern world. Putting black studies into conversation with climate change, Baucom outlines how the ongoing concerns of critical race, diaspora, and postcolonial studies are crucial to understanding the Anthropocene. He draws on materialist and postmaterialist thought, Sartre, and the science of climate change to trace the ways in which evolving political, cultural, and natural history converge to shape a globally destructive force. Identifying the quest for limitless financial gain as the primary driving force behind both the slave trade and the continuing increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, Baucom demonstrates that climate change and the conditions of the Black Atlantic, colonialism, and the postcolony are fundamentally entwined. In so doing, he argues for the necessity of establishing a method of critical exchange between climate science, black studies, and the surrounding theoretical inquiries of humanism and posthumanism.
[more]

front cover of A History of Slavery and Emancipation in Iran, 1800-1929
A History of Slavery and Emancipation in Iran, 1800-1929
By Behnaz A. Mirzai
University of Texas Press, 2017

Shortlisted for the 2018 Wallace K. Ferguson Prize, Canadian Historical Association

The leading authority on slavery and the African diaspora in modern Iran presents the first history of slavery in this key Middle Eastern country and shows how slavery helped to shape the nation’s unique character.


Slavery in the Middle East is a growing field of study, but the history of slavery in a key country, Iran, has never before been written. This history extends to Africa in the west and India in the east, to Russia and Turkmenistan in the north, and to the Arab states in the south. As the slave trade between Iran and these regions shifted over time, it transformed the nation and helped forge its unique culture and identity. Thus, a history of Iranian slavery is crucial to understanding the character of the modern nation.

Drawing on extensive archival research in Iran, Tanzania, England, and France, as well as fieldwork and interviews in Iran, Behnaz A. Mirzai offers the first history of slavery in modern Iran from the early nineteenth century to emancipation in the mid-twentieth century. She investigates how foreign military incursion, frontier insecurity, political instability, and economic crisis altered the patterns of enslavement, as well as the ethnicity of the slaves themselves. Mirzai’s interdisciplinary analysis illuminates the complex issues surrounding the history of the slave trade and the process of emancipation in Iran, while also giving voice to social groups that have never been studied—enslaved Africans and Iranians. Her research builds a clear case that the trade in slaves was inexorably linked to the authority of the state. During periods of greater decentralization, slave trading increased, while periods of greater governmental autonomy saw more freedom and peace.

[more]

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In the Blood of Our Brothers
Abolitionism and the End of the Slave Trade in Spain's Atlantic Empire, 1800–1870
Jesús Sanjurjo
University of Alabama Press, 2021
Finalist for the Paul E. Lovejoy Book Prize

Details the abolition of the slave trade in the Atlantic World to the 1860s


Throughout the nineteenth century, very few people in Spain campaigned to stop the slave trade and did even less to abolish slavery. Even when some supported abolition, the reasons that moved them were not always humanitarian, liberal, or egalitarian. How abolitionist ideas were received, shaped, and transformed during this period has been ripe for study. Jesús Sanjurjo’s In the Blood of Our Brothers: Abolitionism and the End of the Slave Trade in Spain’s Atlantic Empire, 1800–1870 provides a comprehensive theory of the history, the politics, and the economics of the persistence and growth of the slave trade in the Spanish empire even as other countries moved toward abolition.

Sanjurjo privileges the central role that British activists and diplomats played in advancing the abolitionist cause in Spain. In so doing, he brings to attention the complex and uneven development of abolitionist and antiabolitionist discourses in Spain’s public life, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the end of the transatlantic trade. His delineation of the ideological and political tension between Spanish liberalism and imperialism is crucial to formulating a fuller explanation of the reasons for the failure of anti–slave trade initiatives from 1811 to the 1860s. Slave trade was tied to the notion of inviolable property rights, and slavery persisted and peaked following three successful liberal revolutions in Spain.

Visit
https://inthebloodofourbrothers.com/ for more information.

 
[more]

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The Intimacies of Four Continents
Lisa Lowe
Duke University Press, 2015
In this uniquely interdisciplinary work, Lisa Lowe examines the relationships between Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- centuries, exploring the links between colonialism, slavery, imperial trades and Western liberalism. Reading across archives, canons, and continents, Lowe connects the liberal narrative of freedom overcoming slavery to the expansion of Anglo-American empire, observing that abstract promises of freedom often obscure their embeddedness within colonial conditions. Race and social difference, Lowe contends, are enduring remainders of colonial processes through which “the human” is universalized and “freed” by liberal forms, while the peoples who create the conditions of possibility for that freedom are assimilated or forgotten. Analyzing the archive of liberalism alongside the colonial state archives from which it has been separated, Lowe offers new methods for interpreting the past, examining events well documented in archives, and those matters absent, whether actively suppressed or merely deemed insignificant. Lowe invents a mode of reading intimately, which defies accepted national boundaries and disrupts given chronologies, complicating our conceptions of history, politics, economics, and culture, and ultimately, knowledge itself.
[more]

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Invisible Citizens
Captives and Their Consequences
Catherine M Cameron
University of Utah Press, 2009
Throughout history, warfare and raiding forced captives from one society into another, forming an almost invisible stratum of many people without kin and largely outside the social systems in which they lived. Invisible Citizens explores the profound effects this mingling of societies and customs had on cultural development around the world.

The contributors to this volume explore the remarkable range in the conditions and experiences of captives, from abject drudge to quasi kinswoman and from war captive to sexual concubine. Developing methods for identifying captives in the archaeological record are established in light of the silence that surrounded captive-taking and enslavement in many parts of the world.

Invisible Citizens promises to attract attention from a number of fields concerned with the comparative, historical study of social inequality. It challenges scholars to develop robust, empirically grounded insights into the practices of slavery while attending to the forms and saliencies of its memories. .
[more]

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London, Metropolis of the Slave Trade
James A. Rawley & Foreword by David Eltis
University of Missouri Press, 2003

"The recognition that ordinary people could and did trade in slaves, as well as the fact that ordinary people became slaves, is, indeed, the beginning of comprehending the enormity of the forced migration of eleven million people and the attendant deaths of many more."

In London, Metropolis of the Slave Trade, James A. Rawley collects some of his best works from the past three decades. Also included in this volume are three new pieces: an essay on a South Carolina slave trader, Henry Laurens; an analysis of the slave trade at the beginning of the eighteenth century; and a portrait of John Newton, a slave trader who became a priest in the Church of England and composer of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” as well as an outspoken opponent of the trade.
In these essays Rawley brings together new information on individuals involved in and opposed to the slave trade and shows how scholars have long underestimated the extent of London’s participation in the trade.

Rawley draws on material from the year 1700 to the American Civil War as he explores the role of London in the trade. He covers its activity as a port of departure for ships bound for Africa; its continuing large volume after the trade extended to Bristol and Liverpool; and the controversy between London’s parliamentary representatives, who defended the trade, and the abolitionist movement that was quartered there.

Sweeping in scope and thorough in its analysis, this collection of essays from a seasoned scholar will be welcomed by historians concerned with slavery and the slave trade, as well as by students just beginning their exploration of this subject.
[more]

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Making Money
Life, Death, and Early Modern Trade on Africa’s Guinea Coast
Colleen E. Kriger
Ohio University Press, 2017
A new era in world history began when Atlantic maritime trade among Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas opened up in the fifteenth century, setting the stage for massive economic and cultural change. In Making Money, Colleen Kriger examines the influence of the global trade on the Upper Guinea Coast two hundred years later—a place and time whose study, in her hands, imparts profound insights into Anglo-African commerce and its wider milieu. A stunning variety of people lived in this coastal society, struggling to work together across deep cultural divides and in the process creating a dynamic creole culture. Kriger digs further than any previous historian of Africa into the records of England’s Royal African Company to illuminate global trade patterns, the interconnectedness of Asian, African, and European markets, and—most remarkably—the individual lives that give Making Money its human scale. By inviting readers into the day-to-day workings of early modern trade in the Atlantic basin, Kriger masterfully reveals the rich social relations at its core. Ultimately, this accessible book affirms Africa’s crucial place in world history during a transitional period, the early modern era.
[more]

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Mastering the Niger
James MacQueen's African Geography and the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery
David Lambert
University of Chicago Press, 2013
In Mastering the Niger, David Lambert recalls Scotsman James MacQueen (1778–1870) and his publication of A New Map of Africa in 1841 to show that Atlantic slavery—as a practice of subjugation, a source of wealth, and a focus of political struggle—was entangled with the production, circulation, and reception of geographical knowledge. The British empire banned the slave trade in 1807 and abolished slavery itself in 1833, creating a need for a new British imperial economy. Without ever setting foot on the continent, MacQueen took on the task of solving the “Niger problem,” that is, to successfully map the course of the river and its tributaries, and thus breathe life into his scheme for the exploration, colonization, and commercial exploitation of West Africa.
           
Lambert illustrates how MacQueen’s geographical research began, four decades before the publication of the New Map, when he was managing a sugar estate on the West Indian colony of Grenada. There MacQueen encountered slaves with firsthand knowledge of West Africa, whose accounts would form the basis of his geographical claims. Lambert examines the inspirations and foundations for MacQueen’s geographical theory as well as its reception, arguing that Atlantic slavery and ideas for alternatives to it helped produce geographical knowledge, while geographical discourse informed the struggle over slavery.
[more]

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The Memoirs of Captain Hugh Crow
The Life and Times of a Slave Trade Captain
Edited by the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2007

Numerous documents attest to the horrific conditions endured by African slaves during the centuries of the Atlantic slave trade. Less well known is the perspective of those who wielded power during this dark time in human history. The Bodleian Library fills that gap here with the memoirs of a principal figure in the slave trade, Captain Hugh Crow.

The first-hand account of a man who commanded one of the last legal slave vessels to cross the Atlantic, Life and Times of a Slave Trade Captain offers a revealing if frequently troubling look into the psyche of a slave trader. His chronicle leaves nothing to the imagination, as he recounts the harsh routine of daily life on a slave vessel, where on average a fifth of the crew—let alone the human cargo—never survived the crossing. Crow portrays himself as an “enlightened” slaver, a claim he justifies through the link between his close attention to his “negroes” and his financial success, and the songs composed for him by the slaves. His account also includes commentary on the social propriety of the slave trade and notes about the conditions on West Indian and Caribbean plantations as well as on slave ships. John Pinfold’s illuminating introduction recounts the life of Hugh Crow and sets him in the rich historical context of eighteenth-century mercantilism and its battle with the abolitionist movement. An eye-opening read, Life and Times of a Slave Trade Captain reveals an often overlooked facet in the complicated history of transatlantic slavery.

[more]

front cover of Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic
Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic
Wendy Wilson-Fall
Ohio University Press, 2015

From the seventeenth century into the nineteenth, thousands of Madagascar’s people were brought to American ports as slaves. In Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic, Wendy Wilson-Fall shows that the descendants of these Malagasy slaves in the United States maintained an ethnic identity in ways that those from the areas more commonly feeding the Atlantic slave trade did not. Generations later, hundreds, if not thousands, of African Americans maintain strong identities as Malagasy descendants, yet the histories of Malagasy slaves, sailors, and their descendants have been little explored.

Wilson-Fall examines how and why the stories that underlie this identity have been handed down through families—and what this says about broader issues of ethnicity and meaning-making for those whose family origins, if documented at all, have been willfully obscured by history.

By analyzing contemporary oral histories as well as historical records and examining the conflicts between the two, Wilson-Fall carefully probes the tensions between the official and the personal, the written and the lived. She suggests that historically, the black community has been a melting pot to which generations of immigrants—enslaved and free—have been socially assigned, often in spite of their wish to retain far more complex identities. Innovative in its methodology and poetic in its articulation, this book bridges history and ethnography to take studies of diaspora, ethnicity, and identity into new territory.

[more]

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Memories of the Slave Trade
Ritual and the Historical Imagination in Sierra Leone
Rosalind Shaw
University of Chicago Press, 2002
How is the slave trade remembered in West Africa? In a work that challenges recurring claims that Africans felt (and still feel) no sense of moral responsibility concerning the sale of slaves, Rosalind Shaw traces memories of the slave trade in Temne-speaking communities in Sierra Leone. While the slave-trading past is rarely remembered in explicit verbal accounts, it is often made vividly present in such forms as rogue spirits, ritual specialists' visions, and the imagery of divination techniques.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork and archival research, Shaw argues that memories of the slave trade have shaped (and been reshaped by) experiences of colonialism, postcolonialism, and the country's ten-year rebel war. Thus money and commodities, for instance, are often linked to an invisible city of witches whose affluence was built on the theft of human lives. These ritual and visionary memories make hitherto invisible realities manifest, forming a prism through which past and present mutually configure each other.
[more]

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The Moment Is Now
Carl Bernhard Wadström’s Revolutionary Voice on Human Trafficking and the Abolition of the African Slave Trade
ANDERS HALLENGREN
Swedenborg Foundation Publishers, 2019
The Moment Is Now: Carl Bernhard Wadström’s Revolutionary Voice on Human Trafficking and the Abolition of the African Slave Trade represents the efforts made by a wide variety of international scholars to give voice to the spirit of Swedish–British humanitarian cooperation that abolitionist and author Carl Bernhard Wadström (1746–99) started in London in the 1780s and '90s. Particularly focusing on Wadström’s often-overlooked life, work, and impact, this book demonstrates how the historical accounts and arguments related to the slavery issue can inform our modern understanding of human trafficking, racism, and systemic violence.

The Moment Is Now includes the proceedings of The International Carl Bernhard Wadström Conference on Human Rights and the Abolition of Slavery, which was held in London on June 2–4, 2015. Accessing source materials in different languages that were previously scattered throughout English, French, and Swedish archives, the scholars involved have been able to successfully investigate Wadström’s work and influence in such diverse areas as economics, science, abolitionism, travel writing, African colonial history, Swedenborgianism, philanthropy, utopianism, and human rights.

As its title makes clear, this book not only offers a glimpse into a significant moment in history but also serves as a call to action and a primer to be used in the here and now—a guide from which we can learn how to deal with those horrific forms of human oppression that Wadström and others like him sought to bring to an end.

The Moment Is Now is the twenty-second installment in the Swedenborg Studies scholarly series.
[more]

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Ouidah
The Social History of a West African Slaving Port, 1727–1892
Robin Law
Ohio University Press, 2004

Ouidah, an African town in the Republic of Benin, was the principal precolonial commercial center of its region and the second-most-important town of the Dahomey kingdom. It served as a major outlet for the transatlantic slave trade. Between the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries, Ouidah was the most important embarkation point for slaves in the region of West Africa known to outsiders as the Slave Coast. This is the first detailed study of the town’s history and of its role in the Atlantic slave trade.

Ouidah is a well-documented case study of precolonial urbanism, of the evolution of a merchant community, and in particular of the growth of a group of private traders whose relations with the Dahomian monarchy grew increasingly problematic over time.

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The Parker Sisters
A Border Kidnapping
Lucy Maddox
Temple University Press, 2016
In 1851, Elizabeth Parker, a free black child in Chester County, Pennsylvania, was bound and gagged, snatched from a local farm, and hurried off to a Baltimore slave pen. Two weeks later, her teenage sister, Rachel, was abducted from another Chester County farm. Because slave catchers could take fugitive slaves and free blacks across state lines to be sold, the border country of Pennsylvania/Maryland had become a dangerous place for most black people.
 
In The Parker Sisters, Lucy Maddox gives an eloquent, urgent account of the tragic kidnapping of these young women. Using archival news and courtroom reports, Maddox tells the larger story of the disastrous effect of the Fugitive Slave Act on the small farming communities of Chester County and the significant, widening consequences for the state and the nation.  
 
The Parker Sisters is also a story about families whose lives and fates were deeply embedded in both the daily rounds of their community and the madness and violence consuming all of antebellum America. Maddox’s account of this horrific and startling crime reveals the strength and vulnerability of the Parker sisters and the African American population.
[more]

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Reckoning with Slavery
Gender, Kinship, and Capitalism in the Early Black Atlantic
Jennifer L. Morgan
Duke University Press, 2021
In Reckoning with Slavery Jennifer L. Morgan draws on the lived experiences of enslaved African women in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to reveal the contours of early modern notions of trade, race, and commodification in the Black Atlantic. From capture to transport to sale to childbirth, these women were demographically counted as commodities during the Middle Passage, vulnerable to rape, separated from their kin at slave markets, and subject to laws that enslaved their children upon birth. In this way, they were central to the binding of reproductive labor with kinship, racial hierarchy, and the economics of slavery. Throughout this groundbreaking study, Morgan demonstrates that the development of Western notions of value and race occurred simultaneously. In so doing, she illustrates how racial capitalism denied the enslaved their kinship and affective ties while simultaneously relying on kinship to reproduce and enforce slavery through enslaved female bodies.
[more]

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Rice and Slaves
Ethnicity and the Slave Trade in Colonial South Carolina
Daniel C. Littlefield
University of Illinois Press, 1991
Daniel Littlefield's investigation of colonial South Carolinianss preference for some African ethnic groups over others as slaves reveals how the Africans' diversity and capabilities inhibited the development of racial stereotypes and influenced their masters' perceptions of slaves. It also highlights how South Carolina, perhaps more than anywhere else in North America, exemplifies the common effort of Africans and Europeans in molding American civilization.
 
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River of Dark Dreams
Walter Johnson
Harvard University Press, 2013

Winner of the SHEAR Book Prize
Honorable Mention, Avery O. Craven Award


“Few books have captured the lived experience of slavery as powerfully.”
—Ari Kelman, Times Literary Supplement


“[One] of the most impressive works of American history in many years.”
The Nation


“An important, arguably seminal, book…Always trenchant and learned.”
Wall Street Journal


A landmark history, by the author of National Book Critics Circle Award finalist The Broken Heart of America, that shows how slavery fueled Southern capitalism.

When Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Territory, he envisioned an “empire for liberty” populated by self-sufficient white farmers. Cleared of Native Americans and the remnants of European empires by Andrew Jackson, the Mississippi Valley was transformed instead into a booming capitalist economy commanded by wealthy planters, powered by steam engines, and dependent on the coerced labor of slaves. River of Dark Dreams places the Cotton Kingdom at the center of worldwide webs of exchange and exploitation that extended across oceans and drove an insatiable hunger for new lands. This bold reconsideration dramatically alters our understanding of American slavery and its role in U.S. expansionism, global capitalism, and the upcoming Civil War.

Walter Johnson deftly traces the connections between the planters’ pro-slavery ideology, Atlantic commodity markets, and Southern schemes for global ascendency. Using slave narratives, popular literature, legal records, and personal correspondence, he recreates the harrowing details of daily life under cotton’s dark dominion. We meet the confidence men and gamblers who made the Valley shimmer with promise, the slave dealers, steamboat captains, and merchants who supplied the markets, the planters who wrung their civilization out of the minds and bodies of their human property, and the true believers who threatened the Union by trying to expand the Cotton Kingdom on a global scale.

But at the center of the story are the enslaved people who pulled down the forests, planted the fields, picked the cotton—who labored, suffered, and resisted on the dark underside of the American dream.

“Shows how the Cotton Kingdom of the 19th-century Deep South, far from being a backward outpost of feudalism, was a dynamic engine of capitalist expansion built on enslaved labor.”
—A. O. Scott, New York Times

“River of Dark Dreams delivers spectacularly on the long-standing mission to write ‘history from the bottom up.’”
—Maya Jasanoff, New York Review of Books

[more]

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Routes of Remembrance
Refashioning the Slave Trade in Ghana
Bayo Holsey
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Over the past fifteen years, visitors from the African diaspora have flocked to Cape Coast and Elmina, two towns in Ghana whose chief tourist attractions are the castles and dungeons where slaves were imprisoned before embarking for the New World. This desire to commemorate the Middle Passage contrasts sharply with the silence that normally cloaks the subject within Ghana. Why do Ghanaians suppress the history of enslavement? And why is this history expressed so differently on the other side of the Atlantic?

Routes of Remembrance tackles these questions by analyzing the slave trade’s absence from public versions of coastal Ghanaian family and community histories, its troubled presentation in the country’s classrooms and nationalist narratives, and its elaboration by the transnational tourism industry. Bayo Holsey discovers that in the past, African involvement in the slave trade was used by Europeans to denigrate local residents, and this stigma continues to shape the way Ghanaians imagine their historical past. Today, however, due to international attention and the curiosity of young Ghanaians, the slave trade has at last entered the public sphere, transforming it from a stigmatizing history to one that holds the potential to contest global inequalities.

Holsey’s study will be crucial to anyone involved in the global debate over how the slave trade endures in history and in memory.
[more]

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Saltwater Slavery
A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora
Stephanie E. Smallwood
Harvard University Press, 2007

This bold, innovative book promises to radically alter our understanding of the Atlantic slave trade, and the depths of its horrors. Stephanie E. Smallwood offers a penetrating look at the process of enslavement from its African origins through the Middle Passage and into the American slave market.

Smallwood's story is animated by deep research and gives us a startlingly graphic experience of the slave trade from the vantage point of the slaves themselves. Ultimately, Saltwater Slavery details how African people were transformed into Atlantic commodities in the process. She begins her narrative on the shores of seventeenth-century Africa, tracing how the trade in human bodies came to define the life of the Gold Coast. Smallwood takes us into the ports and stone fortresses where African captives were held and prepared, and then through the Middle Passage itself. In extraordinary detail, we witness these men and women cramped in the holds of ships, gasping for air, and trying to make sense of an unfamiliar sea and an unimaginable destination. Arriving in America, we see how these new migrants enter the market for laboring bodies, and struggle to reconstruct their social identities in the New World.

Throughout, Smallwood examines how the people at the center of her story-merchant capitalists, sailors, and slaves-made sense of the bloody process in which they were joined. The result is both a remarkable transatlantic view of the culture of enslavement, and a painful, intimate vision of the bloody, daily business of the slave trade.

[more]

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Slave Trade and Abolition
Gender, Commerce, and Economic Transition in Luanda
Vanessa S. Oliveira
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022
Well into the early nineteenth century, Luanda, the administrative capital of Portuguese Angola, was one of the most influential ports for the transatlantic slave trade. Between 1801 and 1850, it served as the point of embarkation for more than 535,000 enslaved Africans. In the history of this diverse, wealthy city, the gendered dynamics of the merchant community have frequently been overlooked.

Vanessa S. Oliveira traces how existing commercial networks adapted to changes in the Atlantic slave trade during the first half of the nineteenth century. Slave Trade and Abolition reveals how women known as donas (a term adapted from the title granted to noble and royal women in the Iberian Peninsula) were often important cultural brokers. Acting as intermediaries between foreign and local people, they held high socioeconomic status and even competed with the male merchants who controlled the trade. Oliveira provides rich evidence to explore the many ways this Luso-African community influenced its society. In doing so, she reveals an unexpectedly nuanced economy with regard to the dynamics of gender and authority.
[more]

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Slavery at Sea
Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage
Sowande M Mustakeem
University of Illinois Press, 2016
Most times left solely within the confine of plantation narratives, slavery was far from a land-based phenomenon. This book reveals for the first time how it took critical shape at sea. Expanding the gaze even more deeply, the book centers how the oceanic transport of human cargoes--infamously known as the Middle Passage--comprised a violently regulated process foundational to the institution of bondage.

Sowande' Mustakeem's groundbreaking study goes inside the Atlantic slave trade to explore the social conditions and human costs embedded in the world of maritime slavery. Mining ship logs, records and personal documents, Mustakeem teases out the social histories produced between those on traveling ships: slaves, captains, sailors, and surgeons. As she shows, crewmen manufactured captives through enforced dependency, relentless cycles of physical, psychological terror, and pain that led to the the making--and unmaking--of enslaved Africans held and transported onboard slave ships. Mustakeem relates how this process, and related power struggles, played out not just for adult men, but also for women, children, teens, infants, nursing mothers, the elderly, diseased, ailing, and dying. Mustakeem offers provocative new insights into how gender, health, age, illness, and medical treatment intersected with trauma and violence transformed human beings into the world's most commercially sought commodity for over four centuries.

[more]

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Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar
Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873
Abdul Sheriff
Ohio University Press, 1987

The rise of Zanzibar was based on two major economic transformations. Firstly slaves became used for producing cloves and grains for export. Previously the slaves themselves were exported.

Secondly, there was an increased international demand for luxuries such as ivory. At the same time the price of imported manufactured gods was falling. Zanzibar took advantage of its strategic position to trade as far as the Great Lakes.

However this very economic success increasingly subordinated Zanzibar to Britain, with its anti-slavery crusade and its control over the Indian merchant class.

Professor Sheriff analyses the early stages of the underdevelopment of East Africa and provides a corrective to the dominance of political and diplomatic factors in the history of the area.

[more]

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Slaves Waiting for Sale
Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade
Maurie D. McInnis
University of Chicago Press, 2011

In 1853, Eyre Crowe, a young British artist, visited a slave auction in Richmond, Virginia. Harrowed by what he witnessed, he captured the scene in sketches that he would later develop into a series of illustrations and paintings, including the culminating painting, Slaves Waiting for Sale, Richmond, Virginia.

This innovative book uses Crowe’s paintings to explore the texture of the slave trade in Richmond, Charleston, and New Orleans, the evolving iconography of abolitionist art, and the role of visual culture in the transatlantic world of abolitionism. Tracing Crowe’s trajectory from Richmond across the American South and back to London—where his paintings were exhibited just a few weeks after the start of the Civil War—Maurie D. McInnis illuminates not only how his abolitionist art was inspired and made, but also how it influenced the international public’s grasp of slavery in America. With almost 140 illustrations, Slaves Waiting for Sale brings a fresh perspective to the American slave trade and abolitionism as we enter the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.
[more]

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Soul by Soul
Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market
Walter Johnson
Harvard University Press, 2001

Winner of the Frederick Jackson Turner Award
Winner of the John Hope Franklin Prize
Winner of the Avery O. Craven Award


Soul by Soul tells the story of slavery in antebellum America by moving away from the cotton plantations and into the slave market itself, the heart of the domestic slave trade. Taking us inside the New Orleans slave market, the largest in the nation, where 100,000 men, women, and children were packaged, priced, and sold, Walter Johnson transforms the statistics of this chilling trade into the human drama of traders, buyers, and slaves, negotiating sales that would alter the life of each. What emerges is not only the brutal economics of trading but the vast and surprising interdependencies among the actors involved.

Using recently discovered court records, slaveholders’ letters, nineteenth-century narratives of former slaves, and the financial documentation of the trade itself, Johnson reveals the tenuous shifts of power that occurred in the market’s slave coffles and showrooms. Traders packaged their slaves by “feeding them up,” dressing them well, and oiling their bodies, but they ultimately relied on the slaves to play their part as valuable commodities. Slave buyers stripped the slaves and questioned their pasts, seeking more honest answers than they could get from the traders. In turn, these examinations provided information that the slaves could utilize, sometimes even shaping a sale to their own advantage.

Johnson depicts the subtle interrelation of capitalism, paternalism, class consciousness, racism, and resistance in the slave market, to help us understand the centrality of the “peculiar institution” in the lives of slaves and slaveholders alike. His pioneering history is in no small measure the story of antebellum slavery.

[more]

front cover of Specters of the Atlantic
Specters of the Atlantic
Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History
Ian Baucom
Duke University Press, 2005
In September 1781, the captain of the British slave ship Zong ordered 133 slaves thrown overboard, enabling the ship’s owners to file an insurance claim for their lost “cargo.” Accounts of this horrific event quickly became a staple of abolitionist discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. Ian Baucom revisits, in unprecedented detail, the Zong atrocity, the ensuing court cases, reactions to the event and trials, and the business and social dealings of the Liverpool merchants who owned the ship. Drawing on the work of an astonishing array of literary and social theorists, including Walter Benjamin, Giovanni Arrighi, Jacques Derrida, and many others, he argues that the tragedy is central not only to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the political and cultural archives of the black Atlantic but also to the history of modern capital and ethics. To apprehend the Zong tragedy, Baucom suggests, is not to come to terms with an isolated atrocity but to encounter a logic of violence key to the unfolding history of Atlantic modernity.

Baucom contends that the massacre and the trials that followed it bring to light an Atlantic cycle of capital accumulation based on speculative finance, an economic cycle that has not yet run its course. The extraordinarily abstract nature of today’s finance capital is the late-eighteenth-century system intensified. Yet, as Baucom highlights, since the late 1700s, this rapacious speculative culture has had detractors. He traces the emergence and development of a counter-discourse he calls melancholy realism through abolitionist and human-rights texts, British romantic poetry, Scottish moral philosophy, and the work of late-twentieth-century literary theorists. In revealing how the Zong tragedy resonates within contemporary financial systems and human-rights discourses, Baucom puts forth a deeply compelling, utterly original theory of history: one that insists that an eighteenth-century atrocity is not past but present within the future we now inhabit.

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Speculators And Slaves
Masters, Traders, And Slaves In The Old South
Michael Tadman
University of Wisconsin Press, 1996
In this groundbreaking work, Michael Tadman establishes that all levels of white society in the antebellum South were deeply involved in a massive interregional trade in slaves. Using countless previously untapped manuscript sources, he documents black resilience in the face of the pervasive indifference of slaveholders toward slaves and their families. This new paperback edition of Speculators and Slaves offers a substantial new Introduction that advances a major thesis of master-slave relationships. By exploring the gulf between the slaveholders’ self-image as benevolent paternalists and their actual behavior, Tadman critiques the theories of close accommodation and paternalistic hegemony that are currently influential.
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To Be A Slave in Brazil
1550-1888
Mattoso, Katia M de Queiros
Rutgers University Press, 1986
This book was published originally in French in 1979 and in Portuguese in 1982. Written without scholarly footnotes for a general readership, it is a deceptively simple book direct in its presentation, lacking a specialized jargon, and organized in an imaginative and interesting way. But it also is a volume that reflects some of the most recent and innovative research on the question of slavery. Putting aside the somewhat arid debate over the feudal or capitalist nature of the "slave mode of production" and the political aspects of the movement for abolition, To Be a Slave in Brazil presents an overview of Brazilian slavery which reflects the trend toward study of the slave community, religion, the family, and other features of the internal aspects of slavery.
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Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake
Law and the Experience of Women and Children in Africa
Benjamin N. Lawrance
Ohio University Press, 2012

Women and children have been bartered, pawned, bought, and sold within and beyond Africa for longer than records have existed. This important collection examines the ways trafficking in women and children has changed from the aftermath of the “end of slavery” in Africa from the late nineteenth century to the present.

The formal abolition of the slave trade and slavery did not end the demand for servile women and children. Contemporary forms of human trafficking are deeply interwoven with their historical precursors, and scholars and activists need to be informed about the long history of trafficking in order to better assess and confront its contemporary forms. This book brings together the perspectives of leading scholars, activists, and other experts, creating a conversation that is essential for understanding the complexity of human trafficking in Africa.

Human trafficking is rapidly emerging as a core human rights issue for the twenty-first century. Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake is excellent reading for the researching, combating, and prosecuting of trafficking in women and children.

Contributors: Margaret Akullo, Jean Allain, Kevin Bales, Liza Stuart Buchbinder, Bernard K. Freamon, Susan Kreston, Benjamin N. Lawrance, Elisabeth McMahon, Carina Ray, Richard L. Roberts, Marie Rodet, Jody Sarich, and Jelmer Vos.

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The Two Princes of Calabar
An Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey
Randy J. Sparks
Harvard University Press, 2009

In 1767, two “princes” of a ruling family in the port of Old Calabar, on the slave coast of Africa, were ambushed and captured by English slavers. The princes, Little Ephraim Robin John and Ancona Robin Robin John, were themselves slave traders who were betrayed by African competitors—and so began their own extraordinary odyssey of enslavement. Their story, written in their own hand, survives as a rare firsthand account of the Atlantic slave experience.

Randy J. Sparks made the remarkable discovery of the princes’ correspondence and has managed to reconstruct their adventures from it. They were transported from the coast of Africa to Dominica, where they were sold to a French physician. By employing their considerable language and interpersonal skills, they cleverly negotiated several escapes that took them from the Caribbean to Virginia, and to England, but always ended in their being enslaved again. Finally, in England, they sued for, and remarkably won, their freedom. Eventually, they found their way back to Old Calabar and, evidence suggests, resumed their business of slave trading.

The Two Princes of Calabar offers a rare glimpse into the eighteenth-century Atlantic World and slave trade from an African perspective. It brings us into the trading communities along the coast of Africa and follows the regular movement of goods, people, and ideas across and around the Atlantic. It is an extraordinary tale of slaves’ relentless quest for freedom and their important role in the creation of the modern Atlantic World.

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Way of Death
Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730–1830
Joseph Calder Miller
University of Wisconsin Press, 1996

This acclaimed history of Portuguese and Brazilian slaving in the southern Atlantic is now available in paperback.
    With extraordinary skill, Joseph C. Miller explores the complex relationships among the separate economies of Africa, Europe, and the South Atlantic that collectively supported the slave trade. He places the grim history of the trade itself within the context of the rise of merchant capitalism in the eighteenth century. Throughout, Miller illuminates the experiences of the slaves themselves, reconstructing what can be known of their sufferings at the hands of their buyers and sellers.

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Went to the Devil
A Yankee Whaler in the Slave Trade
Anthony J. Connors
University of Massachusetts Press, 2019
Edward Davoll was a respected New Bedford whaling captain in an industry at its peak in the 1850s. But mid-career, disillusioned with whaling, desperately lonely at sea, and experiencing financial problems, he turned to the slave trade, with disastrous results. Why would a man of good reputation, in a city known for its racial tolerance and Quaker-inspired abolitionism, risk engagement with this morally repugnant industry?

In this riveting biography, Anthony J. Connors explores this question by detailing not only the troubled, adventurous life of this man but also the turbulent times in which he lived. Set in an era of social and political fragmentation and impending civil war, when changes in maritime law and the economics of whaling emboldened slaving agents to target captains and their vessels for the illicit trade, Davoll's story reveals the deadly combination of greed and racial antipathy that encouraged otherwise principled Americans to participate in the African slave trade.
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Where the Negroes Are Masters
Randy J. Sparks
Harvard University Press, 2014

Annamaboe was the largest slave trading port on the eighteenth-century Gold Coast, and it was home to successful, wily African merchants whose unusual partnerships with their European counterparts made the town and its people an integral part of the Atlantic’s webs of exchange. Where the Negroes Are Masters brings to life the outpost’s feverish commercial bustle and continual brutality, recovering the experiences of the entrepreneurial black and white men who thrived on the lucrative traffic in human beings.

Located in present-day Ghana, the port of Annamaboe brought the town’s Fante merchants into daily contact with diverse peoples: Englishmen of the Royal African Company, Rhode Island Rum Men, European slave traders, and captured Africans from neighboring nations. Operating on their own turf, Annamaboe’s African leaders could bend negotiations with Europeans to their own advantage, as they funneled imported goods from across the Atlantic deep into the African interior and shipped vast cargoes of enslaved Africans to labor in the Americas.

Far from mere pawns in the hands of the colonial powers, African men and women were major players in the complex networks of the slave trade. Randy Sparks captures their collective experience in vivid detail, uncovering how the slave trade arose, how it functioned from day to day, and how it transformed life in Annamaboe and made the port itself a hub of Atlantic commerce. From the personal, commercial, and cultural encounters that unfolded along Annamaboe’s shore emerges a dynamic new vision of the early modern Atlantic world.

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