This is the story of how rural Black people struggled against the oppressive sharecropping system of the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta during the first half of the twentieth century. Here, white planters forged a world of terror and poverty for Black workers, one that resembled the horrific deprivations of the African Congo under Belgium’s King Leopold II.
Delta planters did not cut off the heads and hands of their African American workers but, aided by local law enforcement, they engaged in peonage, murder, theft, and disfranchisement. As individuals and through collective struggle, in conjunction with national organizations like the NAACP and local groups like the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, Black men and women fought back, demanding a just return for their crops and laying claim to a democratic vision of citizenship. Their efforts were amplified by the two world wars and the depression, which expanded the mobility and economic opportunities of Black people and provoked federal involvement in the region.
Nan Woodruff shows how the freedom fighters of the 1960s would draw on this half-century tradition of protest, thus expanding our standard notions of the civil rights movement and illuminating a neglected but significant slice of the American Black experience.
First book-length archaeological study of a nonelite white population on a Caribbean plantation
Archaeology below the Cliff: Race, Class, and Redlegs in Barbadian Sugar Society is the first archaeological study of the poor whites of Barbados, the descendants of seventeenth-century European indentured servants and small farmers. “Redlegs” is a pejorative to describe the marginalized group who remained after the island transitioned to a sugar monoculture economy dependent on the labor of enslaved Africans. A sizable portion of the “white” minority, the Redlegs largely existed on the peripheries of the plantation landscape in an area called “Below Cliff,” which was deemed unsuitable for profitable agricultural production. Just as the land on which they resided was cast as marginal, so too have the poor whites historically and contemporarily been derided as peripheral and isolated as well as idle, alcoholic, degenerate, inbred, and irrelevant to a functional island society and economy.
Using archaeological, historical, and oral sources, Matthew C. Reilly shows how the precarious existence of the Barbadian Redlegs challenged elite hypercapitalistic notions of economics, race, and class as they were developing in colonial society. Experiencing pronounced economic hardship, similar to that of the enslaved, albeit under very different circumstances, Barbadian Redlegs developed strategies to live in a harsh environment. Reilly’s investigations reveal that what developed in Below Cliff was a moral economy, based on community needs rather than free-market prices.
Reilly extensively excavated households from the tenantry area on the boundaries of the Clifton Hall Plantation, which was abandoned in the 1960s, to explore the daily lives of poor white tenants and investigate their relationships with island economic processes and networks. Despite misconceptions of strict racial isolation, evidence also highlights the importance of poor white encounters and relationships with Afro-Barbadians. Historical data are also incorporated to address how an underrepresented demographic experienced the plantation landscape. Ultimately, Reilly’s narrative situates the Redlegs within island history, privileging inclusion and embeddedness over exclusion and isolation.
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.
What happens if we abandon the assumption that a person is a discrete, world-making agent who acts on and creates place? This, Monique Allewaert contends, is precisely what occurred on eighteenth-century American plantations, where labor practices and ecological particularities threatened the literal and conceptual boundaries that separated persons from the natural world.
Integrating political philosophy and ecocriticism with literary analysis, Ariel’s Ecology explores the forms of personhood that developed out of New World plantations, from Georgia and Florida through Jamaica to Haiti and extending into colonial metropoles such as Philadelphia. Allewaert’s examination of the writings of naturalists, novelists, and poets; the oral stories of Africans in the diaspora; and Afro-American fetish artifacts shows that persons in American plantation spaces were pulled into a web of environmental stresses, ranging from humidity to the demand for sugar. This in turn gave rise to modes of personhood explicitly attuned to human beings’ interrelation with nonhuman forces in a process we might call ecological.
Certainly the possibility that colonial life revokes human agency haunts works from Shakespeare’s Tempest and Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws to Spivak’s theories of subalternity. In Allewaert’s interpretation, the transformation of colonial subjectivity into ecological personhood is not a nightmare; it is, rather, a mode of existence until now only glimmering in Che Guevara’s dictum that postcolonial resistance is synonymous with “perfect knowledge of the ground.”
Celebrated for her depictions of life among Louisiana’s Creole and Cajun peoples, Kate Chopin (1850–1904) is today seen as a major figure in southern literature. Her short stories and her last novel, The Awakening (1899), are widely read and studied. Unjustly neglected, however, is her first novel, At Fault, which Chopin published in 1890 at her own expense. This edition of At Fault—the first printing to appear since Chopin’s Complete Works was issued in 1969—now makes the book available to a wide audience.
The novel centers on Therese Lafirme, a widow who owns and runs a plantation in post–Civil War Louisiana. She encounters David Hosmer, who buys timber rights to her property to secure raw materials for his newly constructed sawmill. When David remarries, a love triangle develops between David, Fanny (his alcoholic wife), and Therese, who tries to balance her strong moral sensibility against her growing love for David. In depicting these relationships, Chopin acutely dramatizes the conflict between growing industrialism and the agrarian traditions of the Old South—as well as the changes to the land and the society that inevitably resulted from that conflict.
Editors Suzanne Disheroon Green and David J. Caudle provide meticulous annotations to the text of At Fault, facilitating the reader’s understanding of the complex and exotic culture and language of nineteenth-century Louisiana. Also included is a substantial body of supporting materials thatcontextualize the novel, ranging from a summary of critical responses to materials illuminating the economic, social, historical, and religious influences on Chopin’s texts.
The Editors: Suzanne Disheroon Green is an assistant professor of English at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. She is the co-author, with David J. Caudle, of Kate Chopin: An Annotated Bibliography of Critical Works, and co-editor with Lisa Abney, of the forthcoming Songs of the New South: Writing Contemporary Louisiana
David J. Caudle, who is completing his doctorate at the University of North Texas, has published essays and book chapters dealing with American literature and linguistic approaches to literature.
Becoming Free in the Cotton South challenges our most basic ideas about slavery and freedom in America. Instead of seeing emancipation as the beginning or the ending of the story, as most histories do, Susan Eva O’Donovan explores the perilous transition between these two conditions, offering a unique vision of both the enormous changes and the profound continuities in black life before and after the Civil War.This boldly argued work focuses on a small place—the southwest corner of Georgia—in order to explicate a big question: how did black men and black women’s experiences in slavery shape their lives in freedom? The reality of slavery’s demise is harsh: in this land where cotton was king, the promise of Reconstruction passed quickly, even as radicalism crested and swept the rest of the South. Ultimately, the lives former slaves made for themselves were conditioned and often constrained by what they had endured in bondage. O’Donovan’s significant scholarship does not diminish the heroic efforts of black Americans to make their world anew; rather, it offers troubling but necessary insight into the astounding challenges they faced.Becoming Free in the Cotton South is a moving and intimate narrative, drawing upon a multiplicity of sources and individual stories to provide new understanding of the forces that shaped both slavery and freedom, and of the generation of African Americans who tackled the passage that lay between.
In this remarkable testimony, Cuban novelist and anthropologist Miguel Barnet presents the narrative of 105-year-old Esteban Montejo, who lived as a slave, as fugitive in the wilderness, and as a soldier in the Cuban War of Independence. Honest, blunt, compassionate, shrewd, and engaging, his voice provides an extraordinary insight into the African culture that took root in the Caribbean.
Originally published in 1966, Miguel Barnet’s Biography of a Runaway Slave provides the written history of the life of Esteban Montejo, who lived as a slave, as a fugitive in the wilderness, and as a soldier fighting against Spain in the Cuban War of Independence. A new introduction by one of the most preeminent Afro-Hispanic scholars, William Luis, situates Barnet’s ethnographic strategy and lyrical narrative style as foundational for the tradition of testimonial fiction in Latin American literature. Barnet recorded his interviews with the 103-year-old Montejo at the onset of the Cuban Revolution. This insurgent’s history allows the reader into the folklore and cultural history of Afro-Cubans before and after the abolition of slavery. The book serves as an important contribution to the archive of black experience in Cuba and as a reminder of the many ways that the present continues to echo the past.
A memorable and fascinating glimpse into the Civil War home front.
Parthenia Hague experienced the Civil War while employed as a schoolteacher on a plantation near Eufaula, Alabama. This book recounts how a frightened and war-weary household dealt with privations during the blockade imposed on the South by the federal navy. The memoir of Parthenia Hague is a detailed look at the ingenious industry and self-sufficiency employed by anxious citizens as the northern army closed in.
Elizabeth Fox-Genovese is Eleonore Raoul Professor of Humanities at Emory University and author of a number of volumes, including Within the Plantation Household; Black and White Women of the Old South.
Historians have traditionally neglected relationships between slave men and women during the antebellum period. In Chains of Love, historian Emily West remedies this situation by investigating the social and cultural history of slave relationships in the very heart of the South.
Focusing on South Carolina, West deals directly with the most intimate areas of the slave experience including courtship, love and affection between spouses, the abuse of slave women by white men, and the devastating consequences of forced separations. Slaves fought these separations through cross-gender bonding and cross-plantation marriages, illustrating West's thesis about slave marriage as a fierce source of resistance to the oppression of slavery in general.
Making expert use of sources such as the Works Progress Administration narratives, slave autobiographies, slave owner records, and church records, this book-length study is the first to focus on the primacy of spousal support as a means for facing oppression. Chains of Love provides telling insights into the nature of the slave family that emerged from these tensions, celebrates its strength, and reveals new dimensions to the slaves' struggle for freedom.
Charles Joyner takes readers on a journey back in time, up the Waccamaw River through the Lowcountry of South Carolina, past abandoned rice fields once made productive by the labor of enslaved Africans, past rice mills and forest clearings into the antebellum world of All Saints Parish. In this community, and many others like it, enslaved people created a new language, a new religion--indeed, a new culture--from African traditions and American circumstances.
Joyner recovers an entire lost society and way of life from the letters, diaries, and memoirs of the plantation whites and their guests, from quantitative analysis of census and probate records, and above all from the folklore and oral history of the enslaved Americans. His classic reconstruction of daily life in All Saints Parish is an inspiring testimony to the ingenuity and solidarity of a people.
This anniversary edition of Joyner's landmark study includes a new introduction in which the author recounts his process of writing the book, reflects on its critical and popular reception, and surveys the past three decades of scholarship on the history of enslaved people in the United States.
Between 1640 and 1660, England, Scotland, and Ireland faced civil war, invasion, religious radicalism, parliamentary rule, and the restoration of the monarchy. Carla Gardina Pestana offers a sweeping history that systematically connects these cataclysmic events and the development of the infant plantations from Newfoundland to Surinam.
By 1660, the English Atlantic emerged as religiously polarized, economically interconnected, socially exploitative, and ideologically anxious about its liberties. War increased both the proportion of unfree laborers and ethnic diversity in the settlements. Neglected by London, the colonies quickly developed trade networks, especially from seafaring New England, and entered the slave trade. Barbadian planters in particular moved decisively toward slavery as their premier labor system, leading the way toward its adoption elsewhere. When by the 1650s the governing authorities tried to impose their vision of an integrated empire, the colonists claimed the rights of "freeborn English men," making a bid for liberties that had enormous implications for the rise in both involuntary servitude and slavery. Changes at home politicized religion in the Atlantic world and introduced witchcraft prosecutions.
Pestana presents a compelling case for rethinking our assumptions about empire and colonialism and offers an invaluable look at the creation of the English Atlantic world.
African-American women fought for their freedom with courage and vigor during and after the Civil War. Leslie Schwalm explores the vital roles of enslaved and formerly enslaved women on the rice plantations of lowcountry South Carolina, both in antebellum plantation life and in the wartime collapse of slavery. From there, she chronicles their efforts as freedwomen to recover from the impact of the war while redefining their lives and labor.
Freedwomen asserted their own ideas of what freedom meant and insisted on important changes in the work they performed both for white employers and in their own homes. As Schwalm shows, these women rejected the most unpleasant or demeaning tasks, guarded the prerogatives they gained under the South's slave economy, and defended their hard-won freedoms against unwanted intervention by Northern whites and the efforts of former owners to restore slavery's social and economic relations during Reconstruction. A bold challenge to entrenched notions, A Hard Fight for We places African American women at the center of the South's transition from a slave society.
The mistress of a slave-holding estate, Ida Powell Dulany took over control of the extensive family lands once her husband left to fight for the Confederacy. She struggled to manage slaves, maintain contact with her neighbors, and keep up her morale after her region was abandoned by the Confederate government soon after the beginning of hostilities.
More than just an elegantly written account of her own day-to-day experiences in the Civil War, Ida’s journal opens a window into the Southern culture of the time.
Stevan F. Meserve has written extensively for several Civil War publications and is the author of The Civil War in Loudoun County, Virginia: A History of Hard Times.
Anne Mackall Sasscer grew up on Selby, a family farm near The Plains, Virginia, the home of Ida Powell Dulany’s youngest daughter.
Mary LeJeune Mackall spent her early years at Blenheim, a pre-Revolutionary farm near Charlottesville, which inspired her lifelong interest in Virginia history.
Astonishing, tragic, and remarkable, the journal of Sarah Haynsworth Gayle, wife of early Alabama governor John Gayle, is among the most widely studied and seminal accounts of antebellum life in the American South. This is the first complete edition of the journal in print.
Bereft of the companionship of her often-absent husband, Sarah considered her journal “a substitute for social intercourse” during the period from 1827 to 1835. It became the social and intellectual companion to which she confided stories that reflected her personal life and the world of early Alabama. Sarah speaks directly to us of her loneliness, the challenges of child rearing, her fear of and frustration with the management of slaves, and the difficulty of balancing the responsibilities of a socially prominent woman with her family’s slender finances.
The poor condition of the journal and its transcripts, sometimes disintegrated or reassembled in the wrong order, has led historians to misinterpret Gayle’s words. Gayle’s descendants, Alabama’s famed Gorgases, deliberately obscured or defaced many passages. Using archival techniques to recover the text and restore the correct order, Sarah Wiggins and Ruth Truss reveal the unknown story of Sarah’s economic hardships, the question of her husband’s “temperance,” and her opium use.
The only reliable and unexpurgated edition of Sarah Gayle’s journal, now enhanced with a fascinating introduction and inset notes, The Journal of Sarah Haynsworth Gayle, 1827–1835, is a robust and gripping account and will be of inestimable value to our understanding of antebellum society, religion, intellectual culture, and slavery.
Published in cooperation with the University Libraries, The University of Alabama, with further financial support from the Library Leadership Board, the University Libraries, The University of Alabama.
The World Health Organization is currently promoting a policy of replacing traditional or lay midwives in countries around the world. As part of an effort to record the knowledge of local midwives before it is lost, Midwives and Mothers explores birth, illness, death, and survival on a Guatemalan sugar and coffee plantation, or finca, through the lives of two local midwives, Doña Maria and her daughter Doña Siriaca, and the women they have served over a forty-year period.
By comparing the practices and beliefs of the mother and daughter, Sheila Cosminsky shows the dynamics of the medicalization process and the contestation between the midwives and biomedical personnel, as the latter try to impose their system as the authoritative one. She discusses how the midwives syncretize, integrate, or reject elements from Mayan, Spanish, and biomedical systems. The midwives’ story becomes a lens for understanding the impact of medicalization on people’s lives and the ways in which women’s bodies have become contested terrain between traditional and contemporary medical practices. Cosminsky also makes recommendations for how ethno-obstetric and biomedical systems may be accommodated, articulated, or integrated. Finally, she places the changes in the birthing system in the larger context of changes in the plantation system, including the elimination of coffee growing, which has made women, traditionally the primary harvesters of coffee beans, more economically dependent on men.
Marli Weiner challenges much of the received wisdom on the domestic realm of the nineteenth-century southern plantation—a world in which white mistresses and female slaves labored together to provide food, clothing, and medicines to the larger plantation community. Black and white women, though divided by race, shared common female experiences and expectations of behavior. Influenced by work and gender as much as race, the mistresses and female slaves interacted with one another very differently than they did with men. Weiner draws on the women's own words to offer fresh interpretations of the ideology of domesticity that influenced women's race relations before the Civil War, the gradual changes in attitudes during the war, and the harsh behaviors that surfaced during Reconstruction.
My Bondage and My Freedom
Frederick Douglass University of Illinois Press, 1988 Library of Congress E449.D738 1987 | Dewey Decimal 326.0924
This is the first annotated edition of a work Eric J. Sundquist has called "a classic text of the American Renaissance." As Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has pointed out, My Bondage and My Freedom has been largely ignored by critics, in part because it is longer and less accessible than Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass but also because it has not up to now been "read" by a sensitive critic. "The latter reason is paramount and urgently needed to be addressed, and William Andrews is just the person to introduce Douglass's second autobiography to our generation of readers. He has few peers in nineteenth-century black criticism."
In this deeply researched and well-written study, Donald P. McNeilly examines how moderately wealthy planters and sons of planters immigrated into the virtually empty lands of Arkansas, seeking their fortune and to establish themselves as the leaders of a new planter aristocracy west of the Mississippi River. These men, sometimes alone, sometimes with family, and usually with slaves, sought the best land possible, cleared it, planted their crops, and erected crude houses and other buildings. Life was difficult for these would-be leaders of society and their families, and especially hard for the slaves who toiled to create fields in which they labored to produce a crop. McNeilly argues that by the time of Arkansas's statehood in 1836, planters and large farmers had secured a hold over their frontier home, and that between 1840 and the Civil War, planters solidified their hold on politics, economics, and society in Arkansas. The author takes a topical approach to the subject, with chapters on migration, slavery, non-planter whites, politics, and the secession crisis of 1860–1861. McNeilly offers a first-rate analysis of the creation of a white, cotton-based society in Arkansas, shedding light not only on the southern frontier, but also on the established Old South before the Civil War.
As a source of colonial wealth and a crucible for global culture, Jamaica has had a profound impact on the formation of the modern world system. From the island's economic and military importance to the colonial empires it has hosted and the multitude of ways in which diverse people from varied parts of the world have coexisted in and reacted against systems of inequality, Jamaica has long been a major focus of archaeological studies of the colonial period.
This volume assembles for the first time the results of nearly three decades of historical archaeology in Jamaica. Scholars present research on maritime and terrestrial archaeological sites, addressing issues such as: the early Spanish period at Seville la Nueva; the development of the first major British settlement at Port Royal; the complexities of the sugar and coffee plantation system, and the conditions prior to, and following, the abolition of slavery in Jamaica. The everyday life of African Jamaican people is examined by focusing on the development of Jamaica's internal marketing system, consumer behavior among enslaved people, iron-working and ceramic-making traditions, and the development of a sovereign Maroon society at Nanny Town.
Out of Many, One People paints a complex and fascinating picture of life in colonial Jamaica, and demonstrates how archaeology has contributed to heritage preservation on the island.
This impressive scholarly debut deftly reinterprets one of America's oldest symbols--the southern slave plantation. S. Max Edelson examines the relationships between planters, slaves, and the natural world they colonized to create the Carolina Lowcountry.
European settlers came to South Carolina in 1670 determined to possess an abundant wilderness. Over the course of a century, they settled highly adaptive rice and indigo plantations across a vast coastal plain. Forcing slaves to turn swampy wastelands into productive fields and to channel surging waters into elaborate irrigation systems, planters initiated a stunning economic transformation.
The result, Edelson reveals, was two interdependent plantation worlds. A rough rice frontier became a place of unremitting field labor. With the profits, planters made Charleston and its hinterland into a refined, diversified place to live. From urban townhouses and rural retreats, they ran multiple-plantation enterprises, looking to England for affirmation as agriculturists, gentlemen, and stakeholders in Britain's American empire. Offering a new vision of the Old South that was far from static, Edelson reveals the plantations of early South Carolina to have been dynamic instruments behind an expansive process of colonization.
With a bold interdisciplinary approach, Plantation Enterprise reconstructs the environmental, economic, and cultural changes that made the Carolina Lowcountry one of the most prosperous and repressive regions in the Atlantic world.
In her perceptive chronicle of everyday life on an Arkansas plantation, Harriet Bailey Bullock Daniel sheds light on the plantation economy, medical practices, religion, slavery, and sex roles in the period from 1849 until Daniel's marriage in 1872. The work is a rich mixture of mundane details surrounded by momentous events, and Daniel's sure grasp of both provides enjoyment and enlightenment for any reader.
In this ambitious project, historian Katrina Thompson examines the conceptualization and staging of race through the performance, sometimes coerced, of black dance from the slave ship to the minstrel stage. Drawing on a rich variety of sources, Thompson explicates how black musical performance was used by white Europeans and Americans to justify enslavement, perpetuate the existing racial hierarchy, and mask the brutality of the domestic slave trade. Whether on slave ships, at the auction block, or on plantations, whites often used coerced performances to oppress and demean the enslaved.
As Thompson shows, however, blacks' "backstage" use of musical performance often served quite a different purpose. Through creolization and other means, enslaved people preserved some native musical and dance traditions and invented or adopted new traditions that built community and even aided rebellion.
Thompson shows how these traditions evolved into nineteenth-century minstrelsy and, ultimately, raises the question of whether today's mass media performances and depictions of African Americans are so very far removed from their troublesome roots.
Grounded in Charles Joyner's unique blend of rigorous scholarship and genuine curiosity, these thoughtful and incisive essays by the eminent southern historian and folklorist explore the South's extraordinary amalgam of cultural traditions.
By examining the mutual influence of history and folk culture, Shared Traditions reveals the essence of southern culture in the complex and dynamic interactions of descendants of Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans. The book covers a broad spectrum of southern folk groups, folklore expressions, and major themes of southern history, including antebellum society, slavery, the coming of the Civil War, economic modernization in the Appalachians and the Sea Islands, immigration, the civil rights movement, and the effects of cultural tourism.
Joyner addresses the convergence of African and European elements in the Old South and explores how specific environmental and demographic features shaped the acculturation process. He discusses divergent practices in worship services, funeral and burial services, and other religious ceremonies. He examines links between speech patterns and cultural patterns, the influence of Irish folk culture in the American South, and the southern Jewish experience. He also investigates points of intersection between history and legend and relations between the new social history and folklore.
Ranging from rites of power and resistance on the slave plantation to the creolization of language to the musical brew of blues, country, jazz, and rock, Shared Traditions reveals the distinctive culture born of a sharing by black and white southerners of their deep-rooted and diverse traditions.
This book is the first anthology of the autobiographical writings of Peter Randolph, a prominent nineteenth-century former slave who became a black abolitionist, pastor, and community leader.
Randolph’s story is unique because he was freed and relocated from Virginia to Boston, along with his entire plantation cohort. A lawsuit launched by Randolph against his former master’s estate left legal documents that corroborate his autobiographies.
Randolph's writings give us a window into a different experience of slavery and freedom than other narratives currently available and will be of interest to students and scholars of African American literature, history, and religious studies, as well as those with an interest in Virginia history and mid-Atlantic slavery.
Slave Emancipation in Cuba is the classic study of the end of slavery in Cuba. Rebecca J. Scott explores the dynamics of Cuban emancipation, arguing that slavery was not simply abolished by the metropolitan power of Spain or abandoned because of economic contradictions. Rather, slave emancipation was a prolonged, gradual and conflictive process unfolding through a series of social, legal, and economic transformations.
Scott demonstrates that slaves themselves helped to accelerate the elimination of slavery. Through flight, participation in nationalist insurgency, legal action, and self-purchase, slaves were able to force the issue, helping to dismantle slavery piece by piece. With emancipation, former slaves faced transformed, but still very limited, economic options. By the end of the nineteenth-century, some chose to join a new and ultimately successful rebellion against Spanish power.
In a new afterword, prepared for this edition, the author reflects on the complexities of postemancipation society, and on recent developments in historical methodology that make it possible to address these questions in new ways.
Born into slavery on a Tennessee plantation, John McCline escaped from bondage, worked for the Union Army in the Civil War, and eventually found a new life in the American West. Slavery in the Clover Bottoms is his own story, recollected in later years, of his life as a slave and as a free man.
McCline’s memoirs, completed in the 1920s and now published for the first time, vividly describe the James Hoggatt plantation in Davidson County: the work and routine of slaves; their religious, family, and social life; the behavior of the overseers; and the atmosphere of violence under Mrs. Hoggatt’s omnipresent whip. McCline tells of how he worked with livestock, a boy doing a man’s job, until he ran away with the Thirteenth Infantry of Michigan late in 1862, when he was little more than ten years old. For the next two-and-a-half years, young John worked as a teamster and officers’ servant, and during that time he witnessed some of the Civil War’s most famous battles—such as Murfreesboro, Chickamauga Creek, and Lookout Mountain—as well as Sherman’s march through Georgia.
McCline worked in Michigan, Chicago, and St. Louis after the war. He eventually made his way to Colorado, where his skill with horses helped him find employment with James John Hagerman, whose son Herbert would later be appointed governor of New Mexico Territory. McCline lived in Santa Fe from 1906 until his death in 1948 and became a leader in that city’s black community. During that period Herbert Hagerman encouraged McCline to write his memoirs and contributed an introduction that also appears in this volume. Jan Furman’s introduction puts McCline’s story in context, and her notes to the text clarify references.
Slavery in the Clover Bottoms joins an important body of newly published slave narratives. It provides a vast amount of firsthand detail about slavery and the Civil War and is particularly notable for presenting a former slave’s perspective on Sherman’s march. Its compelling story spans a continent and tells us much about relationships between the races in the middle and late nineteenth century.
This is the most thorough analysis of slavery on the Georgia coast that we likely ever have. Based on extensive examination of probate records and statistics, she fully integrates the roots of African slavery into the long history of slavery in Georgia.
Southern Womanhood and Slavery is the first full-length biography of Louisa S. McCord, one of the most intriguing intellectuals in antebellum America. The daughter of South Carolina planter and politician Langdon Cheves, and an essayist in her own right, McCord supported unregulated free trade and the perpetuation of slavery and opposed the advancement of women’s rights. This study examines the origins of her ideas.
Leigh Fought constructs an exciting narrative that follows McCord from her childhood as the daughter of a state representative and president of the Bank of the United States through her efforts to accept her position as wife and mother, her career as an author and plantation mistress, and the Union invasion of South Carolina during the Civil War, to the end of her life in the emerging New South. Fought analyzes McCord’s poetry, letters, and essays in an effort to comprehend her acceptance of slavery and the submission of women. Fought concludes that McCord came to a defense of slavery through her experience with free labor in the North, which also reinforced her faith in the paternalist model for preserving social order.
McCord’s life as a writer on “unfeminine” subjects, her reputation as strong-minded and masculine, her late marriage, her continued ownership of her plantation after marriage, and her position as the matron of a Civil War hospital contradicted her own philosophy that women should remain the quiet force behind their husbands. She lived during a time of social flux in which free labor, slavery, and the role of women underwent dramatic changes, as well as a time that enabled her to discover and pursue her intellectual ambitions. Fought examines the conflict that resulted when those ambitions clashed with McCord’s role as a woman in the society of the South.
McCord’s voice was an interesting, articulate, and necessary feminine addition to antebellum white ideology. Moreover, her story demonstrates the ways in which southern women negotiated through patriarchy without surrendering their sense of self or disrupting the social order. Engaging and very readable, Southern Womanhood and Slavery will be of special interest to students of southern history and women’s studies, as well as to the general reader.
Forty years ago, after publication of his pathbreaking book Sugar and Slaves, Richard Dunn began an intensive investigation of two thousand slaves living on two plantations, one in North America and one in the Caribbean. Digging deeply into the archives, he has reconstructed the individual lives and collective experiences of three generations of slaves on the Mesopotamia sugar estate in Jamaica and the Mount Airy plantation in tidewater Virginia, to understand the starkly different forms slavery could take. Dunn’s stunning achievement is a rich and compelling history of bondage in two very different Atlantic world settings.
From the mid-eighteenth century to emancipation in 1834, life in Mesopotamia was shaped and stunted by deadly work regimens, rampant disease, and dependence on the slave trade for new laborers. At Mount Airy, where the population continually expanded until emancipation in 1865, the “surplus” slaves were sold or moved to distant work sites, and families were routinely broken up. Over two hundred of these Virginia slaves were sent eight hundred miles to the Cotton South.
In the genealogies that Dunn has painstakingly assembled, we can trace a Mesopotamia fieldhand through every stage of her bondage, and contrast her harsh treatment with the fortunes of her rebellious mulatto son and clever quadroon granddaughter. We track a Mount Airy craftworker through a stormy life of interracial sex, escape, and family breakup. The details of individuals’ lives enable us to grasp the full experience of both slave communities as they labored and loved, and ultimately became free.
Easily the most controversial antislavery novel written in antebellum America, and one of the best-selling books of the nineteenth century, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is often credited with intensifying the sectional conflict that led to the Civil War. In his introduction, David Bromwich places Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel in its Victorian contexts and reminds us why it is an enduring work of literary and moral imagination.The John Harvard Library text follows the first American edition, published by John P. Jewett & Company.
“I imagine everyone has a center of gravity,” says Ellen Bromfield Geld. “Something which binds one to the earth and gives sense and direction to what one does.” For Ellen, this center is a writing table before a window that looks out upon groves of pecan trees and mahogany-colored cattle in seas of grass. The place is Fazenda Pau D’Alho, Brazil, where she and her husband, Carson, have lived and farmed since 1961.
Healing the ravaged coffee plantation, rearing five children, exploring the outposts, the Gelds have created a dynamic yet peaceful life far from Ellen’s native Ohio. Their practice of sustainable agriculture, and Ellen’s plea for the preservation of Brazil’s remaining wilderness areas, reflect the legacy of her father, the novelist and farm visionary Louis Bromfield. Their shared vision is crystallized in her account of a cattle drive across the Pantanal, the vast flood plain on Brazil’s side of the Paraguay River. She describes a two-hundred year symbiosis between ranchers and a fragile ecosystem that is being threatened by development.
View from the Fazenda is distilled from fifty years of living in Brazil, weaving daily life on the farm into her quest to understand a nation. It portrays a true melting pot of people who—as conquerers, immigrants, or slaves, their blood and history mingled with those of native Indians—have created the character of Brazil. This huge, diverse county, living in several eras at the same time, is ever changing through its people’s amazing ability to “find a way.”
Ellen Bromfield Geld evokes the land and people of Brazil and offers readers an invigorating glimpse into a soulful life. “It seems to me that being a bit of a poet is perhaps the only way one can survive as a farmer,” she explains. “For in the end, more than anything, farming is a way of life you either love or become bitter enduring.”