The Political Economy of Slavery: Studies in the Economy and Society of the Slave South, Edition 2

Wesleyan University Press
Free sample

A stimulating analysis of the society and economy in the slave south.
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About the author

EUGENE D. GENOVESE is Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Rochester. In 1987-88 he was on leave at the Humanities Research Center in Research Triangle park, North Carolina, and in 1988-89 he was visiting professor at William and Mary. GENOVESE is former president (1979) of the Organization of American Historians and winner of the Bancroft Prize in 1974 for Roll, Jordan, Roll. He has written, in addition to The Political Economy of Slavery and Roll, Jordan, Roll, The World the Slaveholders Made (Wesleyan 1988), In Red and Black, From Rebellion to Revolution, and, with Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Fruits of Merchant Capital. He is a graduate of Brooklyn College (B.A. 1953) and Columbia University (Ph.D. 1959). He has been visiting professor at Columbia, Yale, and Tulane and Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University. His home is in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Wesleyan University Press
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Published on
Jun 1, 2014
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780819575272
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
Social Science / Slavery
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This content is DRM protected.
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Originating with the birth of the nation itself, in many respects, the story of the domestic slave trade is also the story of the early United States. While an external traffic in slaves had always been present, following the American Revolution this was replaced by a far more vibrant internal trade. Most importantly, an interregional commerce in slaves developed that turned human property into one of the most valuable forms of investment in the country, second only to land. In fact, this form of property became so valuable that when threatened with its ultimate extinction in 1860, southern slave owners believed they had little alternative but to leave the Union. Therefore, while the interregional trade produced great wealth for many people, and the nation, it also helped to tear the country apart. The domestic slave trade likewise played a fundamental role in antebellum American society. Led by professional traders, who greatly resembled northern entrepreneurs, this traffic was a central component in the market revolution of the early nineteenth century. In addition, the development of an extensive local trade meant that the domestic trade, in all its configurations, was a prominent feature in southern life. Yet, this indispensable part of the slave system also raised many troubling questions. For those outside the South, it affected their impression of both the region and the new nation. For slaveholders, it proved to be the most difficult part of their institution to defend. And for those who found themselves commodities in this trade, it was something that needed to be resisted at all costs. Carry Me Back restores the domestic slave trade to the prominent place that it deserves in early American history, exposing the many complexities of southern slavery and antebellum American life.
Since the earliest days of colonial America, the relationship between cotton and the African-American experience has been central to the history of the republic. America's most serious social tragedy, slavery and its legacy, spread only where cotton could be grown. Both before and after the Civil War, blacks were assigned to the cotton fields while a pervasive racial animosity and fear of a black migratory invasion caused white Northerners to contain blacks in the South.

Gene Dattel's pioneering study explores the historical roots of these most central social issues. In telling detail Mr. Dattel shows why the vastly underappreciated story of cotton is a key to understanding America's rise to economic power. When cotton production exploded to satiate the nineteenth-century textile industry's enormous appetite, it became the first truly complex global business and thereby a major driving force in U.S. territorial expansion and sectional economic integration. It propelled New York City to commercial preeminence and fostered independent trade between Europe and the United States, providing export capital for the new nation to gain its financial "sea legs" in the world economy. Without slave-produced cotton, the South could never have initiated the Civil War, America's bloodiest conflict at home.

Mr. Dattel's skillful historical analysis identifies the commercial forces that cotton unleashed and the pervasive nature of racial antipathy it produced. This is a story that has never been told in quite the same way before, related here with the authority of a historian with a profound knowledge of the history of international finance. With 23 black-and-white illustrations.
In perhaps his most provocative book Eugene Genovese examines the slave revolts of the New World and places them in the context of modern world history. By studying the conditions that favored these revolts and the history of slave guerrilla warfare throughout the western hemisphere, he connects the ideology of the revolts to that of the great revolutionary movements of the late eighteenth century.
Genovese argues compellingly that the slave revolts of the New World shaped the democratic character of contemporary European struggles just as forcefully as European struggles influenced New World rebellion. The revolts, however, had a different purpose before as well as after the era of the French Revolution. Before, their goals were restoration of African-type village communities and local autonomy; after, they merged with larger national and international revolutionary movements and had profound effect on the shaping of modern world politics.
Toussaint L'Ouverture's brilliant leadership of the successful slave revolt in Saint-Dominique constitutes, for Genovese, a turning point in the history of slave revolts, and, indeed, in the history of the human spirit. By claiming for his enslaved brothers and sisters the same right to human dignity that the French bourgeoisie claimed for itself, Toussiant began the process by which slave uprisings changed from secessionist rebellions to revolutionary demands for liberty, equality, and justice.
Those who have taken issue with Genovesse before will find little in From Rebellion to Revolution to change their minds. The book is sure to be widely read, hotly debated, and a major influence on the way future historians view slavery.
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