- Mar 14, 2014
The American Slave Coast
A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry
752 Pages, 6 x 9
Formats: Cloth, Mobipocket, EPUB, PDF
Cloth, $35.00 (US $35.00) (Canada $42.00)
Chicago Review Press (Oct 2015)
Book description at Amazon:
The American Slave Coast tells the horrific story of how the slavery business in the United States made the reproductive labor of “breeding women” essential to the expansion of the nation. The book shows how slaves’ children, and their children’s children, were human savings accounts that were the basis of money and credit. This was so deeply embedded in the economy of the slave states that it could only be decommissioned by Emancipation, achieved through the bloodiest war in the history of the United States. The American Slave Coast is an alternative history of the United States that presents the slavery business, as well as familiar historical figures and events, in a revealing new light.In his review of the book at AlterNet, Steven Rosenfeld praises the authors for their coverage of many lesser-known but hugely important aspects of slavery, such as the differences between the competing slave economies of Virginia and South Carolina:
Virginia was the epicenter of a slave breeding industry, in which enslaved women were expected to be constantly pregnant, were sold off if they didn't produce children, and sometimes were force-mated to achieve that end. The offspring were sold to newer settlers and those migrating west. Charleston, South Carolina, in contrast, was colonial America’s slave importing and exporting port. In the late seventeenth century, Carolina exported captured Native Americans as slaves to Caribbean plantation islands, gradually replacing them with imported laborers. As the South was emptied of Native Americans and American plantations grew, South Carolina became the major slave importer in the colonies and in the early republic. Virginia eventually won out when Congress, at President Thomas Jefferson's urging, banned slave importation as of January 1, 1808—protectionism, say the Sublettes, for Virginia's slave-breeding industry, and sold to the public as protection against the alleged terrorism of "French negroes" from Haiti. After that, a new interstate slave trade grew, propelled by territories and new states that wanted slavery, and by the breeders who wanted new markets. Thus, the slave-breeding economy spread south and west, driving the expansion of the U.S. into new territories.So what makes this book different from hundreds of other volumes about slavery? For one thing, it focuses on how the the slaves' "reproductive labor" was essential in the growth of the United States, both geographically and economically.
Another distinguishing feature of this book is the way the authors, who have extensive knowledge of Caribbean cultures, compare slavery in the United States to the different forms that it took in the French and Spanish colonies of the Caribbean.
Looks like a painful but enlightening and necessary book.