The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry

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KansasFreestater

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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.
 

Patrick H

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Freestater,
I remember how terribly upset I was back in the late 70s when I was first confronted with the thought that there were probably slave breeding operations in some areas--even a few farms in my home county. It shouldn't have surprised me. (Shocked, yes. Surprised, no.)
 

Drew

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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.
I'm having a pretty hard time with this. Charleston was "colonial America's slave importing and exporting port?"

Really?

The rest of it is about as silly. We can do better than this.
 
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Pvt.Shattuck

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I hate slavery, man. It is just so wrong. If I lived back then, I swear I would have totally fought against it.
 

James B White

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I'm having a pretty hard time with this. Charleston was "colonial America's slave importing and exporting port?"

Really?

The rest of it is about as silly. We can do better than this.
What is incorrect about the information? Not an era I'm familiar with, but a quick google shows things like "Barbadians [in lowcountry Carolina] were especially involved in developing an American Indian slave trade in Carolina to the West Indies." And many other sites saying 40% or more of African slaves were imported to Charleston in the colonial era.
 

Drew

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What is incorrect about the information? Not an era I'm familiar with, but a quick google shows things like "Barbadians [in lowcountry Carolina] were especially involved in developing an American Indian slave trade in Carolina to the West Indies." And many other sites saying 40% or more of African slaves were imported to Charleston in the colonial era.
Charleston in the 17th century was a tiny little trading post. That's what's the matter with the information.

The Atlantic slave trade at that time was run out of New England. Like I said, we can do better than this.
 
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James B White

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Charleston in the 17th century was a tiny little trading post. That's what's the matter with the information.

The Atlantic slave trade at that time was run out of New England. Like I said, we can do better than this.
But it isn't talking about who was manning the ships. It says Charleston was the major importer, presumably in the 18th century since it says after the Native American trade in the late 17th. Was Charleston not the major importer? Are all those 40%-plus figures wrong and most slaves were being landed at Boston or New York?

Not every bit of slave trade history has to include a dig at New England. There's also factual information about who was buying the majority of the slaves, and if not men in the Charleston area, then who?
 

Elennsar

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http://www.charlestonsfinest.com/articles/early-charleston.htm
"By 1770 it was the fourth largest port in the colonies following Boston, New York and Philadelphia. With a population of 11,000, Charleston became the wealthiest and largest city south of Philadelphia."

http://www.shmoop.com/ideological-origins-of-american-revolution/statistics.html
Population of Boston in 1775: 16,000
…of Newport, Rhode Island: 11,000
…of New York City: 25,000
…of Philadelphia: 33,500
…of Charleston, South Carolina: 12,000.

https://books.google.com/books?id=J5s9eC0YwXgC&pg=PA50&lpg=PA50&dq=Charleston+South+CArolina+population+11,000+colonial&source=bl&ots=Kg2aWONt06&sig=lUNwJzLf8z9_mFQea1qkdwpDqTc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CE0Q6AEwCGoVChMIzN7S9bK-yAIVT8NjCh1BdQZ7#v=onepage&q=Charleston South CArolina population 11,000 colonial&f=false

Also mentions Charleston as the fourth largest seaport of the colonies and eleven thousand people "by the end of the Seven Years War".

https://books.google.com/books?id=fX5hhfpW-PIC&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=Charleston+South+CArolina+population+11,000+colonial&source=bl&ots=-TOXdMtYBo&sig=Y4sACfhivKwczIudcSupAX6RHtg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CBwQ6AEwADgKahUKEwiOqvrEs77IAhVO7mMKHfPAAq8#v=onepage&q=Charleston South CArolina population 11,000 colonial&f=false

11,000 by 1770.

Not sure what it was in the 17th century, but if its the main importer and exporter in the 18th, this seems more relevant.
 

Allie

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I clearly spend too much time on genealogy sites - but I can't help noticing that some Sublettes lived next door to my ancestors in Charlotte county, VA, during the war. I wonder if the authors' interest goes back to ancestors who were slave owners in Virginia. It seems like an unusual surname.

Looking up the authors - the couple who wrote this are an interesting pair. He is a musician who among other things wrote the Willie Nelson hit, "Cowboys are Frequently Secretly fond of each other" and she wrote a fantasy trilogy about a girl who can talk to horses.
 
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Drew

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But it isn't talking about who was manning the ships. It says Charleston was the major importer, presumably in the 18th century since it says after the Native American trade in the late 17th. Was Charleston not the major importer? Are all those 40%-plus figures wrong and most slaves were being landed at Boston or New York?

Not every bit of slave trade history has to include a dig at New England. There's also factual information about who was buying the majority of the slaves, and if not men in the Charleston area, then who?
Why is this a "dig" on New England? It simply was what it was.

Charleston is called out in the OP as a major "17th century" importer of slaves. That's simply not true. There just wasn't any there there in the 17th century.

A pp has shown us about 11,000 people in 1770. That would be the 18th century and late at that, but not the 17th. I don't know if it's the right number, but probably close enough, in the late 18th century.

We're talking about a trading post here. Not much more.
 

Allie

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Why is this a "dig" on New England? It simply was what it was.

Charleston is called out in the OP as a major "17th century" importer of slaves. That's simply not true. There just wasn't any there there in the 17th century.

A pp has shown us about 11,000 people in 1770. That would be the 18th century and late at that, but not the 17th. I don't know if it's the right number, but probably close enough, in the late 18th century.

We're talking about a trading post here. Not much more.
The original post doesn't specify 17th century Charleston. 17th century Carolina. Colonial Charleston.
 

Drew

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The original post doesn't specify 17th century Charleston. 17th century Carolina. Colonial Charleston.
Good point, but it does call out the 17th century. It also calls Charleston "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."

I would like to know if the authors of the book in the OP have presented defensible numbers with respect to the importation of slaves into Rhode Island vs. South Carolina during the 17th century.
 
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Allie

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Good point, but it does call out the 17th century. It also calls Charleston "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."

I would like to know if the authors of the book in the OP have presented defensible numbers with respect to the importation of slaves into Rhode Island vs. South Carolina during the 17th century.
The quote is from a review. I wouldn't put too much stock in it. The review writer may have misunderstood.
 

virginiaworm

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fwiw...
Correct me if I'm wrong but the OP is a 'review' of the book.
The reviewer may not be a 100% accurate... but he doesn't seem too far off. He seems to be focused on two states Virgina and SC.

I didn't read the book, but the post doesn't seem like it is too far off base. At least to me.
fwiw... this is listed in wiki.



"During the early 17th Century, it was difficult to acquire enslaved Africans north of the Caribbean. To meet labor needs, European colonists had practiced Indian slavery for some time.



The Carolinians transformed the Indian slave trade during the late 17th and early 18th centuries by treating slaves as a trade commodity to be exported, mainly to the West Indies. Alan Gallay estimates that between 1670 and 1715, between 24,000 and 51,000 Native Americans were captured and sold, from South Carolina — many more than the number of African slaves imported into the colonies of the future United States during the same period.[7]



A major establishment of African slavery in the North American colonies occurred with the founding of Charles Town and South Carolina, beginning in 1670. The colony was settled mainly by planters from the overpopulated sugar island colony of Barbados, who brought relatively large numbers of African slaves from that island.[8]
- wiki
 

krvaldovinos

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The rest of it is about as silly. We can do better than this.
We can do better than what? Who is we? What is silly about women being treated like broodmares?

"...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."

I'm surprised (and somewhat disgusted) anyone would say that that is silly.
 
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Elennsar

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Good point, but it does call out the 17th century. It also calls Charleston "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."

I would like to know if the authors of the book in the OP have presented defensible numbers with respect to the importation of slaves into Rhode Island vs. South Carolina during the 17th century.
I don't know much about Chareleston's history, I just googled its 18th century population first.

But none of the American cities were especially large, so it wouldn't take much for a not very large Charleston to be both "colonial America's slave importing and exporting port" and for that to have started "in the late seventeenth century" - it doesn't mean much for it to be say, three thousand people if the large place in colonial NA is five or six.

Numbers pulled out of a hat because no one in this thread has provided any source for facts on 17th century Charleston vs. anything.
 

Drew

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We can do better than what? Who is we? What is silly about women being treated like broodmares?

"...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."

I'm surprised (and somewhat disgusted) anyone would say that that is silly.
Maybe you should be the one to read the book and report back to us. We'll be especially interested in the primary sources presented and discussed.

I may have lost my lunch prematurely over the "review" that describes Charleston in the 17th century. It's just wrong but as others have pointed out, it's the review and not the book.
 

ForeverFree

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I'm having a pretty hard time with this. Charleston was "colonial America's slave importing and exporting port?"

Really?

The rest of it is about as silly. We can do better than this.
Charleston is called out in the OP as a major "17th century" importer of slaves. That's simply not true. There just wasn't any there there in the 17th century.

A pp has shown us about 11,000 people in 1770. That would be the 18th century and late at that, but not the 17th. I don't know if it's the right number, but probably close enough, in the late 18th century.

We're talking about a trading post here. Not much more.
I got a chance to read briefly from the book. This is an excerpt from the book:

According to database backed estimates by David Feltes and David Richardson, only about 389,000 kidnaped Africans Word disembark in the courts of the present-day United States, the majority of them before or independence.

Region: Estimated number of African captives.

Chesapeake Virginia and Maryland: 129,000
Lowcountry South Carolina and Georgia: 211,000
New England and mid-Atlantic: 27,000
Gulf Coast: 22,000

Total to Area of Present Day US: 389,000​

Those numbers match the info presented on The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database website.

EDIT: The Lowcountry number includes both Carolinas, according to The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database website.

EDIT: These numbers cover the period from 1501-1867.

This does not establish Charleston itself as a major importer of slaves. But it does seem to indicate that the Lowcountry took in the plurality of slaves that were captured from Africa and taken to what us now the US. If I can get back to the bookstore I might be able to get more info.

- Alan
 
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