The latest issue of Slavery & Abolition includes the following articles:
Scrambling for Slaves: Captive Sales in Colonial South Carolina
The Penalty of a Tyrant’s Law: Landscapes of Incarceration during the
Kelly Birch & Thomas C. Buchanan
The British Honduras Colony: Black Emigrationist Support for
Colonization in the Lincoln Presidency
Phillip W. Magness
The Presence of Black African Women in the Slave System of Cadiz
Arturo Morgado García
Why Joanna Baptista Sold Herself into Slavery: Indian Women in
Portuguese Amazonia, 1755–1798
Barbara A. Sommer
Slavery, Empire and Civilization: A Luso-Brazilian Defense of the
Slave Trade in the Age of Revolutions
Brazilian Gold, Cuban Copper and the Final Frontier of British
From Bondage to Freedom on the Red Sea Coast: Manumitted Slaves in
Egyptian Massawa, 1873–1885
Esmé R. Cleall. “Emancipation, Slave-Ownership and the Remaking of The British Imperial World, University College London, 29–31 March 2012.” History Workshop Journal 75, no. 1 (April 1, 2013): 307–310.
This conference came out of the ESRC-funded Legacies of British Slave-Ownership Project (LBS) at University College London. Since April 2009 the LBS group has been investigating the legacies of British slavery, and in particular, the afterlife of the £20 million paid to slave-owners in compensation for the loss of their ‘property’ on the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833. Nick Draper has been exploring the financial and economic legacies of the £20 million, including its reinvestment in the railways and the financial City of London. Catherine Hall has been tracing the cultural memory of slave-ownership and the rewriting of histories of Britain’s involvement in slavery over the course of the nineteenth century, particularly in the writings of the descendants of slave-owners. Keith McClelland has been tracing the political legacies of the slave-owners, including the enduring power of those who had received compensation money in the British Parliament, their representation of themselves as victims of abolition, the rewriting of their history to align themselves with anti-slavery and their search for new forms of labour and work discipline. With Rachel Lang and Ben Mechan the group have also constructed an online public database of slave-owners at the point of abolition; held six public-engagement workshops across Britain to bring together academic, community and family historians of slavery; and curated an exhibition on the ‘Slave-owners of Bloomsbury’. Katie Donnington’s forthcoming PhD on the Hibbert Family is also a valuable part of this project as is the Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership, based on the group’s findings, which will be published shortly. The conference was thoughtfully constructed to share, discuss and extend some of the core questions raised by the LBS research group – What was the character of the British imperial state? What happened to the planters and slave economy after slavery had been abolished? What free forms of labour were established? And how can historians connect with the public, museums and artists to explore these issues?
Emily Clark. The Strange History of the American Quadroon: Free Women of Color in the Revolutionary Atlantic World. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.
Exotic, seductive, and doomed: the antebellum mixed-race free woman of color has long operated as a metaphor for New Orleans. Commonly known as a “quadroon,” she and the city she represents rest irretrievably condemned in the popular historical imagination by the linked sins of slavery and interracial sex. However, as Emily Clark shows, the rich archives of New Orleans tell a different story. Free women of color with ancestral roots in New Orleans were as likely to marry in the 1820s as white women. And marriage, not concubinage, was the basis of their family structure. In The Strange History of the American Quadroon, Clark investigates how the narrative of the erotic colored mistress became an elaborate literary and commercial trope, persisting as a symbol that long outlived the political and cultural purposes for which it had been created. Untangling myth and memory, she presents a dramatically new and nuanced understanding of the myths and realities of New Orleans’s free women of color.
Africa in Words is running a series of posts on Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of its release. Click here to read the second post of the series and here to read the third.
Nara Improta begins with a review of the famous work:
“This year, Gilroy’s Black Atlantic completed twenty years of its publication. This book has been used by many scholars in history, anthropology, literature and sociology, and became very influential. It also provoked many criticisms. This is the first of a series of posts about the uses of Black Atlantic in recent scholarly production. Africa in Words invited academics to write about how they used Gilroy’s theories and concepts in their own work.
In this post I will (try to) explain some aspects of the concept of Black Atlantic, as proposed by Gilroy in his book. This is a big task since, throughout the book; the concept seems to acquire a very complex meaning. Some authors even think that Gilroy himself uses Black Atlantic with different definitions….”
Hilary Jones. The Métis of Senegal: Urban Life and Politics in French West Africa. Indiana University Press, 2013.
The Métis of Senegal is a history of politics and society among an influential group of mixed-race people who settled in coastal Africa under French colonialism. Hilary Jones describes how the métis carved out a niche as middleman traders for European merchants. As the colonial presence spread, the métis entered into politics and began to assert their position as local elites and power brokers against French rule. Many of the descendants of these traders continue to wield influence in contemporary Senegal. Jones’s nuanced portrait of métis ascendency examines the influence of family connections, marriage negotiations, and inheritance laws from both male and female perspectives.
Margaret Washington. Sojourner Truth’s America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.
“This fascinating biography tells the story of nineteenth-century America through the life of one of its most charismatic and influential characters: Sojourner Truth. In an in-depth account of this amazing activist, Margaret Washington unravels Sojourner Truth’s world within the broader panorama of African American slavery and the nation’s most significant reform era.
Born into bondage among the Hudson Valley Dutch in Ulster County, New York, Isabella was sold several times, married, and bore five children before fleeing in 1826 with her infant daughter one year before New York slavery was abolished. In 1829, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a domestic, preached, joined a religious commune, and then in 1843 had an epiphany. Changing her name to Sojourner Truth, she began traveling the country as a champion of the downtrodden and a spokeswoman for equality by promoting Christianity, abolitionism, and women’s rights.
Gifted in verbal eloquence, wit, and biblical knowledge, Sojourner Truth possessed an earthy, imaginative, homespun personality that won her many friends and admirers and made her one of the most popular and quoted reformers of her times. Washington’s biography of this remarkable figure considers many facets of Sojourner Truth’s life to explain how she became one of the greatest activists in American history, including her African and Dutch religious heritage; her experiences of slavery within contexts of labor, domesticity, and patriarchy; and her profoundly personal sense of justice and intuitive integrity.
Organized chronologically into three distinct eras of Truth’s life, Sojourner Truth’s America examines the complex dynamics of her times, beginning with the transnational contours of her spirituality and early life as Isabella and her embroilments in legal controversy. Truth’s awakening during nineteenth-century America’s progressive surge then propelled her ascendancy as a rousing preacher and political orator despite her inability to read and write. Throughout the book, Washington explores Truth’s passionate commitment to family and community, including her vision for a beloved community that extended beyond race, gender, and socioeconomic condition and embraced a common humanity. For Sojourner Truth, the significant model for such communalism was a primitive, prophetic Christianity.
Illustrated with dozens of images of Truth and her contemporaries, Sojourner Truth’s America draws a delicate and compelling balance between Sojourner Truth’s personal motivations and the influences of her historical context. Washington provides important insights into the turbulent cultural and political climate of the age while also separating the many myths from the facts concerning this legendary American figure.”
Featured Image Credit: Sculptor Artis Lane, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congresswoman Jackson Lee unveiling Sojourner Truth bust at the U.S. Capitol on April 28, 2009, via Dipnote: U.S. Department of State Official Blog
Vincent Carretta. Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.
“With Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), Phillis Wheatley (1753?–1784) became the first English-speaking person of African descent to publish a book and only the second woman—of any race or background— to do so in America. Written in Boston while she was just a teenager, and when she was still a slave, Wheatley’s work was an international sensation. In Phillis Wheatley, Vincent Carretta offers the first full-length biography of a figure whose origins and later life have remained shadowy despite her iconic status.
A scholar with extensive knowledge of transatlantic literature and history, Carretta uncovers new details about Wheatley’s origins, her upbringing, and how she gained freedom. Carretta solves the mystery of John Peters, correcting the record of when he and Wheatley married and revealing what became of him after her death. Assessing Wheatley’s entire body of work, Carretta discusses the likely role she played in the production, marketing, and distribution of her writing. Wheatley developed a remarkable transatlantic network that transcended racial, class, political, religious, and geographical boundaries. Carretta reconstructs that network and sheds new light on her religious and political identities. In the course of his research he discovered the earliest poem attributable to Wheatley and has included it and other unpublished poems in the biography.
Carretta relocates Wheatley from the margins to the center of her eighteenth-century transatlantic world, revealing the fascinating life of a woman who rose from the indignity of enslavement to earn wide recognition, only to die in obscurity a few years later.”
Geoffrey Sanborn. “‘People Will Pay to Hear the Drama’: Plagiarism in Clotel.” African American Review 45, no. 1 (2012): 65–82.
It is no secret that William Wells Brown did not write everything that appears under his name in Clotel; or, the President’s Daughter, the first published novel by an African American. Since 1969, when William Edward Farrison published an edition of Clotel with extensive notes on Brown’s sources, scholars have known that Brown lifted passages from Lydia Maria Child’s “The Quadroons,” John Reilly Beard’s The Life of Touissant L’Ouverture, Bishop William Meade’s Sermons Addressed to Masters and Servants, and Theodore Weld’s Slavery As It Is. Almost all of chapters four and eight and part of chapter twenty-three are taken from “The Quadroons”; the opening of chapter twenty-three and ten sentences in chapter twenty-four are taken from The Life of Touissant L’Ouverture; eight paragraphs in chapter six are taken from Meade’s collection; and four sentences from Weld’s introduction appear in chapter sixteen. Elsewhere, Farrison shows, Brown recycles some of his own previously published material, reprints a poem by Grace Greenwood without identifying her as the author, and incorporates newspaper articles without citing their actual sources.1 In the latter cases, Brown does not actually represent the work of another writer as his own; at most, he simply leaves open the possibility that he composed the passages. The same is true of several similar cases identified by Robert S. Levine in his 2000 edition of Clotel.2 In a 2005 online edition of the novel, however, Christopher Mulvey reported the discovery of six more plagiarized passages, four of which are voiced by Georgiana Carlton, the most lecture-prone character in the novel.3 That brought the total amount of the plagiarism in Clotel to eighteen passages, or 4,781 words, derived from eight different sources….
Kevin J. Hayes. “New Light on Peter and King, the Two Slaves Benjamin Franklin Brought to England.” Notes and Queries (March 27, 2013).
“WHEN Benjamin Franklin went to London on behalf of the Pennsylvania assembly in 1757, his son William accompanied him. In addition, they brought along two slaves. Peter served as personal servant to Benjamin Franklin, and William brought King to serve him in the same capacity. From their arrival in England on 17 July 1757 through their departure in August 1762, Peter remained with Benjamin Franklin. King, on the other hand, ran away from the Franklins. A previously neglected newspaper notice advertising for the apprehension and return of a slave named ‘King’ may significantly alter our understanding of Benjamin Franklin’s relationship to slavery.
Before getting to the text of this advertisement, let’s recall the general story of Peter and King in England, a story beset with a major problem from the outset. By 1750, Benjamin and Deborah Franklin owned a slave couple, Peter and Jemima. In addition, the Franklins had another slave in their household during the 1750s, a ‘Negro Child’, who was inoculated for smallpox in 1756.1 Gary B. Nash theorizes that this child could have been Othello, the male slave who helped Deborah around the house after her husband went to England in 1757…”