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Black Southerners, 1619-1869

Black Southerners, 1619-1869

John B. Boles
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Black Southerners, 1619-1869
    Book Description:

    This interpretation of the black experience in the South revealing emphasizes the evolution of slavery over time and the emergence of a rich, hybrid African American culture. From the incisive discussion on the origins of slavery in the Chesapeake colonies, John Boles embarks on an interpretation of a vast body of demographic, anthropological, and comparative scholarship to explore the character of black bondage in the American South. On such diverse issues as black population growth, the strength of the slave family, the efficiency and profitability of slavery, the diet and health care of bondsmen, the maturation of slave culture, the varieties of slave resistance, and the participation of blacks in the Civil War,Black Southernersprovides a balanced and judicious treatment.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5786-3
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Editor’s Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Charles P. Roland
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)

    The fateful relationship between Africa and the American South—indeed, the entire Western Hemisphere—has a history that antedates the initial voyages of Christopher Columbus. Southern and Western Europeans before the fourteenth century were aware of a mysterious continent to their south, and though they considered it backward, heathenish, and darkly exotic, rumors of great riches suggested European opportunities. For countless centuries internal trade routes had facilitated the commerce of Africa, and the long caravans snaking across the vast Sahara from the western Gold Coast to the Arab empires at the eastern end of the Mediterranean had exchanged precious minerals,...

  6. 1. A Tentative Beginning
    (pp. 3-24)

    Part of the mythology every schoolchild in the United States learns, along with the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving and the poignant story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith, is that the colony of Virginia achieved quick prosperity upon the basis of slaves and tobacco. Thus, “the South”—complete with images of grand plantation mansions and swarms of servile blacks—is assumed to have existed almost from initial settlement, with little change until the cataclysm of the Civil War in 1861. Yet the path to large-scale slavery in Virginia and Maryland, the other Chesapeake colony, was slow, uncertain, and in no way...

  7. 2. The Crucial Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 25-51)

    Europeans harbored a series of conflicting ideas about the New World lying across the seas. America held forth the promise of both Utopia and savagery; America was the hope of mankind and a monument to man’s greed and folly, a mission field for Christian evangels and a burying ground for most of the early settlers. Death, failure, profound frustration, and the ache of loneliness were the constant companions of the first pioneers, and decades were to pass before hope, then success, and finally pride in accomplishment began to find a way into the emotions of seventeenth-century Americans. After midcentury, with...

  8. 3. The Maturation of the Plantation System, 1776-1860
    (pp. 52-84)

    Slavery in the North American mainland colonies was approximately a century old when the American Revolution sundered the British colonies from the crown. The black response to the “epochal rupture” was largely conditioned by the previous history of black-white relations and the aspirations nurtured by the Afro-American community. Although blacks participated in the Revolution, many in support of the American cause, most who found themselves living in the new United States had little freedom in which to rejoice. Several thousand slaves in the South were emancipated at the high point of egalitarian fervor, and those in the northern states witnessed...

  9. 4. Life and Death in the Old South
    (pp. 85-105)

    Legend and Hollywood have successfully fixed in the popular mind a luxuriant southern landscape of moss-festooned live oaks and blooming magnolias interrupted now and again by white-columned mansions. Cotton fields laden with ripe bolls stretch to the horizon, and off behind the big house, in neat rows, are attractive slave cabins. In truth, most southern regions with rich soil were adorned by a few such plantations, just enough to legitimate in the eyes of whites the correctness of their institutions, but this scene never was typical. Such mansions were goals for struggling small planters and generated respect and deference for...

  10. 5. Black Diversity in a Slave Society
    (pp. 106-139)

    The South as a region and its politics, economy, and culture have often been misunderstood and falsely depicted as an undifferentiated whole, uniform from the Mason-Dixon line to the Rio Grande. Geographically the states of the South were widely diverse, and their populations were surprisingly varied. No one political party dominated the Old South; even in the years after 1830 the Whigs and Democrats fought each other to a practical standstill. A number of regional folk cultures developed and persisted, from Eastern Shore Quakers in Maryland to German-speaking settlements in Texas, with Louisiana Cajuns, Appalachian hill folk, and thousands of...

  11. 6. Community, Culture, and Rebellion
    (pp. 140-181)

    Black cultural life before about 1720 in what is now the South was stunted because of the small numbers of slaves and their sparse distribution across an almost impenetrably wooded terrain. When scattered slaveholders owned only two or three slaves apiece, with few holding more than ten, blacks had little chance to create a community. It was difficult for them to find suitable marriage partners because of the imbalance in the sex ratio and the difficulty of communication and transportation on the southern colonial frontier. Family life was constricted, and the opportunities for talking, singing, sharing with other blacks were...

  12. 7. An Unfinished Ending, 1861-1869
    (pp. 182-213)

    In what proved to be a momentous miscalculation, the southern states seceded from the Union in two interconnected stages during the winter and spring of 1860-61. Brimming with bravado and confidence, some southerners spoke of easy victory and a great Confederate future. Others, often large planters, had entered the war with less gusto and silently feared for the continuation of their slave-based prosperity. Yet no one knew the shape the conflict would eventually assume, no one could foresee the changes wartime necessity would demand. Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, the institution of slavery began to crumble. Neither black nor white...

  13. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 214-239)
  14. Index
    (pp. 240-246)