Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Indian Slave Trade

The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670–1717

ALAN GALLAY
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 464
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1npmvw
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Indian Slave Trade
    Book Description:

    This absorbing book is the first ever to focus on the traffic in Indian slaves during the early years of the American South. The Indian slave trade was of central importance from the Carolina coast to the Mississippi Valley for nearly fifty years, linking southern lives and creating a whirlwind of violence and profit-making, argues Alan Gallay. He documents in vivid detail how the trade operated, the processes by which Europeans and Native Americans became participants, and the profound consequences for the South and its peoples.The author places Native Americans at the center of the story of European colonization and the evolution of plantation slavery in America. He explores the impact of such contemporary forces as the African slave trade, the unification of England and Scotland, and the competition among European empires as well as political and religious divisions in England and in South Carolina. Gallay also analyzes how Native American societies approached warfare, diplomacy, and decisions about allying and trading with Europeans. His wide-ranging research not only illuminates a crucial crossroad of European and Native American history but also establishes a new context for understanding racism, colonialism, and the meaning of ethnicity in early America.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13321-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. NOTE ON THE TEXT AND TERMINOLOGY
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-20)

    Studies of the colonial South have made huge strides from the narrow histories of ruling elites that characterized the field before the mid-1970s. Peter H. Wood’s landmark work,Black Majority: Negroes in South Carolina from 1670 Through the Stono Rebellion(1974), among its many accomplishments, moved African-American life to center stage.¹ With great skill, Wood uncovered a wealth of information about the slaves’ significant contributions to early southern history, deftly displaying how Africans shaped not only their own lives but their masters’, too. Never again could the South’s history be written as a mere extension of elite whites’ vision and...

  7. PART ONE. THE SOUTH TO 1701

    • 1 THE MISSISSIPPIAN ERA
      (pp. 23-39)

      The South existed as a distinctive region from about the year A.D. 1000, when maize (zea mays) production increased substantially among the area’s inhabitants. Easily storable and highly nutritional, maize bore little resemblance to today’s corn, which has a much smaller percentage of the original caloric, mineral, and vitamin values.¹ Roasted, pounded into hominy, fried, boiled, and baked, corn was processed by southern Indians into dozens of dishes from which many people received more than half of their calories.² Archaeologists are unsure whether maturing political organization led to increased production or, more likely, increased production led to new and more...

    • 2 CAROLINA, THE WESTO, AND THE TRADE IN INDIAN SLAVES, 1670–1685
      (pp. 40-69)

      When the English planted a settlement at Carolina in 1670, no one could envision the extent of its impact on the South.¹ Entering a region already in the throes of vast cultural, social, and political change, the English would provide the dominant societal framework that replaced the chiefdoms that had prevailed for so long. The changeover was not immediate, however. The Spanish mission system, the new Native American confederacies, and the surviving chiefdoms long operated in the region, but the English plantation model steadily expanded until it reigned over the South.

      The process was neither fast nor inevitable, though the...

    • 3 CROSSROAD OF CULTURES: SCOTS, YAMASEE, AND THE CAROLINA COLONY, 1684–1701
      (pp. 70-98)

      The establishment of Carolina and the emigration of Westo, and then the Savannah, had made the South Atlantic Coastal and Savannah River subregions hives of activity. Through Charles Town entered European trade goods and more immigrants; leaving the South were animal pelts, livestock, wood products, and Indian slaves. Watching with great interest and trepidation were Spanish and Indians. English slaving threatened everyone, but English goods enticed interest from many. Much more than the Spanish, the English traded their wares with Indians. Metal tools, guns, alcohol, textiles, and fripperies led numerous Indians to seek out the English, just as the English...

  8. PART TWO. ADJUSTMENTS, 1698–1708

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 99-100)

      Europeans and Indians had no choice but to interact in the American South. Although the Appalachian Mountains gave the Cherokee a modicum of isolation and the numerous bayous of the lower Mississippi Valley offered local peoples refuge from invasion, the region’s extensive rivers and numerous trading paths facilitated mobility, trade, migration, and warfare. The establishment of Spanish, English and French colonies adversely enmeshed native peoples in European rivalries. Because the Europeans enjoyed limited military power away from their nascent colonies and their colonies were vulnerable to raids, they depended on indigenous peoples for both offensive and defensive operations. Conversely, the...

    • 4 ARKANSAS, TUNICA, TAENSA, AND FRENCH MISSIONARIES: COMMUNICATION ACROSS THE CULTURAL DIVIDE, 1698–1700
      (pp. 101-126)

      All French activity centered on the Mississippi. Through the “father of waters,” which connected Louisiana to Canada and Europe, the French explored and understood the region. Early French missionaries and soldiers did not stray far from the river. When they did edge away, it was always along confluent rivers. This meant that their initial contact with Indian peoples tended to be with the smaller groups who lived near the mouth of the Mississippi and the medium to larger groups, such as the Natchez to the Arkansas upriver, rather than the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek, who lived inland. Although the Mississippi...

    • 5 DIPLOMACY AND WAR, 1699–1706
      (pp. 127-154)

      The quest for Indian slaves shaped and distinguished the first decade of the eighteenth-century South. Slavers stepped up their attacks by organizing both large armies and small raiding parties that scoured the countryside in search of prey. Thomas Nairne, who participated in at least one of these raids, left a rare description of how such a raid was conducted in a legend for a map of Florida that he produced. The nineteen-part legend depicts the step-by-step process he and thirty-three Yamasee followed in Florida. Apparently, they took the inland passage from South Carolina to northern Florida, entering Saint Johns River,...

    • 6 BRITISH IMPERIALISM AND INDIAN WARFARE IN THE SOUTH: JOHN STEWART AND THOMAS NAIRNE
      (pp. 155-196)

      Two Scots, John Stewart and Thomas Nairne, played seminal roles in South Carolina’s relationship with southern Indians. Nairne, the more famous of the two, helped frame and implement the colony’s policies toward Native Americans—he fills a prominent place in the story that unfolds in subsequent chapters. Stewart, by contrast, remains an obscure figure, yet he initiated South Carolina’s contact with many southern Indians and paved the way for British expansion and influence in the region.

      Stewart was older than Nairne. The prime years of his interaction with southern Indians began in 1690, whereas Nairne became active about fifteen years...

  9. PART THREE. INTENTIONS, 1707–1711

    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 197-198)

      The years 1707–1711 were a transitional period. After the swirl of invasions that began with the English failure to take Saint Augustine in 1702 and ended with the Franco-Spanish fiasco against Charles Town in 1706, the Europeans scurried to secure alliances with native peoples. Louisiana and Florida were in no position to undertake another invasion of South Carolina and had to shore up their defenses. South Carolina’s phenomenal success in destroying Spanish missions raised English prestige and facilitated the recruitment of large Indian armies for campaigns against their enemies. The Carolinians had learned that they could make greater profits...

    • 7 INDIANS, TRADERS, AND THE REFORM OF THE INDIAN TRADE, 1707–1708
      (pp. 199-222)

      To reform Indian affairs, it was necessary to collect information about the South’s native peoples. Thomas Nairne did his part by recording his observations and drawing maps of southern Indians; John Stewart contributed his expertise through letters to the queen and other leading personages of the empire; colony officials collected and collated census data—not just of Indians but of Europeans and Africans, too—through which they created a profile of the colony and the region’s Indian population.

      An examination of the demographic data South Carolina officials generated in 1708 and 1715 allows us to place in greater context the...

    • 8 DEFINING THE EMPIRE: CAROLINA AND THE CONVERSION OF INDIANS
      (pp. 223-240)

      The religious divisions that plagued Carolina in the late seventeenth century continued into the early eighteenth century. These divisions paralleled the Tory-Whig partisan politics of the mother country. In both the British Isles and Carolina, definitions of the nation, the political system, and the relationship between church and state were hotly contested. Although people hoped to avoid the violent political upheavals of the past, religious prejudices and civil disorders were rife. In England, individuals channeled their political energies into factions that evolved into parties, defining their positions through broadsides, pamphlets, books, and newspapers.

      When historians examine the impact of these...

    • 9 CAROLINA’S INDIAN TRADERS
      (pp. 241-256)

      The European powers depended on their Native American neighbors. Indian military power in the South was too strong for Europeans to resist without other Indian allies to protect their settlements. As the wealth of Carolina grew through the spread of plantation agriculture, defense of the sprawling colony became more and more difficult. The government sought ways to stabilize Indian affairs by diffusing the powder keg of native discontent. The sources of this discontent and Carolina’s response to the problem are the subject of this chapter.

      The assembly did not doubt the importance of Indians to the colony. In 1709, after...

  10. PART FOUR. REPERCUSSIONS, 1712–1717

    • [PART FOUR Introduction]
      (pp. 257-258)

      The Indian slave trade placed South Carolina at the center of southern Indian affairs. The colony’s influence extended from one end of the region to the other. Neither French nor Spanish could counter the British position. The Tuscarora War gave South Carolina a venue to display its power, as it rallied diverse groups of Indians to save North Carolina from its enemies. Simultaneously, the colony undertook military operations against the Choctaw, and to many, the English juggernaut might have appeared unstoppable.

      Success led to growing arrogance. Traders believed themselves indispensable to the colony and to the Indians. They thumbed their...

    • 10 THE TUSCARORA WAR
      (pp. 259-287)

      In at least one sense, the Tuscarora War was South Carolina’s finest moment, for the colony overcame numerous obstacles to help its neighbor to the north. Although South Carolina was beset by harrowing epidemics that included smallpox, malaria, yellow fever, and various influenzas,¹ the colony did not blink from its duty to a sister colony. Virginia, in sharp contrast, waffled over providing aid, promised to send two hundred troops, and then argued with North Carolina over provisioning before withdrawing its offer. Virginia did play an active role in attempting to keep the Upper Tuscarora neutral, but the Old Dominion preferred...

    • 11 CONTOURS OF THE INDIAN SLAVE TRADE
      (pp. 288-314)

      Whatever pretensions the South Carolinians had for reforming relations with their Indian allies, they had few qualms about destroying and enslaving those whom they classified as enemies: natives aligned with the French. Although these natives posed little or no direct threat to the colony, South Carolina’s government, factions, and Indian allies all agreed on the expediency and profitability of attacking and capturing French-allied Indians. The slave trade thus continued to play a preeminent role in shaping South Carolina diplomacy: it linked the colony and its allies while distracting both from the problems between them.

      During the Tuscarora War, South Carolina...

    • 12 THE YAMASEE WAR
      (pp. 315-344)

      While the second expedition was on its way to North Carolina, the factionalism at home continued unabated. Indians, too, took sides in the factionalism. Thomas Nairne represented the interests of King Lewis of the Yamasee town of Pocataligo at a commission meeting in March 1713, asking the board whether the Chehaw, “who were formerly belonging to the Yamassees and now settled” with the “Creek, might return.”¹ That same day King Lewis and other Pocataligo Yamasee made a variety of complaints against members of the John Wright faction. They complained about Wright intimidating them to build him a house and sell...

  11. AFTERWORD
    (pp. 345-358)

    The threat Native Americans posed to the burgeoning plantation system did not disappear after the Yamasee War. The specter of Native Americans uniting with African Americans against Europeans haunted South Carolina and Louisiana colonials. The elite of both colonies worked strenuously to keep Indians and Africans apart and mutually hostile, and to do so, they sought to impose their racial ideology on them. In particular, the colonists wanted Indians to adjudge African slaves as inherently belonging to an inferior and debased caste, while they taught Africans that Indians were savages who would scalp, torture, and cannibalize them. In spite of...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 359-428)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 429-444)