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1 Burnside African American Studies- Slavery and Reconstruction

Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market


Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Soul by Soul tells the story of slavery in antebellum America by moving away from the cotton plantations and into the slave market itself, the heart of the domestic slave trade. Taking us inside the New Orleans slave market, the largest in the nation, where 100,000 men, women, and children were packaged, priced, and sold, Walter Johnson transforms the statistics of this chilling trade into the human drama of traders, buyers, and slaves, negotiating sales that would alter the life of each. What emerges is not only the brutal economics of trading but the vast and surprising interdependencies among the actors involved. Using recently discovered court records, slaveholders' letters, nineteenth-century narratives of former slaves, and the financial documentation of the trade itself, Johnson reveals the tenuous shifts of power that occurred in the market's slave coffles and showrooms. Traders packaged their slaves by "feeding them up," dressing them well, and oiling their bodies, but they ultimately relied on the slaves to play their part as valuable commodities. Slave buyers stripped the slaves and questioned their pasts, seeking more honest answers than they could get from the traders. In turn, these examinations provided information that the slaves could utilize, sometimes even shaping a sale to their own advantage. Johnson depicts the subtle interrelation of capitalism, paternalism, class consciousness, racism, and resistance in the slave market, to help us understand the centrality of the "peculiar institution" in the lives of slaves and slaveholders alike. His pioneering history is in no small measure the story of antebellum slavery.


Co-Winner, 2001 Frances B. Simkins Award, Southern Historical Association


Co-Winner, 2000 Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians

About the Author

Walter Johnson is Associate Professor of History and American Studies at New York University.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: A Person with a Price
  • 1. The Chattel Principle
  • 2. Between the Prices
  • 3. Making a World Out of Slaves
  • 4. Turning People into Products
  • 5. Reading Bodies and Marking Race
  • 6. Acts of Sale
  • 7. Life in the Shadow of the Slave Market
  • Epilogue: Southern History and the Slave Trade
  • Abbreviations
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
  • Illustrations follow page 116

Product Details

Johnson, Walter
Harvard University Press
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Americas (North Central South West Indies)
United States - State & Local
United States - Antebellum Era
Race relations
United States - State & Local - General
New Orleans (La.) Race relations.
Slaves - Louisiana - New Orleans -
HISTORY / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies/African-American Studies
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
March 2001
Grade Level:
20 halftones
9 x 6 in 13 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » African American Studies » General
History and Social Science » African American Studies » Slavery and Reconstruction
History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century

Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market Used Trade Paper
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$13.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674005396 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Co-Winner, 2001 Frances B. Simkins Award, Southern Historical Association
"Synopsis" by , Co-Winner, 2000 Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians
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