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Where the Negroes Are Masters: An African Port in the Era of the Slave Tradeby Randy J. Sparks
Synopses & Reviews
Annamaboe was the largest slave trading port on the eighteenth-century Gold Coast, and it was home to successful, wily African merchants whose unusual partnerships with their European counterparts made the town and its people an integral part of the Atlantic's webs of exchange. Where the Negroes Are Masters brings to life the outpost's feverish commercial bustle and continual brutality, recovering the experiences of the entrepreneurial black and white men who thrived on the lucrative traffic in human beings.
Located in present-day Ghana, the port of Annamaboe brought the town's Fante merchants into daily contact with diverse peoples: Englishmen of the Royal African Company, Rhode Island Rum Men, European slave traders, and captured Africans from neighboring nations. Operating on their own turf, Annamaboe's African leaders could bend negotiations with Europeans to their own advantage, as they funneled imported goods from across the Atlantic deep into the African interior and shipped vast cargoes of enslaved Africans to labor in the Americas.
Far from mere pawns in the hands of the colonial powers, African men and women were major players in the complex networks of the slave trade. Randy Sparks captures their collective experience in vivid detail, uncovering how the slave trade arose, how it functioned from day to day, and how it transformed life in Annamaboe and made the port itself a hub of Atlantic commerce. From the personal, commercial, and cultural encounters that unfolded along Annamaboe's shore emerges a dynamic new vision of the early modern Atlantic world.
"This persuasive, well-researched study of the 18th-century Atlantic slave trade takes the unique approach of examining 'the African merchant elites who facilitated that trade,' who, according to Tulane University history professor Sparks, 'were as essential to the Atlantic economy as the merchants of Liverpool, Nantes, or Middleburg.' That premise may be somewhat surprising, if not outright provocative, but he delivers proof. Sparks takes the West African coastal town of Annamaboe (now a small city in Ghana) as his setting and smoothly progresses through his narrative — which is difficult given the subject's complexity — with a scrupulous eye for detail and intersecting storylines. A 'relatively sleepy fishing village' at the beginning of the early 1700s, Annamaboe rapidly transformed into one of the most active Atlantic trade ports, exporting hundreds of thousands of slaves before its sudden demise following the abolition of the slave trade by Great Britain in 1807 and the United States in 1808. Nonetheless, at the height of its power, the local tribes of Annamaboe traded gold and slaves with some of the greatest powers in Europe, including France and Great Britain, as well as Rhode Island's Rum Men. And what Sparks finds is that the merchants in Annamaboe often set the rules of that trade. Maps & illus." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Annamaboe--largest slave trading port on the Gold Coast--was home to wily African merchants whose partnerships with Europeans made the town an integral part of Atlantic webs of exchange. Randy Sparks recreates the outpost's feverish bustle and brutality, tracing the entrepreneurs, black and white, who thrived on a lucrative traffic in human beings.
About the Author
Randy J. Sparks is Professor of History at Tulane University.
What Our Readers Are Saying
History and Social Science » African American Studies » Slavery and Reconstruction