Synopses & Reviews
The American Slave Coast
offers a provocative vision of US history from earliest colonial times through emancipation that presents even the most familiar events and figures in a revealing new light.
Authors Ned and Constance Sublette tell the brutal story of how the slavery industry made the reproductive labor of the people it referred to as “breeding women” essential to the young country’s expansion. Captive African Americans in the slave nation were not only laborers, but merchandise and collateral all at once. In a land without silver, gold, or trustworthy paper money, their children and their children’s children into perpetuity were used as human savings accounts that functioned as the basis of money and credit in a market premised on the continual expansion of slavery. Slaveowners collected interest in the form of newborns, who had a cash value at birth and whose mothers had no legal right to say no to forced mating.
This gripping narrative is driven by the power struggle between the elites of Virginia, the slave-raising “mother of slavery,” and South Carolina, the massive importer of Africans—a conflict that was central to American politics from the making of the Constitution through the debacle of the Confederacy.
Virginia slaveowners won a major victory when Thomas Jefferson’s 1808 prohibition of the African slave trade protected the domestic slave markets for slave-breeding. The interstate slave trade exploded in Mississippi during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, drove the US expansion into Texas, and powered attempts to take over Cuba and other parts of Latin America, until a disaffected South Carolina spearheaded the drive to secession and war, forcing the Virginians to secede or lose their slave-breeding industry.
Filled with surprising facts, fascinating incidents, and startling portraits of the people who made, endured, and resisted the slave-breeding industry, The American Slave Coast culminates in the revolutionary Emancipation Proclamation, which at last decommissioned the capitalized womb and armed the formerly enslaved to fight for their freedom.
"In this thoughtful, well-researched history, Sublette (Cuba and Its Music) charts the development of New Orleans, from European colonization through the Haitian revolution (which was crucial to French and American negotiations over Louisiana) to the Louisiana Purchase. Central to his account are the African slaves, who began arriving in New Orleans in 1719, and their contributions to the city's musical life. He considers, for example, how musical influences from different parts of Africa Kongo drumming and Senegambian banjo playing combined to forge a distinctive musical culture. Sublette also lucidly discusses New Orleans' important role in the domestic slave trade, arguing persuasively that the culture of slavery in New Orleans was different from that in Virginia or South Carolina. In New Orleans, there was a large population of free blacks, and slaves there had 'greater relative freedom' than elsewhere. Furthermore, by the early 19th century, Louisiana was home to more African-born slaves than the Upper South. Those factors, which helped perpetuate African religion and dance, combined to offer 'an alternative path of development for African American culture.' As our nation continues to ponder the future of the Big Easy, Sublette offers an informative accounting of that great city's past. 20 b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Named one of the Top 10 Books of 2008 by The Times-Picayune. Winner of the 2009 Humanities Book of the Year award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.Awarded the New Orleans Gulf South Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for 2008.
New Orleans is the most elusive of American cities. The product of the centuries-long struggle among three mighty empires--France, Spain, and England--and among their respective American colonies and enslaved African peoples, it has always seemed like a foreign port to most Americans, baffled as they are by its complex cultural inheritance.
The World That Made New Orleans offers a new perspective on this insufficiently understood city by telling the remarkable story of New Orleanss first century--a tale of imperial war, religious conflict, the search for treasure, the spread of slavery, the Cuban connection, the cruel aristocracy of sugar, and the very different revolutions that created the United States and Haiti. It demonstrates that New Orleans already had its own distinct personality at the time of Louisianas statehood in 1812. By then, important roots of American music were firmly planted in its urban swamp--especially in the dances at Congo Square, where enslaved Africans and African Americans appeared en masse on Sundays to, as an 1819 visitor to the city put it, rock the city.”
This book is a logical continuation of Ned Sublettes previous volume, Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo, which was highly praised for its synthesis of musical, cultural, and political history. Just as that book has become a standard resource on Cuba, so too will The World That Made New Orleans long remain essential for understanding the beautiful and tragic story of this most American of cities.
A wide-ranging, powerful, alternative vision of the history of the United States and how the slave-breeding industry shaped it
The American Slave Coast tells the horrific story of how the slavery business in the United States made the reproductive labor of “breeding women” essential to the expansion of the nation. The book shows how slaves’ children, and their children’s children, were human savings accounts that were the basis of money and credit. This was so deeply embedded in the economy of the slave states that it could only be decommissioned by Emancipation, achieved through the bloodiest war in the history of the United States. The American Slave Coast is an alternative history of the United States that presents the slavery business, as well as familiar historical figures and events, in a revealing new light.
About the Author
Ned Sublette is the author of Cuba and Its Music, The World that Made New Orleans, and The Year Before the Flood. Constance Sublette has published, as Constance Ash, the novels The Horsegirl, The Stalking Horse, and The Stallion Queen, and has edited the anthology Not of Woman Born.