In March 2007 the United Nations desiganted March 25 as a day to honor and remember the victoms of slavery and the internation slave trade. If you would like to observe this day of rememberance, the library is providing this reading list. This is by no means an exhaustive list on this topic. If you would like more recomendations please speak to a librarian in the reference department here at the library.
Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery in America by Anne Farrow
Slavery in the South has been documented in volumes ranging from exhaustive histories to bestselling novels. But the North’s profit from–indeed, dependence on–slavery has mostly been a shameful and well-kept secret . . . until now. In this startling and superbly researched new book, three veteran New England journalists de-mythologize the region of America known for tolerance and liberation, revealing a place where thousands of people were held in bondage and slavery was both an economic dynamo and a necessary way of life. Complicity reveals the cruel truth about the Triangle Trade of molasses, rum, and slaves that lucratively linked the North to the West Indies and Africa; discloses the reality of Northern empires built on profits from rum, cotton, and ivory–and run, in some cases, by abolitionists; and exposes the thousand-acre plantations that existed in towns such as Salem, Connecticut. [goodreads]
The Great Stain: Witnessing American Slavery by Noel Rae
In this “essential” (Kirkus) new work, Noel Rae integrates firsthand accounts into a narrative history that brings the reader face to face with slavery’s everyday reality, expertly weaving together narratives that span hundreds of years. From the travel journals of sixteenth-century Spanish settlers who offered religious instruction and “protection” in exchange for farm labor, to the diaries of poetess Phillis Wheatley and Reverend Cotton Mather, to Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s book about traveling through the “cotton states,” to an 1880 speech given by Frederick Douglass, Rae provides a comprehensive accounting of parties from throughout the antebellum history of the nation. Rae also draws on a wide variety of accounts from less distinguished individuals: a surgeon describes the brutal treatment and squalid conditions onboard a slave ship as he made his daily rounds to collect the dead; an Englishman visiting Haiti observes violent uprisings as, separated from the population on the mainland, slaves were able to overpower their captors. [goodreads]
The Last Slave Ships: New York and the End of the Middle Passage by John Harris.
Long after the transatlantic slave trade was officially outlawed in the early nineteenth century by every major slave trading nation, merchants based in the United States were still sending hundreds of illegal slave ships from American ports to the African coast. The key instigators were slave traders who moved to New York City after the shuttering of the massive illegal slave trade to Brazil in 1850. These traffickers were determined to make Lower Manhattan a key hub in the illegal slave trade to Cuba. In conjunction with allies in Africa and Cuba, they ensnared around two hundred thousand African men, women, and children during the 1850s and 1860s. John Harris explores how the U.S. government went from ignoring, and even abetting, this illegal trade to helping to shut it down completely in 1867. [goodreads]
Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston
In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past–memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War. Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.
The Voyage of the Slave Ship Hare: A Journey into Captivity from Sierra Leone to South Carolina by Sean M. Kelley.
From 1754 to 1755, the slave ship Hare completed a journey from Newport, Rhode Island, to Sierra Leone and back to the United States–a journey that transformed more than seventy Africans into commodities, condemning some to death and the rest to a life of bondage in North America. In this engaging narrative, Sean Kelley painstakingly reconstructs this tumultuous voyage, detailing everything from the identities of the captain and crew to their wild encounters with inclement weather, slave traders, and near-mutiny. But most importantly, Kelley tracks the cohort of slaves aboard the Hare from their purchase in Africa to their sale in South Carolina. In tracing their complete journey, Kelley provides rare insight into the communal lives of slaves and sheds new light on the African diaspora and its influence on the formation of African American culture.
River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom by Walter Johnson.
This work looks at the history of the Mississippi River Valley in the nineteenth century and the economy that developed there, powered by steam engines and slave labor. When Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Territory, he envisioned an “empire for liberty” populated by self-sufficient white farmers. Cleared of Native Americans and the remnants of European empires by Andrew Jackson, the Mississippi Valley was transformed instead into a booming capitalist economy commanded by wealthy planters, powered by steam engines, and dependent on the coerced labor of slaves. This book places the Cotton Kingdom at the center of worldwide webs of exchange and exploitation that extended across oceans and drove an insatiable hunger for new lands. This bold reaccounting dramatically alters our understanding of American slavery and its role in U.S. expansionism, global capitalism, and the upcoming Civil War. Here the author traces the connections between the planters’ pro-slavery ideology, Atlantic commodity markets, and Southern schemes for global ascendency. Using slave narratives, popular literature, legal records, and personal correspondence, he recreates the harrowing details of daily life under cotton’s dark dominion. We meet the confidence men and gamblers who made the Valley shimmer with promise, the slave dealers, steamboat captains, and merchants who supplied the markets, the planters who wrung their civilization out of the minds and bodies of their human property, and the true believers who threatened the Union by trying to expand the Cotton Kingdom on a global scale. But at the center of the story the author tells are the enslaved people who pulled down the forests, planted the fields, picked the cotton, who labored, suffered, and resisted on the dark underside of the American dream.
The Price for their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved from Womb to Grave in the Building of a Nation by Daina Ramey Berry.
Groundbreaking look at slaves as commodities through every phase of life, from birth to death and beyond, in early America The Price for Their Pound of Flesh is the first book to explore the economic value of enslaved people through every phase of their lives–including from before birth to after death–in the American domestic slave trades. Covering the full “life cycle” (including preconception, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, the senior years, and death), historian Daina Berry shows the lengths to which slaveholders would go to maximize profits. She draws from over ten years of research to explore how enslaved people responded to being appraised, bartered, and sold. By illuminating their lives, Berry ensures that the individuals she studies are regarded as people, not merely commodities. Analyzing the depth of this monetization of human property will change the way we think about slavery, reparations, capitalism, and nineteenth-century medical education
The Last Slave Ship: The True Story of How Clotilda was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning by Ben Raines.
Fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed, the Clotilda became the last ship in history to bring enslaved Africans to the United States. The ship was scuttled and burned on arrival to hide evidence of the crime, allowing the wealthy perpetrators to escape prosecution. Despite numerous efforts to find the sunken wreck, Clotilda remained hidden for the next 160 years. But in 2019, journalist Ben Raines made international news when he successfully concluded his obsessive quest through the swamps of Alabama to uncover one of our nation’s most important historical artifacts.Traveling from Alabama to the ancient African kingdom of Dahomey in modern-day Benin, Raines recounts the ship’s perilous journey, the story of its rediscovery, and its complex legacy. Against all odds, Africatown, the Alabama community founded by the captives of the Clotilda, prospered in the Jim Crow South. Zora Neale Hurston visited in 1927 to interview Cudjo Lewis, telling the story of his enslavement in the New York Times bestseller Barracoon. And yet the haunting memory of bondage has been passed on through generations. Clotilda is a ghost haunting three communities—the descendants of those transported into slavery, the descendants of their fellow Africans who sold them, and the descendants of their American enslavers. This connection binds these groups together to this day. At the turn of the century, descendants of the captain who financed the Clotilda’s journey lived nearby—where, as significant players in the local real estate market, they disenfranchised and impoverished residents of Africatown. [goodreads]
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman, and Jake Silverstein
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story offers a revealing vision of the American past and present. In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the source of so much that still defines the United States. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story builds on The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project,” which reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This book substantially expands on the original “1619 Project, “weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself. This legacy can be seen in the way we tell stories, the way we teach our children, and the way we remember. Together, the elements of the book reveal a new origin story for the United States, one that helps explain not only the persistence of anti-Black racism and inequality in American life today, but also the roots of what makes the country unique. [goodreads]
Running from Bondage: Enslaved Women and their Remarkable Fight for Freedom in Revolutionary America by Karen Cook Bell.
Running from Bondage tells the compelling stories of enslaved women, who comprised one-third of all runaways, and the ways in which they fled or attempted to flee bondage during and after the Revolutionary War. Karen Cook Bell’s enlightening and original contribution to the study of slave resistance in eighteenth-century America explores the individual and collective lives of these women and girls of diverse circumstances, while also providing details about what led them to escape. She demonstrates that there were in fact two wars being waged during the Revolutionary Era: a political revolution for independence from Great Britain and a social revolution for emancipation and equality in which Black women played an active role. Running from Bondage broadens and complicates how we study and teach this momentous event, one that emphasizes the chances taken by these “Black founding mothers” and the important contributions they made to the cause of liberty
Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora by Stephanie E. Smallwood
This bold, innovative book promises to radically alter our understanding of the Atlantic slave trade, and the depths of its horrors. Stephanie E. Smallwood offers a penetrating look at the process of enslavement from its African origins through the Middle Passage and into the American slave market. Smallwood’s story is animated by deep research and gives us a startlingly graphic experience of the slave trade from the vantage point of the slaves themselves. Ultimately, Saltwater Slavery details how African people were transformed into Atlantic commodities in the process. She begins her narrative on the shores of 17th Century Africa, tracing how the trade in human bodies came to define the life of the Gold Coast. Smallwood takes us into the ports and stone fortresses where African captives were held and prepared, and then through the Middle Passage itself. [goodreads]