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Carry Me Back: The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life
     

Carry Me Back: The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life

by Steven Deyle
 

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Originating with the birth of the nation itself, in many respects, the story of the domestic slave trade is also the story of the early United States. While an external traffic in slaves had always been present, following the American Revolution this was replaced by a far more vibrant internal trade. Most importantly, an interregional commerce in slaves developed

Overview

Originating with the birth of the nation itself, in many respects, the story of the domestic slave trade is also the story of the early United States. While an external traffic in slaves had always been present, following the American Revolution this was replaced by a far more vibrant internal trade. Most importantly, an interregional commerce in slaves developed that turned human property into one of the most valuable forms of investment in the country, second only to land. In fact, this form of property became so valuable that when threatened with its ultimate extinction in 1860, southern slave owners believed they had little alternative but to leave the Union. Therefore, while the interregional trade produced great wealth for many people, and the nation, it also helped to tear the country apart.
The domestic slave trade likewise played a fundamental role in antebellum American society. Led by professional traders, who greatly resembled northern entrepreneurs, this traffic was a central component in the market revolution of the early nineteenth century. In addition, the development of an extensive local trade meant that the domestic trade, in all its configurations, was a prominent feature in southern life. Yet, this indispensable part of the slave system also raised many troubling questions. For those outside the South, it affected their impression of both the region and the new nation. For slaveholders, it proved to be the most difficult part of their institution to defend. And for those who found themselves commodities in this trade, it was something that needed to be resisted at all costs.
Carry Me Back restores the domestic slave trade to the prominent place that it deserves in early American history, exposing the many complexities of southern slavery and antebellum American life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Historian Deyle reveals the malignant heart of that most "peculiar institution," American slavery. Deyle's focus is the domestic buying and selling of human beings after the abolition of the international slave trade in 1808; the economics and unique practices of that macabre local marketplace; and the varied individuals who engaged in and profited from the trade. As Deyle, assistant professor of history at the University of California, Davis, points out, the vast majority of Southerners who bought and sold slaves were not professional dealers, but rather owners who traded slaves only when necessary: when they found themselves with either a short supply or a surplus of labor power. Deyle spells out how the cold, sterile economics of slavery led to the arbitrary separation of children from parents, wives from husbands. Deyle also makes clear the enormous profit to be had, especially in the market for healthy adolescent boys with years of hard labor ahead of them. Babies born to slave parents, fed a meager diet for 12 or 13 years, multiplied a minimal investment by hundreds. Most ironically, Deyle notes, the vast majority of slave traders were "good" people, devout Christians, respected citizens. In his first book, Deyle ably situates the important role of the domestic slave trade within the economy of the new and rapidly growing United States. B&w illus. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Much has been written on the antebellum period, but the troubling topic of the domestic (as compared with the international) slave trade, and particularly its relationship to the coming of the Civil War, has not been thoroughly explored. In his first book, Deyle (history, Univ. of California, Davis) takes up the topic. His thoughtful analysis links the domestic slave trade with the drawing together of the upper and lower regions of the South, thus placing the trade within the wider market revolution. He also examines the differing manner in which the buying and selling of human beings was viewed by those in the South and in the North and by the African Americans who suffered most through it. Linking the domestic slave trade with the eventual demise of slavery, he also examines how historic memory has treated the topic. Based on a vast array of primary sources, this valuable study is essential for academic collections of all sizes, even those who already own recent works that examine other aspects of the trade, such as Robert H. Gudmestad's A Troublesome Commerce: The Transformation of the Interstate Slave Trade.-Theresa McDevitt, Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Carry Me Back is a book we have long needed—a synthetic, region-wide treatment of the domestic slave trade. Deyle's deep research and lucid writing convincingly show that the sale and transport of human property from the upper to lower South was a national tragedy of epic proportions, a grand economic enterprise that both forged the Cotton Kingdom and was the root of its undoing. Behold! The story of how the largest source of wealth in antebellum America belongs at the center of our national narrative, and how it haunts us still."—David W. Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory and Director, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, Yale University

"Prodigiously researched and convincingly argued, Steven Deyle's Carry Me Back places the slave market at the center of the nineteenth-century United States. Carry Me Back tells the story of the disastrous effects of that market on black lives, of its crucial place in the Southern market revolution being pursued by their white masters, and of the role of images of the trade in the argument of nineteenth-century opponents of slavery. The information necessary to dismantle U.S. slavery, it turns out, was produced along the bloody leading edge of its commercial economy."—Walter Johnson, author of Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market

"Carry Me Back takes us far beyond what we already know about the importance of the domestic slave trade. Steven Deyle shows us just how tightly entwined the domestic slave trade actually became with the overall development of the nation itself, North no less than South, and how it dictated the direction of our history in so many significant ways. Ambitiously conceived and skillfully executed, this is a study that all students of the antebellum era surely must read."—James Brewer Stewart, author of Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198036395
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
04/14/2005
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Steven Deyle is Associate Professor of History at the University of Houston.

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