Emancipation in Virginia's Tobacco Belt, 1850-1870

Emancipation in Virginia's Tobacco Belt, 1850-1870

by Morgan
     
 

An important contribution to the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction era, this book reveals the crucial and remarkably varied roles that African-Americans in Virginia's tobacco belt played in the momentous changes wrought by the transition from slavery to freedom. The state with the largest number of slaves on the eve of the Civil War, Virginia had undergone a…  See more details below

Overview

An important contribution to the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction era, this book reveals the crucial and remarkably varied roles that African-Americans in Virginia's tobacco belt played in the momentous changes wrought by the transition from slavery to freedom. The state with the largest number of slaves on the eve of the Civil War, Virginia had undergone a peculiar set of economic developments that made its black population, both enslaved and free, especially diverse. A significant minority had made contact, typically through slave hiring, with a form of wage labor; still others had engaged in independent production and exchange. Because they shared their experiences with the slave majority who remained on the plantations and farms, hired slaves and independent producers helped create a nascent antebellum market culture, which in turn both undermined and buttressed slavery, laid the foundation for Confederate defeat, and influenced the introduction of free labor in the immediate postemancipation period. Basing her study on extensive research in letters, family papers, and public documents, Lynda J. Morgan traces the complexities of the story from the prewar decade, when Virginia's plantation heartland served as a hired slave-labor reserve for its eastern industry and private households; through secession and the Civil War, when Virginia Confederates failed to adapt African-American labor to their wartime purposes; and, finally, to emancipation and its aftermath, when freed slaves in the tobacco belt infused, with varying degrees of success, their previous knowledge and experience into the state's postwar economy, which was moving toward unbridled capitalist development. Morgan demonstrates that by marketing their labor many former slaves successfully imposed some of their preindustrial notions of property and work upon the new pattern. Thus, freed slaves in the Virginia tobacco belt were often able to adapt to postwar conditions more rapidly than th

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
This is a scholarly examination of slavery in Virginia's tobacco region at the time of the Civil War. Particular emphasis is given to how the ``hired slave,'' through contact with the wider world, became prepared to meet the economic changes caused by the war and by emancipation. Also detailed are the effects of slavery on Virginia's decision to secede, on the war itself, and on the tacit alliance between the Freedman's Bureau and conservative elements to force freed people to reenter agriculture as hired laborers after the war. Although not written for a general audience, this is a useful book for academic libraries.-- Robert A. Curtis, Taylor Memorial P.L., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Booknews
Based on letters, family papers, and public documents, examines the features of slave society before and during the Civil War that shaped the change to wage labor and a market economy during the Reconstruction period. Particularly describes how many slaves were familiar with the concepts of capitalism because of the practice of slave hiring, and because they had engaged in independent production and exchange. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820314150
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
08/01/1992
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.35(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.94(d)

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