Foul Means: The Formation of a Slave Society in Virginia, 1660-1740 / Edition 1

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Overview

Challenging the generally accepted belief that the introduction of racial slavery to America was an unplanned consequence of a scarce labor market, Anthony Parent, Jr., contends that during a brief period spanning the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries a small but powerful planter class, acting to further its emerging economic interests, intentionally brought racial slavery to Virginia.

Parent bases his argument on three historical developments: the expropriation of Powhatan lands, the switch from indentured to slave labor, and the burgeoning tobacco trade. He argues that these were the result of calculated moves on the part of an emerging great planter class seeking to consolidate power through large landholdings and the labor to make them productive. To preserve their economic and social gains, this planter class inscribed racial slavery into law. The ensuing racial and class tensions led elite planters to mythologize their position as gentlemen of pastoral virtue immune to competition and corruption. To further this benevolent image, they implemented a plan to Christianize slaves and thereby render them submissive. According to Parent, by the 1720s the Virginia gentry projected a distinctive cultural ethos that buffered them from their uncertain hold on authority, threatened both by rising imperial control and by black resistance, which exploded in the Chesapeake Rebellion of 1730.

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Editorial Reviews

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Amazingly, generations of Virginia historians portrayed the colony's descent into race slavery as the emergence of a Golden Age. But Parent's compelling book casts new light on this grim and crucial evolution over three generations, demonstrating it was hardly a benign shift, or even an 'unthinking decision.' Instead, it was a terrible transformation that has thrown its long shadow across the rest of American history. It will take time for the full message to sink in.(Peter H. Wood, Duke University)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Anthony S. Parent, Jr., is associate professor of history at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Illustrations
Abbreviations
Introduction 1
Pt. I Origins: Land, Labor, and Trade
1 The Landgrab 9
2 The Labor Switch 55
3 Cyclical Crises, 1680-1723 80
Pt. II Conflicts: Race and Class
4 The Laws of Slavery 105
5 Revolt and Response, 1676-1740 135
6 Class Conflicts, 1724-1740 173
Pt. III Reactions: Ideology and Religion
7 The Emergence of Patriarchism, 1700-1740 197
8 Baptism and Bondage, 1700-1740 236
Coda: Foul Means Must Do, What Fair Will Not 265
App. 1 Black Headright Patents 269
App. 2 St. Peter's Parish 276
Index 285
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