Ploughshares into Swords: Race, Rebellion, and Identity in Gabriel's Virginia, 1730-1810 / Edition 1

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Overview

During the summer of 1800, slaves in and around Richmond conspired to overthrow their masters and abolish slavery. This book uses Gabriel's Conspiracy and the evidence produced during the repression of the revolt to expose the processes through which Virginians of African descent built an oppositional culture. James Sidbury portrays the rich cultures of eighteenth-century Black Virginians and the multiple, and sometimes conflicting, senses of identity that emerged among enslaved and free people living in and around the rapidly growing state capital. The book also examines the conspirators' vision of themselves as God's chosen people and the complicated African and European roots of their culture. In so doing, it offers an alternative interpretation of the meaning of the Virginia that was home to so many of the Founding Fathers of the United States. This narrative focuses on the history and perspectives of black and enslaved people in order to develop Gabriel's Virginia as a counterpoint to more common discussions of Jeffersonian Virginia.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...[a] well-researched and clearly written study....Sidbury draws heavily from primary sources and his study is thoroughly documented....Highly recommended." Choice

"....offers a series of analyses—detailed, intelligent, sophisticated, and cogent—of a number of important questions that the Gabriel incident both highlights and illuminates....excellent work, with its abundant citations...." The North Carolina Historical Review

"James Sidbury's Ploughshares into Swords offers some interesting new perspectives on a well-known event - Gabriel's Rebellion - and some equally useful insights into Richmond's black community in the post-revolutionary era. He offers new and daring interpretations of information in the records, especially his account of how black Virginians turned the culture of the Virginia elite upside down by approaching some of its symbols for revolutionay purposes." Gregg D. Kimball, The Virginia Magazine of History & Biography

"...his detailed and suggestive monograph will be useful to subsequent authors who share his commitment 'to contextualize'(p. 3)." Peter H. Wood, William & Mary Quarterly

"In bringing the study of African American slavery to the community level, Sidbury has also presented a model that will surely inspire future scholarship." Diane Barnes, Southern Historian

"...why do we have another book on [this] subject? The answer is because James Sidbury does something different." Donald R. Wright, American Historical Review

"James Sidbury's Ploughshares into Swords is one of the best local studies of postrevolutionary Virginia, and particularly Richmond, around." The Journal of American History, Bloomington, IL

"...Sidbury pans nuggets of gold from surviving anecdotal evidence about Gabriel's contemporaries...this book succeeds marvelously...well organized, well-written, and carefully reasoned, Ploughshares into Swords manages to stand above a crowded field to make original observations about Gabriel and his world." Joseph P. Reidy, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Ploughshares into Swords, in addition to providing provocative reading, fills a significant gap in the historiography of the colonial and subsequent African American experience. It should prove to be a catalyst for further research on this important topic." Journal of American Ethnic History

"...a valuable new study of black identity in the Atlantic world." The Journal of Southern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521598606
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 The emergence of racial consciousness in eighteenth-century Virginia 14
2 Forging an oppositional culture: Gabriel's Conspiracy and the process of cultural appropriation 55
3 Individualism, community, and identity in Gabriel's Conspiracy 95
4 Making sense of Gabriel's Conspiracy: Immediate responses to the conspiracy 118
5 The growth of early Richmond 151
6 Labor, race, and identity in early Richmond 184
7 Race and constructions of gender in early Richmond 220
8 Gabriel's Conspiracy in memory and fiction 256
Appendix Richmond households in 1784 and 1810 277
Index 281
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