Them Dark Days: Slavery in the American Rice Swamps / Edition 1

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Them Dark Days is a study of the callous, capitalistic nature of the vast rice plantations along the southeastern coast. It is essential reading for anyone whose view of slavery’s horrors might be softened by the current historical emphasis on slave community and family and slave autonomy and empowerment.

Looking at Gowrie and Butler Island plantations in Georgia and Chicora Wood in South Carolina, William Dusinberre considers a wide range of issues related to daily life and work there: health, economics, politics, dissidence, coercion, discipline, paternalism, and privilege. Based on overseers’ letters, slave testimonies, and plantation records, Them Dark Days offers a vivid reconstruction of slavery in action and casts a sharp new light on slave history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"One of the most ambitious and important studies on slavery to appear in recent years."--Journal of American History

"[A] vast and multifaceted new interpretation of slavery. Among his most impressive achievements is that he draws from these all-too-familiar sources so much that is fresh, provocative, and fully worthy of our attention. . . . Dusinberre's arguments are compelling.”--American Historical Review

"[This book] will, I believe, take its place among the most important studies of southern slavery we have and are likely to get."--Eugene D. Genovese, African American Review

"William Dusinberre has restored a tragic dimension to slave studies, and has done so with a thoroughness and persuasiveness that no future student of slavery will be able to ignore."--Journal of Southwest Georgia History

"There is no other book quite like Them Dark Days. . . . His scholarship is awesome. Dusinberre has a great deal to say that is fresh and exciting about slavery, and his writing style is always clear and often eloquent. . . . I found Them Dark Days both stimulating and enjoyable."--Charles Joyner, Coastal Carolina College

"The book provides a wealth of information on the antebellum lowcountry rice industry and the families that dominated it."--Agricultural History

"Dusinberre certainly knows how to tell a good story. And if some of his material proves to be familiar to lowcountry scholars, these specialists will nevertheless appreciate his detective work in piecing together a coherent, moving account of the complex negotiations and struggles between tidewater slaves and their masters."--Journal of Southern History

"The best local history of slavery published since Charles Joyner's Down by the Riverside . . . An important corrective to recent scholarship and adds new meaning to the neo-abolitionist interpretation."--History: Reviews of New Books

Eugene D. Genovese
In Them Dark Days, William Dusinberre, a superior historical craftsman, provides a deeply researched, acutely analyzed, powerfully written study of the antebellum plantations on the rice coast that should take its place among our most significant studies of Southern slavery....There are pages throughout this book that rank among the most eloquent indictments of slavery ever penned by an historian....Whatever the weaknesses of this impressive, indeed powerful book, it deserves widespread reading and careful discussion. Them Dark Days will, I believe, take its place among the most important studies of Southern slavery we have and are likely to get. -- African American Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820322100
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 1,024,714
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.03 (h) x 1.56 (d)

Meet the Author

William Dusinberre is Reader Emeritus in American History at the University of Warwick. He is the author of Henry Adams: The Myth of Failure and Civil War Issues in Philadelphia, 1856-1865.
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Table of Contents

1 Gentleman Capitalists 3
2 Manigaults and Heywards 28
3 The Charnel House 48
4 Unhappy Families 84
5 Dissidence 122
6 Privilege 178
7 Frances Kemble 213
8 Mothers and Children 235
9 Degradation 248
10 Morale 265
11 The Capitalist as Rice Planter 285
12 Coercion 302
13 Privileged Slaves 319
14 White Supremacy and Paternalist Theory 350
15 The Rice Kingdom 387
16 Retrospect 417
17 Slavery 429
Appendixes 437
Notes 463
Index 541
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