Tumult and Silence at Second Creek: An Inquiry into a Civil War Slave Conspiracy / Edition 1

Tumult and Silence at Second Creek: An Inquiry into a Civil War Slave Conspiracy / Edition 1

by Winthrop D. Jordan
     
 

In the war-fevered spring and summer of 1861, a group of slaves in Adams County, Mississippi, conspired to gain their freedom by overthrowing and murdering their white masters. The conspiracy was discovered, the plotters were arrested and tried, and at least forty slaves in and around Natchez were hanged. By November the affair was over, and the planters of the

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Overview

In the war-fevered spring and summer of 1861, a group of slaves in Adams County, Mississippi, conspired to gain their freedom by overthrowing and murdering their white masters. The conspiracy was discovered, the plotters were arrested and tried, and at least forty slaves in and around Natchez were hanged. By November the affair was over, and the planters of the district united to conceal the event behind a veil of silence. In 1971, Winthrop D. Jordan came upon the central document, previously unanalyzed by modern scholars, upon which this extraordinary book is based - a record of the testimony of some of the accused slaves as they were interrogated by a committee of planters determined to ferret out what was going on. This discovery led him on a twenty-year search for additional information about the aborted rebellion. Because no official report or even newspaper account of the plot existed, the search for evidence became a feat of historical detection. Jordan gathered information from every possible source - the private letters and diaries of members of the families involved in suppressing the conspiracy and of people who recorded the rumors that swept the Natchez area in the unsettled months following the beginning of the war; letters from Confederate soldiers concerned about the events back home; the journal of a Union officer who heard of the plot; records of the postwar Southern Claims Commission; census documents; plantation papers; even gravestones. What has emerged from this odyssey of research is a brilliantly written re-creation of one of the last slave conspiracies in the United States. It is also a revealing portrait of the Natchez region at the very beginning of the CivilWar, when Adams County was one of the wealthiest communities in the nation and a few powerful families interconnected by marriage and business controlled not only a large black population but the poorer whites as well. In piecing together the fragments of extant information about the conspiracy, Jordan has produced a vivid picture of the plantation slave community in southwestern Mississippi in 1861 - its composition and distribution; the degree of mobility permitted slaves; the ways information was passed around slave quarters and from plantation to plantation; the possibilities for communication with town slaves, free blacks, and white abolitionists. Jordan also explores the treatment of blacks by their owners, the kinds of resentments the slaves harbored, the sacrifices they were willing to make to protect or avenge abused family members, and the various ways in which they viewed freedom. Tumult and Silence at Second Creek is a major work by one of the most distinguished scholars of slavery and race relations. Winthrop D. Jordan's study of the slave society of the Natchez area at the onset of the Civil War is a landmark contribution to the field. More than that, his exhaustive and resourceful search for documentation and his careful analysis of sources make the study an extended and innovative essay on the nature of historical evidence and inference.

LSU Press

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807120392
Publisher:
Louisiana State University Press
Publication date:
01/28/1996
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
424
Product dimensions:
6.06(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.08(d)

Table of Contents

Note of Appreciation and Thanks
Abbreviations and Notations on Sources
Introduction1
Ch. 1An Episode in May9
Ch. 2Evidentiary Sounds and Voices20
Ch. 3Of Water, Land, and Work29
Ch. 4Of the Planting Classes46
Ch. 5Of One Kind of Politics60
Ch. 6The Trials73
Ch. 7The Rebels99
Ch. 8Road Travelers136
Ch. 9Of Women White and Black149
Ch. 10Of Ideologies and Occupations181
Ch. 11Of Means and Leaders212
Ch. 12The Voices of Reprise237
Ch. 13A Separate Peace260
Appendixes: Documents and Cast of Characters
Note on the Documents265
Document A: Lemuel P. Conner's Record (Literal)268
Document B: Lemuel P. Conner's Record (Augmented)285
Document C: Susan Sillers Darden Diary303
Document D: How[ell] Hines to Governor308
Document E: Jo. D. L. Davenport to Governor310
Document F: Benjamin L. C. Wailes Diary311
Documents G: Louisa and Joseph Lowell Letters315
Document H: William I. Minor Plantation Diary317
Document I: S[ophia] H. Hunt to Jennie [Hughes]320
Documents J: William H. Ker to Mary S. Ker321
Document K: A. K. Farrar to Governor323
Document L: Van S. Bennett Diary325
Document M: Statement of Pleasant Scott326
Document N: Statement of James Carter328
Document O: Testimony of Rebecca A. Minor330
Document P: Testimony of William T. Martin334
Document Q: Brief on Loyalty, Katherine S. Minor Claim338
Document R: Opinion on the Minors' Role at the Racetrack340
Document Y: Charlie Davenport Interview (Version Y)341
Document Z: Charlie Davenport Interview (Version Z)345
Cast of Characters
Black, by Own Name (If Known)349
Black, by Owner's Name or Not Owned354
White358
Index369

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