How did slave-owning Southern planters make sense of the transformation of their world in the Civil War era? Matthew Pratt Guterl shows that they looked beyond their borders for answers. He traces the links that bound them to the wider fraternity of slaveholders in Cuba, Brazil, and elsewhere, and charts their changing political place in the hemisphere. Through such figures as the West Indian Confederate Judah Benjamin, Cuban expatriate Ambrosio Gonzales, and the exile Eliza McHatton, Guterl examines how the Southern elite connected--by travel, print culture, even the prospect of future conquest--with the communities of New World slaveholders as they redefined their world. He analyzes why they invested in a vision of the circum-Caribbean, and how their commitment to this broader slave-owning community fared. From Rebel exiles in Cuba to West Indian apprenticeship and the Black Codes to the "labor problem" of the postwar South, this beautifully written book recasts the nineteenth-century South as a complicated borderland in a pan-American vision.
Matthew Pratt Guterl is Professor of Africana Studies and American Studies at Brown University.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. The American Mediterranean
2. The White Republic of the Tropics
3. The Promise of Exile
4. The Labor Problem
5. Latitudes and Longitudes
What People are Saying About This
With this elegantly written study, Guterl powerfully resituates the U.S. South within the 'American Mediterranean,' and in the process he uncovers the story of a Southern, slave-holding master class that understood itself both as 'American' and as a part of the wider arena of slave-holding power in the New World. With its focus on the complex relation between labor and transnationalism, this is a timely and much needed book.
Anna Brickhouse, University of Virginia
This startlingly original, interdisciplinary study compels one to think afresh about the geographical status of the American South. Guterl marshals an impressive range of materials to demonstrate how Southern slaveholders participated in a pan-American class whose shared consciousness relocated them within a circum-Atlantic topography that included the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America. In uncovering this heretofore ignored cartography, he has revealed a deeper history of New World slavery and freedom.