Originating with the birth of the nation itself, in many respects, the story of the domestic slave trade is also the story of the early United States. While an external traffic in slaves had always been present, following the American Revolution this was replaced by a far more vibrant internal trade. Most importantly, an interregional commerce in slaves developed that turned human property into one of the most valuable forms of investment in the country, second only to land. In fact, this form of property became so valuable that when threatened with its ultimate extinction in 1860, southern slave owners believed they had little alternative but to leave the Union. Therefore, while the interregional trade produced great wealth for many people, and the nation, it also helped to tear the country apart.
The domestic slave trade likewise played a fundamental role in antebellum American society. Led by professional traders, who greatly resembled northern entrepreneurs, this traffic was a central component in the market revolution of the early nineteenth century. In addition, the development of an extensive local trade meant that the domestic trade, in all its configurations, was a prominent feature in southern life. Yet, this indispensable part of the slave system also raised many troubling questions. For those outside the South, it affected their impression of both the region and the new nation. For slaveholders, it proved to be the most difficult part of their institution to defend. And for those who found themselves commodities in this trade, it was something that needed to be resisted at all costs.
Carry Me Back restores the domestic slave trade to the prominent place that it deserves in early American history, exposing the many complexities of southern slavery and antebellum American life.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Steven Deyle is Associate Professor of History at the University of Houston.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Informed by hundreds of primary and secondary sources, this book is an excellent and first account of "what the domestic slave trade meant for American Society, North and South" (14). Deyle explores the positive and negative aspects of the trade according to how individuals in the 19th C. viewed them. Historiographically, historians have typically neglected to study the domestic slave trade, a system that bought and sold 2 million individuals, half of the total slave population, as commodities from 1820-60. Deyle presents many exciting and carefully crafted arguments in Carry Me Back. First and foremost, the slave trade was a significant part of many individuals' lives for over sixty years. This trade had its birth in the American Revolution. Furthermore, slavery was responsible for the early division between the North and the South. With the cotton gin and resulting Cotton Kingdom, the South was entrenched in race-based plantation labor more than ever before. This also caused the price of enslaved individuals to rise. Deyle defines a slave trader as anyone who ever engaged in buying and selling slaves. "At one time or another, virtually every slave owner in the South participated in this trade" (7). Sometimes slaves were sold as cash or for quick cash. Although most did not make a living on this, a few did and a few became extremely rich. This money still lingers in society today. It provided funds that began colleges, including Georgetown College in Washington, D.C. Also, rather than perpetuating stereotypes of the slave trader, Deyle explores them, without neglecting to examine their cruelties, as businesspersons participating in the larger Market Revolution. Besides divisions between the North and South, there were divisions between the Upper South ("breeders") and Lower South ("buyers"). These divisions were directly over the domestic trade. Beginning around the 1830s, the North and South increasingly grew in opposition. For one thing, most Northerners had not directly experienced slavery since its abolition in the late 1790s and early 1800s. The younger generation was particularly dissatisfied with the South having slavery (even though they were "wage slaves" according to proslavery ideologies). Deyle also argues that the buying and selling of slaves troubled Southerners more than any other component of slavery, as it contradicted their proslavery rhetoric and images. African-American slaves resisted their sale when they could. They, for example, warned children at a young age, created fictive kin networks, and, at times, elected violence. The slave trade hurt the African-American family the most. And are there weaknesses in Carry Me Back? A few e.g., when discussing slave auctions conducted by individual states, a specific section on the sale of the (an estimated 50K) illegally imported Africans would have made a nice addition. Also, the book does not specifically acknowledge that 75% of families did not own slaves. Carry Me Back is an excellent book. Deyle uses the trajectory of slavery, along with a backdrop of cultural, economic, political, and social events, such as the market and transportation revolutions, in the 19th C. so well this book would be an appropriate selection for survey courses. Deyle provides readers with pure history, free of jargon and theory. Furthermore, he explores the true, yet often neglected horrors of the slave trade and race-based slavery.