*The American Slave Coast*

I very much liked this lengthy but highly readable book by Ned and Constance Sublette, subtitled A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry, and that subtitle does indeed reflect the emphasis.  Here are a few of the things I learned from it:

1. Barbados took in more African slaves than did the entire United States; Alex had a related post on the size of American importation.

2. President James Polk speculated in slaves, based on inside information he obtained from being President and shaping policy toward slaves and slave importation.

3. In the South there were slave “breeding farms,” where the number of women and children far outnumbered the number of men.

4. The price of a slave peaked in his or her late teens.  There was another price spike upwards at about age eight, when child mortality declined.

5. Much of the University of Virginia was built by slaves; is anyone calling for those buildings to be torn down?

6. Quite possibly the sugar plantations model, including for slave deployment, stems from São Tomé, starting in the late 15th century.

7. George Mason wanted to cut off the African slave trade into Virginia, although the authors suggest many people supported this view because they wished to increase the value of the stock of slaves already in the state.  I could not tell whether this was Mason’s motive or not.

8. The Anglo-American settlers of Louisiana were primarily from Kentucky.

9. In the time of slavery, the South was generally considered to be less anti-Semitic toward Jews than the North.

Recommended, here is the Amazon link.  And here is Jason Kottke on the book.  And here is a good Malcolm Harris review.


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