The Yamasee War: A Study of Culture, Economy, and Conflict in the Colonial South

Synopsis

William L. Ramsey provides a thorough reappraisal of the Yamasee War, an event that stands alongside King Philip's War in New England and Pontiac's Rebellion as one of the three major "Indian wars" of the colonial era. By arguing that the Yamasee War may be the definitive watershed in the formation of the Old South, Ramsey challenges traditional arguments about the war's origins and positions the prewar concerns of Native Americans within the context of recent studies of the Indian slave trade and the Atlantic economy. The Yamasee War was a violent and bloody conflict between southeastern American Indian tribes and English colonists in South Carolina from 1715 to 1718. Ramsey's discussion of the war itself goes far beyond the coastal conflicts between Yamasees and Carolinians, however, and evaluates the regional diplomatic issues that drew Indian nations as far distant as the Choctaws in modern-day Mississippi into a far-flung anti-English alliance. In tracing the decline of Indian slavery within South Carolina during and after the war, the book reveals the shift in white racial ideology that responded to wartime concerns, including anxieties about a "black majority," which shaped efforts to revive Anglo-Indian trade relations, control the slave population, and defend the southern frontier. In assessing the causes and consequences of this pivotal conflict, The Yamasee War situates it in the broader context of southern history.