Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in Nineteenth-Century America

By Wilma King | Go to book overview

PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

During the intervening years since the publication of Stolen Childhood in 1995, an abundance of scholarship on slavery has appeared and enriched our knowledge about the institution of slavery across geographical regions and about enslaved children who came of age before 1865. For example, it is now known that the number of youthful Africans transported into the New World was greater than many had believed previously. In fact, the estimates range from one-fourth to one-third to the total. Moreover, a variety of sources, including Erik Hofstee’s dissertation “The Great Divide: Aspects of the Social History of the Middle Passage in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade,” the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database (CD-ROM), narratives by Middle Passage survivors, and the special edition of Slavery and Abolition 27 (August 2006), make data about enslaved children more readily available than ever before. As a result, this work devotes attention to the transatlantic trade in African children in the chapter titled “‘In the Beginning’: The Transatlantic Trade in Children of African Descent.”1

Another rationale for including a chapter about the transatlantic trade is the sheer number of children transported and the fact that youngsters were sought after by captains interested in filling their holds quickly with “affordable” chattel. And after the United States ended its participation in the overseas trade in Africans, an illegal trade continued and children remained a likely choice in the business of buying, transporting, and selling Africans.

The scope of Stolen Childhood has been increased in another way to include slave-born children in the North. The abolition of slavery in the

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