The American Dreams of John B. Prentis, Slave Trader

By Gudmestad, Robert | The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

The American Dreams of John B. Prentis, Slave Trader


Gudmestad, Robert, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


The American Dreams of John B. Prentis, Slave Trader · Kari J. Winter · Athens: University of Georgia Press, 201 1 · xviii, 216 pp. * $59.95 cloth; $22.95 paper

John B. Prentis, the son of a wealthy Virginia judge, eschewed intellectual pursuits to work as an architect's apprentice for a Philadelphia Quaker. While in Pennsylvania, Prentis labored as a carpenter alongside African Americans and flirted with antislavery ideas. When he returned to the Old Dominion, Prentis scuffled about for wealth, buying and selling horses, running a jail, and tracking down pirates before becoming a slave trader. His wife Catherine was instrumental in making the business profitable by preparing meals, sewing clothing, and nursing slaves. Even while Prentis achieved a measure of financial success (on more than one occasion he loaned money to his brother, an attorney), he perceived himself as being of a lower status. In one letter, for instance, he described himself as a "mechanick" and extolled the value of labor (p. 135). And when he died in 1848, his self-drafted will was a plea to be recognized as a gentleman. The will also contained provisions that some of his slaves were to receive money and be emancipated upon the death of his wife. Kari Winter concludes, probably correctly, that Prentis was the father of those slaves.

Even though Winter promises to describe the "clash between the dream of equality and the dream of wealth as they shaped three generations of a prominent Virginia family," John Prentis is clearly the focus of the book (p. 1). The material on Prentis's grandfather and father seemed like an overly long introduction, and the author would have been better off expanding or contracting her coverage of these men. More seriously, Winter's basic premise is flawed. Even though Prentis toyed with antislavery ideas as a youth, he and most nineteenth-century southern whites would not have perceived a clash between equality and wealth. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The American Dreams of John B. Prentis, Slave Trader
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.