Slavery: History and Historians

By Peter J. Parish | Go to book overview

social conditions which would foster (or at least not discourage) slave fertility.

The juxtaposition of two features--rigidity and harshness on one hand, a measure of concern for slave living standards on the other--helps to explain one of the inner contradictions of the whole system.19 Southern slavery sought to combine two apparently incompatible elements. It totally denied any rights to the slave, aimed to reduce the slave to a state of total dependence, and tried to confine him or her inescapably within the system. Yet, at the same time, it made material provision for the slave superior to that provided by other systems of bondage, moderated the severity of the system in its practical day-by-day application, made room for an element of paternalism in the master-slave relationship, and used the mediating influence of tacit compromise and "double-think." The slave society of the double standard was the product of a very distinctive historical and demographic background which had been evolving over at least two centuries.


NOTES
1.
Ira Berlin, "Time, Space and the Evolution of Afro-American Society on British Mainland North America," American Historical Review 85 ( 1980): 4-78.
2.
The most authoritative analysis of the slave trade is Philip D. Curtin, The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census ( Madison, Wis., 1969). Herbert S. Klein, The Middle Passage: Comparative Studies in the Atlantic Slave Trade ( Princeton, N.J., 1978) includes discussion of the importation of slaves into the North American mainland A useful modern treatment of the whole subject is James A. Rawley, The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A History ( New York, 1981).
3.
Winthrop D. Jordan, White over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812 ( Chapel Hill, N.C., 1968), 80-2.
4.
The debate among historians about the evolution of slavery in the Chesapeake Bay area during the seventeenth century is skilfully summarized in Boles, Black Southerners, chapter 1, with references to important articles in various journals on 217-8. Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia ( New York, 1975) is a study of major importance. See especially chapter 15 for the switch of emphasis from indentured servitude to slavery in the late seventeenth century.
5.
Peter H. Wood, Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion ( New York, 1974), 96.
6.
Ibid., 326. The brief account in this chapter of the development of slavery in South Carolina relies heavily on Wood's authoritative study.
7.
Eighteenth-century developments are discussed in the later chapters of Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom, and in Ira Berlin, Time, Spaceand the Evolution of Afro-American Society.

-24-

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Slavery: History and Historians
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - The Paradoxical Institution: 1
  • Notes 10
  • 2 - The Making of an Institution 11
  • Notes 24
  • 3 - The Labor of the Slaves 26
  • Notes 41
  • 4 - The Business of Slavery 43
  • Notes 61
  • 5 - The Lives of the Slaves 64
  • Notes 93
  • 6 - Variations, Exceptions, and Comparisons 97
  • Notes 121
  • 7 - Slavery and Southern White Society 124
  • Notes 146
  • 8 - The Death Throes of Slavery 149
  • Notes 165
  • Bibliographic Essay 167
  • Index 189
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