Slave Country Book Review

Earthman then dissects the ban on slave importation from the foreign slave trade, the creation of regulations on the domestic slave trade, and their attempts at minting the spread Of slavery into new territories. He focuses his attention on the deep southern region that covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Earthman maintains that the rise of the plantation system fit closely with the transatlantic system of commodity exchange and was supported by national and local rules designed to spread slavery into the newly developed southwest territories.

The plantation system gained a boost from two new crops not cultivated in the colonial period. Sugar and cotton nearly replaced indigo and tobacco as he southern cash crops even though they required much more labor to produce. The sugar industry also increased in Louisiana in large part due to the successful slave revolt in Saint-Dominique in 1 791, which brought sugar production knowledge and technology to the Americas. Cotton also became important due to international influences. The technological advances in the textile industry in England drove the demand for large quantities of cotton from any region that could provide them.

As Earthman pulls together Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama as the “Deep South” and examines the effects of slavery and American growth, he also relies heavily on Thomas Jefferson civilizing mission of the agrarian frontier as a way to view the results. The trouble Earthman confronts is that Jefferson vision was only possible if the wilderness was not already occupied, which it was not. Earthman claims that Alabama mostly appreciated Jefferson vision and created the largest republican society of the three in part because the planter class had less of a grip on its formation.

What Earthman stated may have been somewhat true although, Alabama territory was also the least touched by European influences having nearly always been controlled by Native Americans. Once Andrew Jackson defeated the Creek Indians during the War of 1 812, the area was ready for whatever system the Americans wished to implement and there was no need for accommodating the Indian population. That was not the case in Louisiana and the Mississippi Territory. Radioman’s analysis of Louisiana slavery is another good example of favoritism for American sources.

He insists that, ‘the broader patterns of transatlantic and intra-Caribbean slave trade, not the preferences of local planters, dictated which Africans would end up in the lower Mississippi Valley’ (page 89). The Americans in Louisiana had no preference for location, but the Creoles did. To support his statement, he quotes William Dunbar, but Dunbar himself disproves Radioman’s claim when he writes, “The AIBO nation lies under a prejudice here & may be excluded” (page 88). Creoles avoided making slaves of the Indian people because they were violent, and tended to provoke slave rebellions.

This is one of the reasons that the British employed AIBO warriors during the Battle of New Orleans. Earthman continually refers to New Orleans and Louisiana public officials in his book. When he refers to public officials, he means American officials or the Creoles who supported American growth. The American presence in Louisiana at this time was a small but growing rapidly. The native Creole population was struggling to hold political control, but found that they needed to be accommodating to the Americans or they risked being pushed out of politics altogether.

Earthman ignores the Creole perception and writes in favor of their American counterpoint. This is especially evident when he discusses the public reaction to Saint-Dominique refugees entering Louisiana. The larger French population welcomed the refugees as fellow countrymen. Louisiana had more economic and political ties with the Caribbean than it did to the mainland. The Americans wanted to stop this trend to avoid the slave rebellions and political uncertainty that the French revolution had caused in the Caribbean. Under the French and Spanish rules, Louisiana gained a large and growing population of free people of color.

Louisiana was a society of whites, mulattos, and blacks. During the American colonial period, that society was condensed into whites and blacks. The Americans scaled back the rights and privileges of the New Orleans free people of color. This had a harmful effect on that population, mulattos either adapted to pass as “white” or they immigrated to France. Earthman also should not have been as surprised by the New Orleans Mulatto Militia’s contribution to the Battle of New Orleans as they had a long and prominent relationship while under Spanish rule.

A major problem arises when a new colonizing force enters into a region with significant internal improvements, as was the case in Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi for the people of European origin. The difficulties surveying Federal lands and the resistance of squatters are two main examples. President Jefferson cabinet had a constant struggle to survey, outline, and bring these plots of land to sale. The Federal Land administration also spent years verifying Louisianan’ land grants from both France and Spain to sort out false claims.

Because the people living there had protections under international treaties and were of European descent, the Americans were forced into accommodating them and were less successful in achieving the ideal republican society in their newly acquired territories. The Early Republic Congressional debate about whether to allow slavery to exist in Louisiana and Mississippi Territory was very pointless. They assumed that the region was a place where slavery could either be enforced or banned while overlooking that slavery had existed in some form since the first colonies emerged in 1699.

However, Earthman did o a good job in representing the effects that slavery had on Native American people. He demonstrated through various examples how the Indian backcountry was not a shelter for escaped slaves. Many slaves nearly died from hunger and being carried off by Indians as war prizes. Slaves were often targeted as paybacks against white offenses. Earthman could have included in his research the taking of Indians by whites as slaves, because the Indians themselves had been targeted as slaves. When Earthman sticks to supportable facts, his book is a detailed read but his explanation of said facts is overly ring.