Eric V. Snow

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Slavery is on a Continuum of Social Systems of Subordination
More importantly, this work attempts to portray much of what occurred to these two subordinate classes as hardly unique, even though some important differences remained between the two due to different legal statuses and the results coming from the laborers' families attempted to independently sustain themselves as an economic unit, while almost no slaves did that. In both cases, the elites in question could not do as they please, even when one of them, American slaveholders, had nearly absolute power over their subordinate class. It is necessary to avoid over-emphasizing the effectiveness the elite may have over the minds of their subjects--a mistake Fogel and Engerman, Elkins, and Genovese all commit to one degree or another, through whatever variation of hegemony they applied to analyze American slavery. Clark, in his English Society, may commit a similar error, but since that work intentionally focuses on the beliefs and acts of the elite, dealing with the subordinate classes only incidently, convicting him on this score cannot be easily be done based on that work alone. Barrow had the self-deceit to maintain that: "A plantation might be considered as a piece of machinery, to operate successfully, all of its parts should be uniform and exact, and the impelling force regular and steady; and the master, if he pretended at all to attend to his business, should be their impelling force."672 However, in the real world, especially when the numbers of slaves so heavily outnumbered him and his family, his personal chattels' own ideas about how the plantation should be run inevitably had much influence over its practical functioning, even as he freely applied the lash and other punishments. The same went for the English elite when they faced restive laborers in their midst, especially that small but powerful minority organized as part of a union: They simply could not always have their way, regardless of their ability to create enclosures, raise food prices, lower wages, change laws governing relief, employ new technology in agriculture, and ending service, without being constrained by the fears of riots or arsons breaking out against them.
The above work has avoided seeing race as some kind of ultimate reality for the American system of slavery, even as racism was necessary for its practical functioning. Slaveholders felt uncomfortable with especially light-skinned slaves, who could pass as whites or nearly so. This was not only because they could escape more easily, but also because the similarity in skin-color made them reflect on the humanity and likeness to themselves of those they held in bondage. William Pease, born a slave, had blue eyes and passed for white among strangers. Three or four trading houses in slaves refused to buy him because he "was too white for them." One slaveholder (not his master) told him while on board a ship: "You're as white as my daughter there . . . all you've got to do when we get to a landing is take your clothes and walk." He was able to escape from Arkansas without being questioned once. He fled because his master was going to whip him, not for any specific offense, but because "niggers always should be whipped some, no matter how good they are, else they'll forget that they are niggers."673 Even in this case, Pease's condition of bondage trumped his light skin color, even as it allowed him to easily escape, since he could be whipped as much by his owner as the darkest-complexioned slave. The comparison made generally above places American slavery on a continuum with other systems of social subordination, not seeing it as unique in its effects on those oppressed, through comparing it with English laborers. Correspondingly, "black labor" and "slave labor" have intentionally not been equated above, partly because 11 percent of all blacks in the South were free, but also because the blacks' condition of bondage effected their treatment more than any other factor. Even as it channeled the expression of racism by a particular means, this particular social system had many, many negative effects on the slaves over and above any directly resulting from racism. Oppression is oppression, whether done for reasons of race, profit, or power lust. American Slavery actually may have provided a higher standard of living than most southern English laborers enjoyed, but a much lower overall quality of life, because of how it provided inferior quality human relationships between family members (by the dominant group breaking the subordinate class's families up for profit-seeking reasons) and also between workers and "management," generally considered, due to the slave master's ability to use corporal punishment and confiscate the total product of the slave's labor for his own benefit.
A comparative historical analysis can bring insights to the surface that otherwise would be missed, such as the above has done, so long as the comparison does not involve two fruits as different as apples and oranges. Elkins's overriding mistake was to create a comparison between an system of subordination designed to systematically exterminate and destroy its subordinate class with another that had to keep it in existence to profitably raise crops in commercial agriculture. By comparing two groups at nearly the same time in nations with fairly similar cultures and technological levels, Elkins' pitfall is avoided, while new insights are brought to the fore. New insights will continue to come, breaking out of the rigid categories of "victimization" and "Sambo-bashing" by others continuing to follow David Davis's prediction: "I think it is not improbable that future studies of slavery will be less concerned with race as the ultimate reality, especially as we more accurately locate slavery on a spectrum of labor systems."674


1. American Slaves--Primary Works

Armstrong, Orland Kay. Old Massa's People: The Old Slaves Tell Their Story. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1931.

Ball, Charles. Slavery in the United States: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball, A Black Man. 1837; reprint ed., New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1969.
Bassett, John Spencer. The Southern Plantation Overseer as Revealed in His Letters. Northampton, MA: Smith College, 1925.
Boney, F.N. "The Blue Lizard: Another View of Nat Turner's Country on the Eve of Rebellion." Phylon 31 (winter 1970):351-58.
Botkin, B.A., ed. Lay My Burden Down: A Folk History of Slavery (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945).
Brent, Linda. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. 1861; reprint ed., San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1973.
Chesnut, Mary Boykin. A Diary from Dixie. Ed., Ben Ames Williams. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1949.
Davis, Edwin Adams. Plantation Life in the Florida Parishes of Louisiana, 1836-1846 as Reflected in the Diary of Bennet H. Barrow. Columbia University Studies in the History of American Agriculture, no. 9. New York: Columbia University Press, 1943.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave Written by Himself. 1845; reprint ed., New York: New American Library/Penguin, 1968.
Drew, Benjamin. A North-Side View of Slavery: The Refugee: or the Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada. 1856; reprint ed., New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1968.
Kemble, France Ann. Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838- 1839. New York: Harper & Bros., Publishers, 1863.
Northrup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave. Eds. Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon. 1853; reprint ed., Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1968.
Olmsted, Frederick Law. The Cotton Kingdom: A Traveller's Observations on Cotton and Slavery in the American Slave States. 2 volumes. New York: Mason Brothers, 1861.
Olmsted, Frederick Law. A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States in the Years 1853-1854 with Remarks on Their Economy. 2 vols. New York: 1856; reprint ed., New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1904.
Walker, Jonathan. Trial and Imprisonment of Jonathan Walker, at Pensacola, Florida, for Aiding Slaves to Escape from Bondage. With an Appendix, Containing a Sketch of his Life. Boston: Anti-Slavery Office, 1845.
Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery. 1901; reprint ed., New York: Airmount Publishing Co., 1967.

2. American Slaves--Secondary Works--Books

Aptheker, Herbert. American Negro Slave Revolts. Columbia University Studies in the Social Sciences, no. 501. New York: Columbia University Press, 1943.

Blassingame, John W. The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South. Rev. and enl. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.
David, Paul A.; Gutman, Herbert G.; Sutch, Richard; Temin, Peter; and Wright, Gavin. Reckoning with Slavery: A Critical Study in the Quantitative History of American Slavery. Introduction by Kenneth M. Stampp. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.
Elkins, Stanley M. Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959.
Fogel, Robert William and Stanley Engerman. Time on the Cross. 2 vols. Vol. 1: The Economics of American Negro Slavery. Vol. 2: Evidence and Methods--A Supplement. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1974.
Franklin, John Hope. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans. 5th ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980.
Genovese, Eugene D. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1966.
Gutman, Herbert G. Slavery and the Numbers Game: A Critique of Time on the Cross. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1975.
Harding, Vincent. "Religion and Resistance among Antebellum Negroes, 1800- 1860." August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, eds. The Making of Black America. vol. 1: The Origins of Black Americans. Studies in American Negro Life, August Meier, gen. ed. New York: Atheneum, 1969.
Jordan, Winthrop D. The Whiteman's Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.
Kolchin, Peter. Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom. Cambridge: Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 1987.
Lane, Ann J. The Debate over Slavery: Stanley Elkins and His Critics. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1971.
Norton, Mary Beth. Liberty's Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750-1800. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman & Co., 1980.
Reed, T. Edward. "Caucasian Genes in American Negroes." Laura Newell Morris, ed. Human Populations, Genetic Variation, and Evolution. San Francisco: Chandler Publishing Co., 1971.
Stampp, Kenneth M. The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956.

3. American Slaves--Secondary Works--Articles
Allmendinger, Blake. "Acting and Slavery: Representations of Work in the Writings of Fanny Kemble." Mississippi Quarterly 41 (fall 1988):507-13.
Anderson, James D. "Aunt Jemima in Dialectics: Genovese on Slave Culture." Journal of Negro History 61 (Jan. 1976):99-114.
________. "Black Conjugations." American Scholar (summer 1977):384-392.
Bellamy, Donnie D. "Slavery in Microcosm: Onslow County, North Carolina." Journal of Negro History 62 (Oct. 1977):339-50.
Berlin, Ira. "After Nat Turner: A Letter from the North." Journal of Negro History 55 (Apr. 1970):144-51.
Berlin, Ira; Cary, Francine C.; Miller, Steven F.; and Rowland, Leslie S. "Family and Freedom: Black Families in the American Civil War." History Today 37 (Jan. 1987):8-15.
Berry, Mary F. and John W. Blassingame. "Africa, Slavery, and the Roots of the Contemporary Black Culture." Massachusetts Review 18 (autumn 1977):501-16.
Blassingame, John W. "The Recruitment of Colored Troops in Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, 1863-1865." Historian 39 (Aug. 1967):533-45.
Boney, F.N. "Thomas Stevens, Antebellum Georgian." South Atlantic Quarterly 72 (spring 1973):226-42
Brown, Wallace. "Negroes and the American Revolution." History Today 14 (Aug. 1964):556-63.
Campbell, John. "Work, Pregnancy, and Infant Mortality among Southern Slaves." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 14 (spring 1984):793-812.
Cassell, Frank A. "Slaves of the Chesapeake Bay Area and the War of 1812." Journal of Negro History 57 (Apr. 1972):144-55.
Chaplin, Joyce E. "Slavery and the Principle of Humanity: A Modern Idea in the Early Lower South." Journal of Social History 24 (winter 1990):299- 315.
Cimprich, John. "Slave Behavior during the Federal Occupation of Tennessee, 1862-1865." Historian 44 (May 1982):335-46.
Cole, Johnetta. "Affirmation of Resistance: A Response to Angela Davis." Massachusetts Review 13 (winter-spring 1972):100-103.
Crader, Diana C. "Slave Diet at Monticello." American Antiquity 55 (Oct. 1990):690-717.
Davis, Angela Y. "Reflections on the Black Woman's Role in the Community of Slaves." Massachusetts Review 13 (winter-spring 1972):81-100.
Davis, David Brion. "Slavery and the Post-World War II Historians." Daedalus 103 (spring 1974):1-16.
Davis, Jack E. "Changing Places: Slave Movement in the South." Historian 55 (summer 1993):657-76.
Degler, Carl N. "The Foundations of Southern Distinctiveness." Southern Review 13 (spring 1977):225-39.
Dill, Bonnie Thornton. "Our Mothers' Grief: Racial Ethnic Women and the Maintenance of Families." Journal of Family History 13 (1988):415-431.
Dunn, Richard S. "'Dreadful Idlers' in the Cane Fields: The Slave Labor Pattern on a Jamaican Sugar Estate, 1762-1831." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 17 (spring 1987):795-822.
Eltis, David. "Nutritional Trends in Africa and the Americas: Heights of Africans, 1819-1839." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 12 (winter 1982):453-47.
Farrison, W. Edward. "A Theologian's Missouri Compromise." Journal of Negro History 47 (Jan. 1963):33-43.
Freudenberger, Herman and Pritchett, Jonathan B. "The Domestic United States Slave Trade: New Evidence." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 21 (winter 1991):447-77.
Frey, Sylvia R. "The British and the Black: A New Perspective." Historian 38 (Feb. 1976):225-38.
Gallay, Alan. "The Origins of Slaveholders' Paternalism: George Whitefield, the Bryan Family, and the Great Awakening in the South." Journal of Southern History 53 (Aug. 1987):369-94.
Genovese, Eugene D. "The Negro Laborer in Africa and the Slave South." Phylon 21 (winter 1960):343-50.
________. "The Medical and Insurance Costs of Slaveholding in the Cotton Belt." Journal of Negro History 45 (July 1960):141-55.

Glass, Bentley, and C.C. Li. "The Dynamics of Racial Intermixture--an Analysis Based on the American Negro." American Journal of Human Genetics 5 (Mar. 1953):1-20.

Glass, Bentley. "On the Unlikelihood of Significant Admixture of Genes from the North American Indians in the Present Composition of the Negroes of the United States." American Journal of Human Genetics 7 (Dec. 1955):368-85.
Govan, Thomas P. "Was the Old South Different?" Journal of Southern History 21 (Nov. 1955):447-55
Graham, Pearl M. "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings." Journal of Negro History 44 (Apr. 1961):89-103.
Gundersen, Joan Rezner. "The Double Bonds of Race and Sex: Black and White Women in a Colonial Virginia Parish." Journal of Southern History 52 (Aug. 1986):351-72.
Hayne, Barrie. "Yankee in the Patriarchy: T.B. Thorpe's Reply to Uncle Tom's Cabin." American Quarterly 20 (summer 1968):180-195.
Heuman, Gad. "The Response of the Slaves." History Today 34 (April 1984):31- 35.
Inscoe, John C. "Carolina Slave Names: An Index to Acculturation." Journal of Southern History 49 (Nov. 1983):527-54.
Johnson, Michael P. "Smothered Slave Infants: Were Slave Mothers at Fault?" Journal of Southern History 47 (Nov. 1981):493-520.
Kilson, Marion D.deB. "Towards Freedom: An Analysis of Slave Revolts in the United States." Phylon 25 (summer 1964):175-87.
King, Richard H. "Marxism and the Slave South." American Quarterly 29 (spring 1977):117-131.
Kiple, Kenneth F., and Kiple, Virginia H. "Black Tongue and Black Men: Pellagra and Slavery in the Antebellum South." Journal of Southern History 43 (Aug. 1977):411-28.
Kolchin, Peter. "More 'Time on the Cross'? An Evaluation of Robert William Fogel's 'Without Consent or Contract.'" Journal of Southern History 58 (Aug. 1992):491-502.
Lewis, Mary Agnes. "Slavery and Personality: A Further Comment." American Quarterly 19 (spring 1967):114-21.
Lichtenstein, Alex. "'That Disposition to Theft, with which They Have Been Branded': Moral Economy, Slave Management, and the Law." Journal of Social History 21 (spring 1988):413-40.
Littlefield, Daniel C. "Plantations, Paternalism, and Profitability: Factors Affecting African Demography in the Old British Empire." Journal of Southern History 47 (May 1981):167-82.
Lowe, Richard G. and Campbell, Randolph B. "The Slave-Breeding Hypothesis: A Demographic Comment on the 'Buying' and 'Selling' States." Journal of Southern History 42 (Aug. 1976):401-12.
McDaniel, Antonio. "The Power of Culture: A Review of the Idea of Africa's Influence on Family Structure in Antebellum America." Journal of Family History 15 (1990):225-38.
McKenzie, Robert Tracy. "Freedmen and the Soil in the Upper South: The Reorganization of Tennessee Agriculture, 1865-1880." Journal of Southern History 49 (Feb. 1993):63-84.
May, Robert E. "John A. Quitman and His Slaves: Reconciling Slave Resistance with the Proslavery Defense." Journal of Southern History 46 (Nov.


Messner, William F. "Black Violence and White Response: Louisiana, 1862." Journal of Southern History 41 (Feb. 1975):19-38.
Miles, Edwin. "The Mississippi Slave Insurrection Scare of 1835." Journal of Negro History 42 (Jan. 1957):48-60.
Mohr, Clarence L. "Before Sherman: Georgia Blacks and the Union War Effort, 1861-1864." Journal of Southern History 45 (Aug. 1979):331-52.
________. "Slavery in Oglethorpe County, Georgia 1773-1865." Phylon 33 (spring 1972):4-21.
________. "Southern Blacks in the Civil War: A Century of Historiography." Journal of Negro History 59 (Apr. 1974):177-95.
Morgan, Phillip D. "The Ownership of Property by Slaves in the Mid- Nineteenth-Century Low Country." Journal of Southern History 49 (Aug. 1983):399-420.
Morris, Christopher. "An Event in Community Organization: The Mississippi Slave Insurrection Scare of 1835." Journal of Social History 22 (fall

1988): 93-111.
Nichols, Charles H. "Who Read the Slave Narratives?" Phylon 20 (summer 1959):149-62.
Nichols, William W. "Slave Narratives: Dismissed Evidence in the Writing of Southern History." Phylon 32 (winter 1971):403-9.
O'Brien, Michael. "'A Sort of Cosmopolitan Dog': Francis Lieber in the

South." Southern Review 25 (Apr. 1989):308-22.

Orser, Charles E., Jr. "The Archaeological Analysis of Plantation Society: Replacing Status and Caste with Economics and Power." American Antiquity 53 (Oct. 1988):735-51.
Palmer, Paul C. "Servant into Slave: The Evolution of the Legal Status of the Negro Laborer in Colonial Virginia." South Atlantic Quarterly 65 (summer 1966):355-70.
Paquette, Robert L. "Social History Update: Slave Resistance and Social History." Journal of Social History 24 (spring 1991):681-85.
Piersen, William D. "White Cannibals, Black Martyrs: Fear, Depression, and Religious Faith as Causes of Suicide among New Slaves." Journal of Negro History 62 (Apr. 1977):147-59.
Porter, Kenneth Wiggins. "Negroes and the Seminole War, 1835-1842." Journal of Southern History 30 (Nov. 1964):427-50.
Roberts, D.F. "The Dynamics of Racial Intermixture in the American Negro--Some Anthropological Considerations." American Journal of Human Genetics 7 (Dec. 1955):361-67.
Roediger, David R. "And Die in Dixie: Funerals, Death, and Heaven in the Slave Community 1700-1865." Massachusetts Review 21 (spring 1981):163- 83.
Scott, John A. "On the Authenticity of Fanny Kemble's Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-39." Journal of Negro History 46 (Oct. 1961):233-242.
Schafer, Judith Kelleher. "New Orleans Slavery in 1850 as Seen in Advertisements." Journal of Southern History 47 (Feb. 1981):33-56.
Shore, Laurence. "The Poverty of Tragedy in Historical Writing on Southern Slavery." South Atlantic Quarterly 85 (spring 1986):147-64.
Sides, Sudie Duncan. "Slave Weddings and Religion: Plantation Life in the Southern States before the American Civil War." History Today 24 (Feb. 1974):77-87.
________. "Southern Women and Slavery Part I." History Today 20 (Jan. 1970):54-60.
________. "Southern Women and Slavery Part II." History Today 20 (Feb. 1970):124-30.

Smith, John David. "'Keep'em in a Fire-Proof Vault'--Pioneer Southern Historians Discover Plantation Records." South Atlantic Quarterly 78 (summer 1979):376-91.

Stampp, Kenneth M. "Rebels and Sambos: The Search for the Negro's Personality in Slavery." Journal of Southern History 37 (Aug. 1971):367-92.

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