Cover image for Jews and the American slave trade
Jews and the American slave trade
Friedman, Saul S., 1937-2013.
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Transaction Publishers, [1998]

Physical Description:
xiv, 326 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.S443 F75 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The Nation of Islam's Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews has been called one of the most serious anti-Semitic manuscripts published in years. This work of so-called scholars received great celebrity from individuals like Louis Farrakhan, Leonard Jeffries, and Khalid Abdul Muhammed who used the document to claim that Jews dominated both transatlantic and antebellum South slave trades. As Saul Friedman definitively documents in Jews and the American Slave Trade, historical evidence suggests that Jews played a minimal role in the transatlantic, South American, Caribbean, and antebellum slave trades.

Jews and the American Slave Trade dissects the questionable historical technique employed in Secret Relationship, offers a detailed response to Farrakhan's charges, and analyzes the impetus behind these charges. He begins with in-depth discussion of the attitudes of ancient peoples, Africans, Arabs, and Jews toward slavery and explores the Jewish role hi colonial European economic life from the Age of Discovery tp Napoleon. His state-by-state analyses describe in detail the institution of slavery in North America from colonial New England to Louisiana. Friedman elucidates the role of American Jews toward the great nineteenth-century moral debate, the positions they took, and explains what shattered the alliance between these two vulnerable minority groups in America.

Rooted in incontrovertible historical evidence, provocative without being incendiary, Jews and the American Slave Trade demonstrates that the anti-slavery tradition rooted in the Old Testament translated into powerful prohibitions with respect to any involvement in the slave trade. This brilliant exploration will be of interest to scholars of modern Jewish history, African-American studies, American Jewish history, U.S. history, and minority studies.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this forceful and impassioned response to the Nation of Islam's Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews (1991), Friedman (Youngstown State Univ.) combines his own extensive primary source research in American archives with the findings of David Brion Davis and hundreds of other distinguished scholars, to document conclusively "that Jews did not dominate the slave trade in the European colonies of South America and the Caribbean or the antebellum South." Like Harold Brackman's A Ministry of Lies (1994) and the Anti-Defamation League's Jew-Hatred as History (1993), Friedman's work systematically exposes the incendiary distortions and deliberate exaggerations that characterize the Nation of Islam's antisemitic "Handbook of Hate." While his fiercely polemical tone sometimes obscures the subtleties of an argument that ranges from detailed analyses of Old Testament theology and the Code Noir to impassioned meditations on the "black Holocaust" and contemporary relations between blacks and Jews, Friedman's essential point remains clear: "when the import and sale of Africans was at its peak Jews owned less than three-one hundredths of a percent, 0.03 percent of all the slaves in America." All levels. E. R. Papenfuse Yale University