Cover image for A troublesome commerce : the transformation of the interstate slave trade
A troublesome commerce : the transformation of the interstate slave trade
Gudmestad, Robert H., 1964-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 246 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Introduction: the problem of speculation -- The strands of forced migration -- Slave resistance, coffles, and the debates over slavery in the nation's capital -- The interstate slave trade and the Southern imagination : the Upper South -- The interstate slave trade and the southern imagination : the Lower South -- Profits and piety -- The trade transformed -- Speculation triumphant -- Epilogue : a troubled legacy.

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E442 .G83 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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When Congress outlawed the international slave trade in 1807, the sporadic practice of selling slaves from one state to another expanded rapidly. This study provides an in-depth examination of the growth and development of the interstate slave trade during the early 19th century.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Poised approximately midway between Michael Tadman's economic analysis Speculators and Slaves: Masters, Traders, and Slaves in the Old South (CH, Jun'90) and Walter Johnson's more psychological and postmodernist Soul by Soul: Life inside the Antebellum Slave Market (CH, Jun'00), Gudmestad's history of the huge interstate slave trade is an essential reference for scholars of US slavery. The "troublesome commerce" formed a necessary and integral but uncomfortable and contested part of slavery in the Old South. Over time, slave traders differentiated themselves from mere "speculators"; the traders, in theory, provided a necessary and honorable middleman service for slave-owning families, while speculators supposedly dealt in human flesh merely for profit. Of course, this was a distinction without a difference, as Gudmestad (Southwest Baptist Univ.) makes painfully clear in minibiographies of highly successful traders such as Isaac Franklin and John Armfield, both of whom built slave-trading businesses and became wealthy plantation owners and philanthropic benefactors. The transformation of the trade from a "loose-limbed speculative enterprise into an advanced and organized business," the "patronizing illusion of benevolence" that accompanied slaveholders' participation in the trade, the muzzling of the churches, and the concealment of the harshest aspects of the trade all make for sobering reading in this fine book. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All public and academic collections. P. Harvey University of Colorado at Colorado Springs