ISBN-10:
080716111X
ISBN-13:
9780807161111
Pub. Date:
11/16/2015
Publisher:
Louisiana State University Press
Slave against Slave: Plantation Violence in the Old South

Slave against Slave: Plantation Violence in the Old South

by Jeff ForretJeff Forret
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Overview

In the first-ever comprehensive analysis of violence between slaves in the antebellum South, Jeff Forret challenges persistent notions of slave communities as sites of unwavering harmony and solidarity. Though existing scholarship shows that intraracial black violence did not reach high levels until after Reconstruction, contemporary records bear witness to its regular presence among enslaved populations. Slave against Slave explores the roots of and motivations for such violence and the ways in which slaves, masters, churches, and civil and criminal laws worked to hold it in check. Far from focusing on violence alone, Forret's work also adds depth to our understanding of morality among the enslaved, revealing how slaves sought to prevent violence and punish those who engaged in it.
Forret mines a vast array of slave narratives, slaveholders' journals, travelers' accounts, and church and court records from across the South to approximate the prevalence of slave-against-slave violence prior to the Civil War. A diverse range of motives for these conflicts emerges, from tensions over status differences, to disagreements originating at work and in private, to discord relating to the slave economy and the web of debts that slaves owed one another, to courtship rivalries, marital disputes, and adulterous affairs. Forret also uncovers the role of explicitly gendered violence in bondpeople's constructions of masculinity and femininity, suggesting a system of honor among slaves that would have been familiar to southern white men and women, had they cared to acknowledge it.
Though many generations of scholars have examined violence in the South as perpetrated by and against whites, the internal clashes within the slave quarters have remained largely unexplored. Forret's analysis of intraracial slave conflicts in the Old South examines narratives of violence in slave communities, opening a new line of inquiry into the study of American slavery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807161111
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Publication date: 11/16/2015
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 544
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Jeff Forret is professor of history at Lamar University and the author of Race Relations at the Margins: Slaves and Poor Whites in the Antebellum Southern Countryside.

What People are Saying About This

Doug Egerton

"Slave Against Slave is a boldly conceptualized and meticulously researched book that will take its place as one of the most important studies of slavery to be published in the last decade. The tragic reality of violence within the quarters has been too long untold, but in this nuanced, thoughtful volume, Jeff Forret draws a deeply humane portrait of one of the most troubling aspects of slave life." — Douglas R. Egerton, author of The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America's Most Progressive Era

Peter Kolchin

"An important book on a seriously understudied topic. In Slave Against Slave, Jeff Forret reshapes our understanding of relations among slaves in the antebellum South." — Peter Kolchin, Henry Clay Reed Professor of History, University Delaware

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