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Book

Slavery and Forced Migration in the Antebellum South

This book sheds new light on domestic forced migration by examining the experiences of American-born slave migrants from a comparative perspective.

Author
Damian Pargas
Date
20 March 2015
Links
Cambridge University Press

Forced slave migration

American slavery during the antebellum period (roughly 1820 – 1860) was characterized by a massive wave of forced migration as millions of slaves were moved across state lines to the expanding southwest, scattered locally, and sold or hired out in towns and cities across the South.  

This book sheds new light on domestic forced migration by examining the experiences of American-born slave migrants from a comparative perspective. Juxtaposing and contrasting the experiences of long-distance, local, and urban slave migrants, it analyzes how different migrant groups anticipated, reacted to, and experienced forced removal, as well as how they adapted to their new homes. 

Almost a million American-born slaves from the ‘older’ slave states in the east were sold to the expanding Deep South uprooting them, but slaves were also increasingly scattered locally through estate divisions and local sales. And finally more and more slaves were sold or hired out in the burgeoning cities of the region.

Perspective of the forced migrants

Slavery and Forced Migration in the Antebellum South focusses on how the American slaves anticipated on this forced migration from a comparative perspective and contrasts the experiences of long-distance, local and urban slave migrants born in the American South. It addresses the examination of the ways in which slave migrants attempted to rebuild their lives, how they assimilated to new slave communities, adjusted to new masters or resisted etc. 

Also, the book focuses on the consequences the forced migration had on the formation of identity among American-born slaves, underscoring the importance of regional and fluid identities in the development of antebellum slave cultures. From the perspective of the forced migrants it also examines the different experiences according to age, sex, regional background, and type of migration.

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