Atlantic Slave Trade

Three reviews

Gerald Horne. The Deepest South: The United States, Brazil, and the African Slave Trade. New York: New York University Press, 2007. v + 339 pp. Illustrations, notes, index. $75.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8147-3688-3; $24.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8147-3689-0.

Reviewed for H-SHEAR by Stephen D. Behrendt, Department of History, Victoria University of Wellington

The Antebellum Quest for a Southern Slaving World
Gerald Horne's The Deepest South is one of many works on Atlantic slaving published in 2007 to coincide with the two-hundred-year anniversary of the abolition of the British and U.S. slave trades. In contrast to other studies, this effort does not build on the author's Ph.D. dissertation or published articles; in contrast to other authors, Horne is not a specialist on the slave trade. He is a prolific book writer on wide-ranging topics concerning race, politics, and African and African American studies. Among his recent monographs, he has written about U.S. policy in Zimbabwe, 1965-80 (2001), African Americans and the Mexican Revolution, 1910-20 (2005), radical black sailors in the United States and Jamaica (2005), racial politics in the Pacific during the Second World War (2005), and right-wing extremism in the United States (2006).

The content of The Deepest South reflects a historian moving into a new field of study: there is little discussion of historiography in the main text, and the reader does not learn whether other historians first mined the rich archival material that Horne examined. We do not read that scholars relate the "deepest south" to the Mississippi Delta, or that sociologist Rupert B. Vance coined that term in Human Geography of the South (1932). Horne takes the term further south to Brazil, the center of the slaving world in the 1820s-40s. Lacking a structured historiographical framework, however, makes The Deepest South an accessible book for a general audience uninterested in scholarly debates. They will read about how the United States was involved in the antebellum transatlantic slave trade and how many slave-owning southerners in the 1840s and 1850s envisioned a "deeper south" that included Spanish Cuba and a "deepest south" that incorporated Brazil. Alliances between slave-ownership classes would "ensure that slavery in the [western] hemisphere would triumph" (p. 14).



Gerald Horne. The Deepest South: The United States, Brazil, and the African Slave Trade. New York: New York University Press, 2007. v + 341 pp. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $75.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8147-3689-0; $24.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8147-3689-0.

Reviewed for H-Atlantic by Mariana Dantas, Department of History, Ohio University

Gerald Horne's latest book, The Deepest South, investigates the reciprocal influence which the United States and Brazil, the two main slave societies of the Americas, had on each other's commitment to the slave trade and slavery. His research has led him to a vast and varied body of sources, which includes accounts of travelers to Brazil, personal letters, published newspapers articles, and congressional debates. While he has ably built from these materials a compelling narrative of the involvement of U.S. nationals in the illegal commerce of African slaves, and of their experiences with and expectations of Brazil, perhaps the greatest contribution of this work is its hemispheric approach. As the author explains on the first page of the introduction, this book argues that U.S. slavery is better understood in hemispheric terms. Indeed, Horne successfully shows that certain events, developments, and ideas that were taking shape between the early and late nineteenth century throughout the Americas, particularly in Brazil, influenced debates over slavery and the fate of blacks in the United States before, during, and after the Civil War. Conversely, events, developments, and ideas taking shape in the United States at that same time, he argues, influenced Brazil's own dealings with the issue of slavery and the slave trade.



Kristin Mann. Slavery and the Birth of an African City: Lagos, 1760-1900. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007. xii + 473 pp. Tables, maps, notes, bibliography, index. $55.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-253-34884-5.

Reviewed for H-Atlantic by Ana Lucia Araujo, Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples, York University

The Emergence of a West African City
Few studies have focused on specific western African slave ports.Following the path of Robin Law's Ouidah: The Social History of a West African Slaving Port (2004), Kristin Mann's Slavery and the Birth of an African City analyzes the evolution of Lagos as a slave port during the transatlantic slave trade, an important Atlantic commercial center during the legitimate trade of palm oil, and as a prominent British colonial capital.

The book shows, on the one hand, how the rise of the slave trade in Lagos during the second half of the eighteenth century profoundly transformed the local society by expanding local slavery. On the other hand, it examines how the slave trade modified the way the elites controlled the local population. By examining the transition from the slave trade to the legitimate trade in palm oil, the author develops a meticulous study of the end of slavery and the slave trade in the region and the emergence of new labor organization. Chapter 1 retraces the Kingdom of Lagos's precolonial history. Combining oral traditions and demographic data, the chapter examines the development of the town as a slave port. The influx of Europeans (Portuguese, English, Dutch, and French) and the growth of the slave trade transformed Lagos into an international port connecting West Africa and the Atlantic world. Mann describes social and economic daily life as well as the context connecting (and sometimes opposing) the Kingdom of Lagos and the neighboring states and empires, such as Benin, Allada, and Oyo. She explains how in the mid-seventeenth century the development of the plantation system in the New World provoked the rise of slave exports and its intensification during the eighteenth century. The chapter also examines indigenous narratives of the kingdom's history. However, the connection between the intensification of the slave trade and the oral narratives are revealed only in the next chapter.