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An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821--1865 Paperback – August 1, 1991
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From Library Journal
- Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Texans revolted against Mexican rule in order to protect slavery."
Both of these inflammatory simplifications were advanced by contemporary writers in Spanish and English, according to Randolph Campbell, the author of this excellent state history. Campbell is never guilty of oversimplification, though he is to be commended for keeping his scholarly language simple enough for non-professional historians.
It's true, as Campbell demonstrates amply, that Mexico vacillated in extending its abolition of slavery to include Texas. Mexico had freed its small population of slaves immediately after independence, but in the 1820s, when Americans began to move into Texas with slaves, Mexico's oft-changing governments were both unable and unwilling to take effective action. But did Mexico lose Texas, or did the American Texans ever truly intend any loyalty to Mexico? Campbell is careful to give thoughtful consideration to both hypotheses.
Certainly Mexico's too-late attempts to restrict American immigration, with or without slaves, and to impose effective customs and duties were the immediate precipitants of the Texan rebellion. But Campbell makes it very clear that the slave-holding leaders of the Anglo-Texans regarded the security of their slave ownership as the highest priority in their relationships with Mexico. Once Texas gained its independence, the passage of a constitution that established slavery as a permanent and privileged institution, and the immediate efforts to recruit slave-owning settlers from the American South, clearly expose the underlying motivations of their betrayal of their hosts.Read more ›
This work goes into detail about the lives and dealings (literally) of slaves. Several anecdotal instances are given for just about every aspect of slave life. Texas slavery also reflects the slavery practices of other southern US states, so this is handy to have for a study of American slavery in general.
Professor Campbell's book is indeed steeped in historical scholarship, but it is nevertheless pleasant to read and easily understood. I highly recommend this book for students(or those interested in) Texas history, the American Antebellum South, or slavery in 19th century America.
I am not a a native Texan and although I lived year for a couple years during elementary school I never took Texas history. For me, the first few chapters of the book were an excellent primer on Texas's founding, independence as Republic, path to statehood, and decision to secede...the first few chapters were also a revelation for on every page and in every step from founding to secession the founders of Texas made clear how important slavery would be to its settlement and future growth and did everything possible to insure the "Peculiar Institution's" survival. The workings of the Mexican government and legislature in the 1830s and 40s was very interesting, indeed.
The sections on the lives of slaves - the breakup of families, religion, music, work conditions, etc. - was taken from slave narratives as much as possible. I would have liked to have seen much more material on the medical care of Texas slaves, a subject which merits only a page or so in this book, but that is due to my own special interests and not an obligation on the author. There is little comparison between the lives of slaves in Texas and other slave states, but the author maintains that is because there was little difference, and - in a statement that made a great impression on me - he declares that it matters little whether slavery was better or worse in Texas than elsewhere...the argument is "morally pointless": "the moral nature of a system that held human as property would remain the same" whether conditions were "better" or "worse" in Texas.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent single volume coverage of the history of slavery in Texas. Campbell is an excellent research and gifted writer.Published 6 months ago by Harriett Joseph
Randolph B. Campbell's "An Empire for Slavery" is a book that seeks that inform the reader that slavery existed in Texas and was important. Read morePublished on October 9, 2007 by Matthew Browne