- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Liveright; 1 edition (July 13, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0871406756
- ISBN-13: 978-0871406750
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dark Places of the Earth: The Voyage of the Slave Ship Antelope 1st Edition
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“In Bryant’s gripping telling, the moral contradictions of the time are laid bare…. Carefully researched, beautifully crafted, Dark Places―the title comes, ominously but evocatively, from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness―is one of the very few books that delivers on the promiscuous promise to employ an obscure episode to offer new insights on a well-trod byway of history.”
- David M. Shribman, Boston Globe
- David Reynolds, Wall Street Journal
“Bryant masterfully narrates the incredible machinations revolving around the eventual case, which would drag on for seven years, and take a considerable toll on the captives awaiting a decision…. Epic in scope, providing rich portraits of life at sea and trade in the Atlantic world, slavery and its hazards in the malaria-ridden South, and the tension between the ethical and financial interests of a slew of chummy Southern gentlemen adjudicating the case, Dark Places of the Earth is an invaluable contribution to the understanding of antebellum America.”
- Bobbi Booker, Philadelphia Tribune
“An eye-opening account of a little-known (yet horrifying) episode in American history…. In Dark Places of the Earth, Bryant has salvaged the history of an era when black lives mattered to slavers only as profit and the dead were thrown to the sharks.”
- Adam Rothman, Washington Independent Review of Books
“From its poetic title to its concluding sentence, Dark Places of the Earth spins a riveting yarn, using the vexed voyage of the slave ship Antelope to illuminate a profound moment in American history. Vividly drawn characters and courtroom drama make this narrative history of a high order.”
- Marcus Rediker, author of The Amistad Rebellion
“In this fascinating and engagingly written study, Jonathan M. Bryant illuminates a largely forgotten―but highly significant―episode in American legal history. Based on prodigious and meticulous research, Dark Places of the Earth will appeal to general readers and scholars alike. An important, original book.”
- Douglas R. Egerton, author of The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America's Most Progressive Era
“Jonathan Bryant sheds new and revealing light on a dark chapter in the history of American slavery, and on a Supreme Court decision that, despite its faults, deserves to be better known.”
- Brian McGinty, author of Lincoln's Greatest Case
“Bryant presents a broadened picture of the transatlantic slave trade while illuminating a legal battle with huge moral implications.”
- Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“A richly documented work that restores the Antelope to its central place in the long, grim history of the Atlantic slave trade.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“Detailed and fascinating account…. This is a superb examination of an obscure but important episode in the struggle against slavery.”
- Jay Freeman, Booklist, Starred review
“[Bryant] meticulously unwinds the years-long, complex legal history that finally led to the case being heard by the six justices of John Marshall's Supreme Court, four of whom were slave owners…. From the West African shores to Georgia, Washington, D.C., and, finally Liberia, Bryant's riveting history of this case and these slaves is a remarkable one.”
- Tom Lavoie, Shelf Awareness
About the Author
Jonathan M. Bryant is professor of history at Georgia Southern University. He specializes in slavery, emancipation, and constitutional law. He lives in Statesboro, Georgia.
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Top customer reviews
As the book title indicates, this is a dark tale, one that throws readers directly into the horrors of the slave trade and the institution of slavery as practiced during the early years of the republic. Author Bryant’s simple statistics of what remained of the Antelope’s starving and diseased human cargo when it finally arrived in Savannah, Georgia during the year 1820 give stark and concise testimony to the brutality of such transatlantic profit seeking voyages:
• Out of 331 people originally captured and put aboard the Antelope, only 258 remained alive – a 22% loss of life.
• 83% of the captives were under the age of 20.
• The average age of all the captives was 14.
• 106 were between the ages of 5 and 10.
• 8 were between the ages of 2 and 5. 2 and 5 (that is an intentional factual repeat)
For almost eight years after landing in the United States, the captives languished in servitude on Savannah plantations as if they had been bought and sold as slaves, which they were not. And after those eight years, most of those people who actually survived were legally enslaved and sent to Florida by Supreme Court rulings. Only a small group ended up being sent back to Africa where they faced severe hardships, disease and attack by the nearby native population.
Jonathan Bryant’s story of the multiple legal battles that caused the captives to wait nearly eight years is fascinating and so full of detail as to almost be overwhelming. But true to presenting the facts as he found them, the author offers readers these historical events in step-by-step fashion so as to leave no doubt about what happened. His 47 pages of notes at the end of the book speak to the incredible depth of his research.
One of the most telling scenes is when the Antelope case finally arrives at the Supreme Court of the United States in 1825, five years after the captives set foot in Georgia. The legendary John Marshall was Chief Justice and four of the justices were slave owners. The attorney for the supposed owners of the captives, Spanish and Portuguese citizens, was a slave owner as well. Enter the attorney for the government of United States trying to free the captives, Francis Scott Key. The same F.S. Key of the Star-Spangled Banner fame had slaves of his own. Slave ownership stood out on that day as a vivid yet unofficial finger pressing on the scales of justice.
This author’s work is beautifully organized, well written and thoroughly documented. It is an important scholarly work and should be read by those deeply interested in slavery, the slave trade, constitutional law, international law, and American politics during the first quarter of the 19th century.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
It is a history book and reads as such. I can just imagine the time and effort that went into collecting all this information and then getting it organized into readable form.
I did learn about the men of history for which many of the street in Savannah were named. These streets now talk me me as I ride through Savannah.
In how many dusty libraries (the dark places) did the author do his searches?
My conclusion - Politics and the legal system have not changed much in the last 175 years. They battle on while those they profess to help languish in the fields of depression and despair.
Ella Mae Rayner, Rayner Adventures