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Slavery in the American Mountain South (Studies in Modern Capitalism) Hardcover – May 26, 2003
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"Dunaway's historical sociology has had an inestimable impact on scholars' understanding of the Appalachian South. Her new book is a major contribution to the reconceptualization of Appalachian and southern history and comparative slavery studies.... Essential." Choice
"Dunaway's historical sociology has had an inestimable impact on scholars understanding of the Appalachian South. Her new book is a major contribution to the reconceptualization of Appalachian and southern history and comparative slavery studies.... Essential." Choice
"Slavery in the American Mountain South is a useful contribution to Appalachian Studies. It breaks new ground in many ways, and it enriches the old ground it covers. The author's industry is impressive and her ambition to dominate the next generation of slavery studies in Appalachia is likely to be realize." Appalachian Journal
"It is clear that regional scholars will be reading and discussing Wilma Dunaway's work for yet another decade and probably beyond." Journal of Appalachian Studies
"...well written with extensive endnoes and detailed bibliographies...valuable for historians and students of southern history and African American history as well as the general reader." The Journal of Southern History, Dorothy A. Smith Akubue-Brice, Lynchburg College
Wilma Dunaway breaks new ground by focusing on slave experiences on small plantations in the Upper South. She argues that a region was not buffered from the political, economic, and social impacts of enslavement simply because it was characterized by low black population density and small slaveholdings. By drawing on a massive statistical data base derived from antebellum census manuscripts and county tax records of 215 counties in nine states, on a vast array slaveholder manuscripts, and on regional slave narratives, she pinpoints several indicators that distinguished Mountain South enslavement from the Lower South.
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Dunaway demolishes the myth that small scale slavery with slaves working alongside masters was better than plantation slavery and exposes the savage nature of the industrial slavery in mines, saltworks, canals, railroads, and foundries that many African Americans in the mountains suffered under. Appalachian slaves suffered worse conditions and certainly worse health and as much, if not more violence, than slaves elsewhere. Moreover, she explains how most free Blacks in mountain areas suffered under conditions little better than slavery and were constantly threatened with being thrown into effective slavery by being indentured to white masters by the courts.
At the same time Dunaway focuses on the resistence to slavery by African Americans, particularly in their development and continuation of a culture of resistance and their selection among African and American culture and their own inventions to defend themselves.
While Dunaway goes more extensively into family relations in other books, in this book she does not neglect the impact of slavery on the family and the special situations of women and children under the lash of Mountain masters.
One subject that this work explains that I have seen few others develop is the degree to which Native Americans were enslaved, especially in the colonial period and the large component of Native Americans in African American ancestry as well as the degree to which Native Americans were sold into slavery in the West Indies.
It is not just what we she covers, but the disciplined, well sourced, clearly reasoned, and thorough analysis that makes this book a necessary edition to anyone who is concerned with this aspect of history.