As with any enterprise involving violence and lots of money, running a plantation in early British America was a serious and brutal enterprise. Beyond resources and weapons, a plantation required a significant force of cruel and rapacious men-men who, as Trevor Burnard sees it, lacked any better options for making money. In the contentious Planters, Merchants, and Slaves, Burnard argues that white men did not choose to develop and maintain the plantation system out of virulent racism or sadism, but rather out of economic logic because-to speak bluntly-it worked. These economically successful and ethically monstrous plantations required racial divisions to exist, but their successes were always measured in gold, rather than skin or blood. Burnard argues that the best example of plantations functioning as intended is not those found in the fractious and poor North American colonies, but those in their booming and integrated commercial hub, Jamaica.
Sure to be controversial, this book is a major intervention in the scholarship on slavery, economic development, and political power in early British America, mounting a powerful and original argument that boldly challenges historical orthodoxy.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 360
Weight: 635 g
Dimensions: 231 x 155 x 28 mm
"Burnard gives us a commanding work of scholarly synthesis and layers it with original research to offer a provocative meditation on the meaning of plantation societies in the early modern Atlantic world. Planters, Merchants, and Slaves draws the Chesapeake, Carolina Lowcountry, and British Caribbean into a single interpretive frame and, by doing so, highlights British Plantation America's enormous dynamism and significance."--S. Max Edelson, author of Plantation Enterprise in Colonial South Carolina
"Planters, Merchants, and Slaves is a masterful synthesis of decades of scholarship on the development of plantation societies, integrating original research on the immense wealth created, the relationship of those societies
to nonplantation sectors, the extreme violence required to sustain them, and the reasons for their eventual collapse, despite their continuing profitability, from forces arising outside the system. Anyone interested in the significance of slavery and the plantation system for the rise of early modern capitalism; patterns of social, political, and economic development in slave societies; or the widespread violence required to sustain that system will find much to admire in this insightful contribution to Atlantic World history."--New West Indian Guide