In the New World, the buying and selling of slaves and of the commodities that they produced generated immense wealth, which reshaped existing societies and helped build new ones. From small beginnings, slavery in North America expanded until it furnished the foundation for two extraordinarily rich and powerful slave societies, the United States of America and then the Confederate States of America. The expansion and concentration of slavery into what became the Confederacy in 1861 was arguably the most momentous development after nationhood itself in the early history of the American republic. This book examines a relatively small part of slavery's North American domain, the lower Chattahoochee river Valley between Alabama and Georgia. Although geographically at the heart of Dixie, the valley was among the youngest parts of the Old South; only thirty-seven years separate the founding of Columbus, Georgia, and the collapse of the Confederacy. In those years, the area was overrun by a slave society characterized by astonishing demographic, territorial, and economic expansion. Valley counties of Georgia and Alabama became places where everything had its price, and where property rights in enslaved persons formed the basis of economic activity. Sold Down the River examines a microcosm of slavery as it was experienced in an archetypical southern locale through its effect on individual people, as much as can be determined from primary sources. Published in cooperation with the Historic Chattahoochee Commission and the Troup County Historical Society.
Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
Number of pages: 280
Weight: 615 g
Dimensions: 235 x 184 x 28 mm
"Impressively researched, well written, and thoughtfully organized, this book was a genuine pleasure to read. Professor Carey brings to the table a history of slavery that has been powerfully informed by a lively new scholarship."--Susan Eva O'Donovan, author of Becoming Free in the Cotton South
"Over the last generation of scholarship, many of the best works on slavery have been those that address big questions in smaller places/regions. At the level of region, county, or locality, the everyday experience of slavery and its evolution over time comes into focus. Carey (Appalachian State Univ.) achieves that masterfully in this informative volume about a relatively 'young' region of the antebellum South in a particular area bordering the southern half of Alabama and Georgia. One of his major contributions is to focus on the role of slavery among the Creeks, before the region became a white man's country, and how 'commitments to markets and accumulation of private property had historically been accompanied by the progression of slavery.' The author throughout emphasizes that 'slavery was a species of entrepreneurship' and that 'Valley whites found nothing disreputable about treating slaves as things.' A separate chapter on religion in the region emphasizes the degree of biracial worship and relies heavily on Baptist church records to fill out a richly detailed look at antebellum church life. The unvarnished look at the 'markets in flesh' also will stick with readers. Summing Up