CARRY ME BACK: The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life

Steven Deyle, Author . Oxford Univ. $29.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-19-516040-6

Historian Deyle reveals the malignant heart of that most "peculiar institution," American slavery. Deyle's focus is the domestic buying and selling of human beings after the abolition of the international slave trade in 1808; the economics and unique practices of that macabre local marketplace; and the varied individuals who engaged in and profited from the trade. As Deyle, assistant professor of history at the University of California, Davis, points out, the vast majority of Southerners who bought and sold slaves were not professional dealers, but rather owners who traded slaves only when necessary: when they found themselves with either a short supply or a surplus of labor power. Deyle spells out how the cold, sterile economics of slavery led to the arbitrary separation of children from parents, wives from husbands. Deyle also makes clear the enormous profit to be had, especially in the market for healthy adolescent boys with years of hard labor ahead of them. Babies born to slave parents, fed a meager diet for 12 or 13 years, multiplied a minimal investment by hundreds. Most ironically, Deyle notes, the vast majority of slave traders were "good" people, devout Christians, respected citizens. In his first book, Deyle ably situates the important role of the domestic slave trade within the economy of the new and rapidly growing United States. B&w illus. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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