SLAVE COUNTRY: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South

Adam Rothman, Author
Adam Rothman, Author . Harvard Univ. $35 (312p) ISBN 978-0-674-01674-3
Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-674-02416-8
Ebook - 311 pages - 978-0-674-04291-9
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Rarely is an author's first book so mature in its balance and authority. Rothman sets out to explain "why slavery expanded" under the leadership of members of the revolutionary generation and their successors, and why it expanded especially into the Deep South of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, lands that were part of the Louisiana Purchase. The settlement of the lands southwest of the original coastal Southern states by slave-owning planters set the stage for the Civil War. The speed and form of settlement of those territories as their economy became based on cotton and, to a lesser extent, sugar cultivation were inconceivable without the use of slaves. If Rothman's broadly researched work doesn't offer any fresh interpretations of the peculiar institution, he chooses his illustrative stories with great skill and has mastered the existing literature. The realities of slavery appear in all their vividness, as does the distinctiveness of the white cultures of the region, especially Louisiana's. One comes away from this readable, energetic work by Rothman, an assistant professor of history at Georgetown, appreciating how much the nation's vaunted past—its military successes, its democratic growth, its economic might—owes to the enslavement of people out of Africa. 2 b&w photos, 2 maps. (Apr.)

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