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New York University Press
White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America / Edition 1

White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America / Edition 1

by Don Jordan, Michael Walsh
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The forgotten story of the thousands of white Britons who lived and died in bondage in Britain’s American colonies

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, more than 300,000 white people were shipped to America as slaves. Urchins were swept up from London’s streets to labor in the tobacco fields, where life expectancy was no more than two years. Brothels were raided to provide “breeders” for Virginia. Hopeful migrants were duped into signing as indentured servants, unaware they would become personal property who could be bought, sold, and even gambled away. Transported convicts were paraded for sale like livestock.

Drawing on letters crying for help, diaries, and court and government archives, Don Jordan and Michael Walsh demonstrate that the brutalities usually associated with black slavery alone were perpetrated on whites throughout British rule. The trade ended with American independence, but the British still tried to sell convicts in their former colonies, which prompted one of the most audacious plots in Anglo-American history.

This is a saga of exploration and cruelty spanning 170 years that has been submerged under the overwhelming memory of black slavery. White Cargo brings the brutal, uncomfortable story to the surface.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814742969
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 03/08/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 108,892
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Don Jordan is an award-winning television director and writer who has worked on dozens of documentaries and dramas. He lives in London.

Michael Walsh spent twelve years as a reporter and presenter on World in Action and has won several awards for his work. He is now a producer and writer living in London, specializing in political and historical documentaries.

Table of Contents

Introduction: In the Shadow of Myth
Chapter One: A Place for the Unwanted
Chapter Two: The Judge's Dream
Chapter Three: The Merchant Prince
Chapter Four: Children of the City
Chapter Five: The Jagged Edge
Chapter Six: 'They Are Not Dogs'
Chapter Seven: The People Trade
Chapter Eight: Spirited Away
Chapter Nine: Foreigners in Their Own Land
Chapter Ten: Dissent in the North
Chapter Eleven: The Planter from Angola
Chapter Twelve: 'Barbadosed'
Chapter Thirteen: The Grandees
Chapter Fourteen: Bacon's Rebellion
Chapter Fifteen: Queen Anne's Golden Book
Chapter Sixteen: Disunity in the Union
Chapter Seventeen: Lost and Found
Chapter Eighteen: 'His Majesty Seven-Year Passengers'
Chapter Nineteen: The Last Hurrah
Select Bibliography

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“This vividly written book tells the tale from both sides of the Atlantic . . . meticulously sourced and footnoted—but is never dry or academic...Jordan and Walsh offer an explanation of how the structures of slavery—black or white—were entwined in the roots of American society. They refrain from drawing links to today, except to remind readers that there are probably tens of millions of Americans who are descended from white slaves without even knowing it.”

-New York Times Book Review,

“High school American history classes present indentured servitude as a benignly paternalistic system whereby colonial immigrants spent a few years working off their passage and went on to better things. Not so, this impassioned history argues: the indentured servitude of whites was comparable in most respects to the slavery endured by blacks. Given the hideous mortality rates, the authors argue, indentured contracts often amounted to a life sentence at hard labor—some convicts asked to be hanged rather than be sent to Virginia . . . their exposé of unfree labor in the British colonies paints an arresting portrait of early America as gulag. 8 pages of photos.”

-Publishers Weekly,

“With information gleaned from contemporary letters, journals and court archives, White Cargo is packed with proof that he brutalities usually associated with black slavery were, for centuries, also inflicted on whites.”

-Daily Mail,

“An eye-opening and heart-rending story.”

-The Times (London),

"A colorful series of portraits of villains and victims, exploiters and exploited, rendered with bemused outrage."-Choice

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White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Onyx_Prince More than 1 year ago
I am disappointment that this book hasn't gotten a better rating. Personally I thought that book gave a great insight on the other side of the slave trade during that time which was backed by archives and facts. I think that everyone should take the time to read this book and research this subject.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm disappointed I can't get this as an ebook.
TLCrawford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Until I started reading [White Cargo] by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh I thought I knew a little something about American history. I didn¿t. Between Jamestown and the Declaration of Independence, American style slavery was developed to supply the labor needed to work the new land. First street children, then convicts and undesirables like the Irish were being gathered and shipped to America. Some volunteered to work off the price of their passage for the opportunity they were told awaited them in the colonies. All found themselves in a slave trade that was so profitable that soon people were being kidnapped off the streets to fill the demand for labor in the New World. The authors make a good case for their argument that `indentured service¿ is just another name for slavery. As they point out, African servants were originally treated no differently from English servants. The story of Anthony Johnson, an African who worked out his indenture and went on to build his own plantation and own his own servants, both black and white, is illuminating to say the least. The book gave the best picture I have yet seen on the development of the institution of slavery and racial intolerance in America that I have seen. The book is well researched and documented, their extensive bibliography offers a bounty for anyone wanting to do further investigation. Each chapter is well organized around specific aspects of the selling of other peoples labor and has the narrative flow of a novel while not venturing into speculation. The use of the phrase `played the race card¿ struck me as anachronistic but the actions they describe planters taking after Bacon¿s Rebellion certainly seem to fit our understanding of the term.I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the history of the United States and the people that built it and I am looking forward to Jordan and Walsh¿s next effort.
SwitchKnitter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For most of the 1600's, the bulk of American slaves were white "indentured servants." Many of them came to the colonies involuntarily. While their servitude wasn't for a lifetime like black slaves' was, many many people died before they earned their freedom. For example: of the 300 children kidnapped and brought to America between 1619 and 1622, only 12 were alive in 1624. It was vicious. This book is about those people and what happened to them. the authors offer tales from diaries and personal accounts as well as evidence from legal records and publications. It was an interesting book. I liked it, depressing though it was.
elimatta on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's good to see another addition to the few books on the transportation of convicts to North America. But like its predecessors, this book pretty much ignores the law. It describes all white forced servants as being slaves. In doing so, it somehow assumes that the law was a sham.In law, there was a great gulf between indentured labourers and convicts. The latter were transported as a condition of their pardons from death sentences. As a consequence, they remained attainted until their sentences were served. Attainted persons were unable to hold property, sue in the courts or give evidence. That became a matter of great significance in New South Wales, which succeeded North America as the convict dumping ground.In analysing indentured and convict workers as slaves, the authors blur the legal difference between them. Wittingly or otherwise, they adopt the essentially Marxist analysis of law which ended among legal historians with the publication of EP Thompson's Whigs and Hunters (1978). Until then, Marxists assumed that the law was merely a ruling class plot and that its pretensions to the rule of law were merely a mask for class preference. Famously, Thompson claimed at the end of his book that the rule of law was, without qualification, a Good Thing. At the least, it was to be taken seriously.So for an old legal historian like me, this new book is a curious historical relic, a throwback to the age of the 60s and 70s.Isn't it time for a North American legal historian to take the law of convicts seriously? 50000 convicts were transported to North America. In practice they may well have been treated as slaves. How did that practice meld with the law? What did the courts say when the sales of convict labour were tested, or when convicts tried to give evidence?3 out of 5 because it tells an important story in a compelling fashion. But, my, the analysis is weak.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book that tells about a side of slavery that most ignore