River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom

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9780674045552: River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom

When Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Territory, he envisioned an “empire for liberty” populated by self-sufficient white farmers. Cleared of Native Americans and the remnants of European empires by Andrew Jackson, the Mississippi Valley was transformed instead into a booming capitalist economy commanded by wealthy planters, powered by steam engines, and dependent on the coerced labor of slaves. River of Dark Dreams places the Cotton Kingdom at the center of worldwide webs of exchange and exploitation that extended across oceans and drove an insatiable hunger for new lands. This bold reaccounting dramatically alters our understanding of American slavery and its role in U.S. expansionism, global capitalism, and the upcoming Civil War.



Walter Johnson deftly traces the connections between the planters’ pro-slavery ideology, Atlantic commodity markets, and Southern schemes for global ascendency. Using slave narratives, popular literature, legal records, and personal correspondence, he recreates the harrowing details of daily life under cotton’s dark dominion. We meet the confidence men and gamblers who made the Valley shimmer with promise, the slave dealers, steamboat captains, and merchants who supplied the markets, the planters who wrung their civilization out of the minds and bodies of their human property, and the true believers who threatened the Union by trying to expand the Cotton Kingdom on a global scale.



But at the center of the story Johnson tells are the enslaved people who pulled down the forests, planted the fields, picked the cotton—who labored, suffered, and resisted on the dark underside of the American dream.

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About the Author:

Walter Johnson is Winthrop Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

Review:

With deep insights, original readings, expansive vision, and dramatic narratives, Walter Johnson reconfigures both the political economy of American slavery and the landscape of struggle in the slave South. (Steven Hahn, author of A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration)

Walter Johnson's River of Dark Dreams is a unique, brilliant, and relentless critique of the sordid logic of American slavery as it unfolded on cotton plantations, aboard steamboats plying the Mississippi, and in toxic proslavery adventures that spilled across the country's borders. The next generation of debates over slavery in the United States must wrestle with Johnson's startling and profound insights. (Adam Rothman, author of Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South)

River of Dark Dreams solidifies Walter Johnson's standing as a brilliantly gifted interpreter of the past, whose work sets the benchmark for a powerfully lucid--sometimes heart-wrenching--vision of what enslavement meant for slaveowners, for the women and men they enslaved, and for the nations that participated in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. (Jennifer L. Morgan, author of Laboring Women: Gender and Reproduction in New World Slavery)

Mining journals, correspondence, public records and popular literature, Johnson reminds us that New Orleans, not Richmond, was the engine of Southern prosperity: its largest city, largest slave market and the center of a booming international trading system...Mixed with fascinating anecdotes, grim accounts of slave life and a convincing argument for plantation slavery's essential role in the 19th century's burgeoning industrial capitalism. (Kirkus Reviews 2012-12-15)

River of Dark Dreams is an important, arguably seminal, book...It is always trenchant and learned. And in highly compelling fashion, it helps us more fully appreciate how thoroughly the slaveholding South was part of the capitalist transatlantic world of the first half of the 19th century. (Mark M. Smith Wall Street Journal 2013-02-22)

Johnson has written a book as big and bold as the Mississippi River valley region it surveys. In it, he maps the various interlocking connections among slavery, land surveys and speculation, steamboats, capital and credit, cotton planting, and more to show how President Jefferson's promise of an 'empire for liberty' to come from the Louisiana Purchase became instead a place of people grasping for advantage, gouging for wealth, and gaining through will and brutality. Readers will find Johnson's discussions of steamboat technology, adaptations of new strains of cotton, and credit and market arrangements especially compelling as he makes the case for a modernizing, slave-based cotton empire that sought to extend its reach across the continent and, through violence, to claim Central America and Cuba as well...An essential book for understanding the dynamism and direction of American economic ambitions and the human and environmental costs of the physical, political, and social energy that drove such ambitions and ended in civil war. (Randall M. Miller Library Journal (starred review) 2013-03-15)

[Johnson] firmly believes that the booms of the early 1830s, followed by the devastating collapse of cotton prices and fortunes in 1837 and then the same cycle again in the 1850s, culminated in the Civil War. For those who have the penetration to see it, the cycles were written on the land, the technology, the crafty new financial instruments, and the bodies of the enslaved. Johnson never misses a chance to remind us of the relevance of all this today: the deregulation, speculation, profit, bubble, bust, misery, and war...Johnson's book attempts something daring and bold. Instead of perpetuating the regularly compartmentalized treatment of American slavery and the global antebellum political economy, he follows the example of Eric Williams's Capitalism and Slavery (1944) by bringing both together. He does this with an eye toward the enslaved on the ground, observing what they ate and produced, how they lived, how they were brutalized and died. Johnson is brilliantly attuned to the stories of the enslaved whose lives were coexistent with the cycle of production, who planted and harvested cotton but were at the same time commodities themselves, whose every biological function (reproduction, waste elimination) was an economic calculation. (Lawrence P. Jackson Los Angeles Review of Books 2013-05-30)

Johnson paints a picture of slavery in the Mississippi Valley as rich in twists and surprises as the Mississippi itself...A seminal study. (D. Butts Choice 2013-07-01)

"River of Dark Dreams is at its best when it focuses on the day-to-day lives of slaves in
the valley. Johnson empathizes with his subjects, allows them to speak for themselves
through written records they left behind, and is a gifted enough writer to make the past
come alive in his prose...Few books have captured the lived experience of slavery
as powerfully as River of Dark Dreams."
(Ari Kelman Times Literary Supplement 2013-07-26)

This most impressive piece of history writing will be a source of inspiration and debate for many years to come. It demonstrates the national significance of regional history and the transnational scope of 'slave holding agro-capitalism.' It has an overarching story to tell and argument to make, but many of its meaty chapters take a vital area of research and decisively reorder it.
(Robin Blackburn Dissent 2013-07-01)

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Buchbeschreibung HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2013. Hardback. Buchzustand: New. New. Language: English . Brand New Book. When Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Territory, he envisioned an empire for liberty populated by self-sufficient white farmers. Cleared of Native Americans and the remnants of European empires by Andrew Jackson, the Mississippi Valley was transformed instead into a booming capitalist economy commanded by wealthy planters, powered by steam engines, and dependent on the coerced labor of slaves. River of Dark Dreams places the Cotton Kingdom at the center of worldwide webs of exchange and exploitation that extended across oceans and drove an insatiable hunger for new lands. This bold reaccounting dramatically alters our understanding of American slavery and its role in U.S. expansionism, global capitalism, and the upcoming Civil War. Walter Johnson deftly traces the connections between the planters pro-slavery ideology, Atlantic commodity markets, and Southern schemes for global ascendency. Using slave narratives, popular literature, legal records, and personal correspondence, he recreates the harrowing details of daily life under cotton s dark dominion. We meet the confidence men and gamblers who made the Valley shimmer with promise, the slave dealers, steamboat captains, and merchants who supplied the markets, the planters who wrung their civilization out of the minds and bodies of their human property, and the true believers who threatened the Union by trying to expand the Cotton Kingdom on a global scale. But at the center of the story Johnson tells are the enslaved people who pulled down the forests, planted the fields, picked the cotton--who labored, suffered, and resisted on the dark underside of the American dream. Buchnummer des Verkäufers AAS9780674045552

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Buchbeschreibung HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2013. Hardback. Buchzustand: New. New. Language: English . Brand New Book. When Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Territory, he envisioned an empire for liberty populated by self-sufficient white farmers. Cleared of Native Americans and the remnants of European empires by Andrew Jackson, the Mississippi Valley was transformed instead into a booming capitalist economy commanded by wealthy planters, powered by steam engines, and dependent on the coerced labor of slaves. River of Dark Dreams places the Cotton Kingdom at the center of worldwide webs of exchange and exploitation that extended across oceans and drove an insatiable hunger for new lands. This bold reaccounting dramatically alters our understanding of American slavery and its role in U.S. expansionism, global capitalism, and the upcoming Civil War. Walter Johnson deftly traces the connections between the planters pro-slavery ideology, Atlantic commodity markets, and Southern schemes for global ascendency. Using slave narratives, popular literature, legal records, and personal correspondence, he recreates the harrowing details of daily life under cotton s dark dominion. We meet the confidence men and gamblers who made the Valley shimmer with promise, the slave dealers, steamboat captains, and merchants who supplied the markets, the planters who wrung their civilization out of the minds and bodies of their human property, and the true believers who threatened the Union by trying to expand the Cotton Kingdom on a global scale. But at the center of the story Johnson tells are the enslaved people who pulled down the forests, planted the fields, picked the cotton--who labored, suffered, and resisted on the dark underside of the American dream. Buchnummer des Verkäufers AAS9780674045552

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Buchbeschreibung HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2013. Hardback. Buchzustand: New. New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. When Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Territory, he envisioned an empire for liberty populated by self-sufficient white farmers. Cleared of Native Americans and the remnants of European empires by Andrew Jackson, the Mississippi Valley was transformed instead into a booming capitalist economy commanded by wealthy planters, powered by steam engines, and dependent on the coerced labor of slaves. River of Dark Dreams places the Cotton Kingdom at the center of worldwide webs of exchange and exploitation that extended across oceans and drove an insatiable hunger for new lands. This bold reaccounting dramatically alters our understanding of American slavery and its role in U.S. expansionism, global capitalism, and the upcoming Civil War. Walter Johnson deftly traces the connections between the planters pro-slavery ideology, Atlantic commodity markets, and Southern schemes for global ascendency. Using slave narratives, popular literature, legal records, and personal correspondence, he recreates the harrowing details of daily life under cotton s dark dominion. We meet the confidence men and gamblers who made the Valley shimmer with promise, the slave dealers, steamboat captains, and merchants who supplied the markets, the planters who wrung their civilization out of the minds and bodies of their human property, and the true believers who threatened the Union by trying to expand the Cotton Kingdom on a global scale. But at the center of the story Johnson tells are the enslaved people who pulled down the forests, planted the fields, picked the cotton--who labored, suffered, and resisted on the dark underside of the American dream. Buchnummer des Verkäufers BTE9780674045552

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Buchbeschreibung Belknap Press, 2013. Buchzustand: New. 2013. First Edition. Hardcover. River of Dark Dreams places the Cotton Kingdom at the center of worldwide webs of exchange and exploitation that extended across oceans and drove an insatiable hunger for new lands. This bold reaccounting dramatically alters our understanding of American slavery and its role in U.S. expansionism, global capitalism, and the upcoming Civil War. Num Pages: 560 pages, 27 halftones, 2 tables. BIC Classification: 1KBB; 3JH; HBJK; HBLL; HBTQ; HBTS. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 241 x 165 x 39. Weight in Grams: 980. . . . . . . Buchnummer des Verkäufers V9780674045552

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