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

Walsh, Michael; Jordan, Don
Publisher:  New York University Press
Date Written:  31/01/2008
Year Published:  2008  
Pages:  320pp   Price:  $27.00   ISBN:  978-0814742969
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX20613

White Cargo is the story of the thousands of Britons who lived and died in bondage in Britain's American colonies.



Whiole the Spanish slaughtered in America for gold, the English in America had to plant for their wealth. Failing to find the expected mineral riches along the eastern seaboard, they turned to farming, hoping to make gold from tobacco. They needed a compliant, subservient, preferably free labour foce and since the indigenous peoples of America were difficult to enslave they turned to their own homeland to provide. They imported Britons deemed to be 'surplus' people - the rootless, the unemployed, the criminal and the dissident - and held them in the Americas in various forms of bondage for anything from three years to life.

This book tells the story of these victims of empoire. They were all suppoosed to gain their freedom eventually. For many, it didn't work out that way. In the early decades, half of them died in bondage. This book tracks the evolution of they system in which tens of thousands of whites were hheld as chattels, marketed like cattle, punished bruta;lly and in some cases literally worked to death. For decades, this underclass was treated just as savagely as black slaves and, indeed, toiled, suffered and rebelled alongside them. Eventually, a racial wedge was thrust between white and black, leaving blacks officially enslaved and whites apparently upgraded but in reality just as enslaved as they were before. According to contemporaries, some whites were treated with less humanity than the blacks working alongside them

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