Planters, Merchants, And Slaves: Plantation Societies In British America, 1650-1820

Hardcover | October 27, 2015

byTrevor Burnard

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As with any enterprise involving violence and lots of money, running a plantation in early British America was a serious and brutal enterprise. Beyond resources and weapons, a plantation required a significant force of cruel and rapacious men—men who, as Trevor Burnard sees it, lacked any better options for making money. In the contentious Planters, Merchants, and Slaves, Burnard argues that white men did not choose to develop and maintain the plantation system out of virulent racism or sadism, but rather out of economic logic because—to speak bluntly—it worked.

These economically successful and ethically monstrous plantations required racial divisions to exist, but their successes were always measured in gold, rather than skin or blood. Burnard argues that the best example of plantations functioning as intended is not those found in the fractious and poor North American colonies, but those in their booming and integrated commercial hub, Jamaica. Sure to be controversial, this book is a major intervention in the scholarship on slavery, economic development, and political power in early British America, mounting a powerful and original argument that boldly challenges historical orthodoxy.

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As with any enterprise involving violence and lots of money, running a plantation in early British America was a serious and brutal enterprise. Beyond resources and weapons, a plantation required a significant force of cruel and rapacious men—men who, as Trevor Burnard sees it, lacked any better options for making money. In the content...

Trevor Burnard is professor in and head of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. He is the author of Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire and Creole Gentlemen, as well as coeditor of The Routledge History of Slavery.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:360 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:October 27, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022628610X

ISBN - 13:9780226286105

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Plantation Worlds

1          The Rise of the Large Integrated Plantation
2          Violence, White Solidarity, and the Rise of Planter Elites
3          The Wealth of the Plantations
4          “A Prodigious Mine”: Jamaica
5          The American Revolution and Plantation America

Epilogue: Slaves and Planters

Appendix: An Essay on Sources

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“This is a book that exhilarates. It is also one that will vex many readers. The exhilaration stems from Trevor Burnard’s geographical reach and conceptual ambition. This is a bold, bravura performance that ranges from the Chesapeake to Demerara. . . . A short review cannot do justice to all the themes of this arresting and provocative work. Readers will find much to applaud and much to take issue with. No one will feel their time has been wasted,”