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Book Launch: The American Slave Coast

Tuesday, March 8th
4:30–6:30 pm
Room 9206

A book launch for The American Slave Coast by Ned and Constance Sublette, featuring David Waldstreicher (The Graduate Center, CUNY) and Kellie Carter Jackson (Hunter College, CUNY), moderated by Julie Skurski (The Graduate Center, CUNY).
Reception to follow.

One of the best history books ever written about the United States.—Counterpunch, Dec. 31, 2015

In The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry, Ned and Constance Sublette offer a radical re-interpretation of American history. It’s brutal and uncompromising, and, for better or worse, it’s how we should understand the country. —Pacific Standard, Jan. 26, 2016

The American Slave Coast coverThe American Slave Coast offers a provocative vision of US history from earliest colonial times through emancipation that presents even the most familiar events and figures in a revealing new light.Authors Ned and Constance Sublette tell the brutal story of how the slavery industry made the reproductive labor of the people it referred to as “breeding women” essential to the young country’s expansion. Captive African Americans in the slave nation were not only laborers, but merchandise and collateral all at once. In a land without silver, gold, or trustworthy paper money, their children and their children’s children into perpetuity were used as human savings accounts that functioned as the basis of money and credit in a market premised on the continual expansion of slavery. Slaveowners collected interest in the form of newborns, who had a cash value at birth and whose mothers had no legal right to say no to forced mating.  This gripping narrative is driven by the power struggle between the elites of Virginia, the slave-raising “mother of slavery,” and South Carolina, the massive importer of Africans—a conflict that was central to American politics from the making of the Constitution through the debacle of the Confederacy.

Virginia slaveowners won a major victory when Thomas Jefferson’s 1808 prohibition of the African slave trade protected the domestic slave markets for slave-breeding. The interstate slave trade exploded in Mississippi during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, drove the US expansion into Texas, and powered attempts to take over Cuba and other parts of Latin America, until a disaffected South Carolina spearheaded the drive to secession and war, forcing the Virginians to secede or lose their slave-breeding industry.Filled with surprising facts, fascinating incidents, and startling portraits of the people who made, endured, and resisted the slave-breeding industry, The American Slave Coast culminates in the revolutionary Emancipation Proclamation, which at last decommissioned the capitalized womb and armed the African Americans to fight for their freedom

Ned Sublette is the author of Cuba and Its Music, The World that Made New Orleans, and The Year Before the Flood. Constance Sublette has published, as Constance Ash, three novels and edited the anthology Not of Woman Born.

Kellie Carter Jackson is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Hunter College, CUNY. Her research focuses on slavery and abolition, violent political discourse, historical film, and black women’s history. Her book manuscript is titled, Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence. She is also co-editing, Reconsidering Roots: The Phenomenon that Changed the Way We Understood American Slavery (UGA Press). Her essays have been featured in The Atlantic, Quartz, Transition Magazine, The Conversation, Boston’s NPR Blog Cognoscenti, and the AAIHS (African American Intellectual History Society) blog. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

David Waldstreicher is a historian of early and nineteenth-century America, with interests spanning political history, cultural history, slavery and antislavery, and print culture. He comes to the Graduate Center from Temple University, where he was a professor of history and coeditor of the Journal of the Early Republic. He previously taught at Bennington College, Yale University, and the University of Notre Dame. Waldstreicher is author of Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification (2009); Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery and the American Revolution (2004); and In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820 (1997).

Book Launch: The American Slave Coast
Date: March 08, 2016
Time: 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Location: Room 9206/9207
Address: 365 Fifth Avenue, New York 10016 (View Map)