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River of Dark Dreams Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom

ISBN-10: 0674045556
ISBN-13: 9780674045552
Edition: 2013
Authors: Walter Johnson
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $27.95
Copyright year: 2013
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 2/22/2013
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 524
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 1.75" tall
Weight: 2.442
Language: English

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.

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

Introduction: Boom
Jeffersonian Visions and Nightmares in Louisiana
The Panic of 1835
The Steamboat Sublime
Limits to Capital
The Runaway's River
Dominion
"The Empire of the White Man's Will"
The Carceral Landscape
The Mississippi Valley in the Time of Cotton
Capital, Cotton, and Free Trade
Tales of Mississippian Empire
The Material Limits of "Manifest Destiny"
"The Grey-Eyed Man of Destiny"
The Ignominious Effort to Reopen the Slave Trade
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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