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APLANTINGAND TRADINGSOCIETY Allan Kulikoff.Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of SouthernCultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800. Chapel Hill,N.C.: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1986. xviii+ 449pp. DavidW. Galenson. Traders, Planters and Slaves: Market Behavior in Early English America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, I986. xiv + 230 pp. Marc Egnal Anemphasis on quantitative data and an interest in New World slavery link these two books. However, the two works are of strikingly different quality. Allan Kulikoff's study of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Chesapeake is an importantcontribution to early American social history, while David W. Galenson 's analysis of the Royal African Company's commerce in slaves is a narrowlyconceived work that adds little to our knowledge. Kulikoff's sprawling Tobacco and Slaves discusses the transformation of Maryland and Virginia society between about 1650 and the 1780s, and examines theimpact of these changes on both whites and blacks. According to Kulikoff, the Chesapeake in the mid-seventeenth century was a region marked by the "dominanceof small planters" (37), individuals whose farms were worked by family members and one or two white servants. However, between 1680 and 1740, this bucolic, egalitarian political economy faded, and was replaced by a society with striking extremes in wealth and a slave labor force. The region's seemingly endless need for workers prompted the turn to slaves, and the rising number of blackssoon dissuaded immigrant whites from electing the Chesapeake. A class of small farmers survived, with these yeomen now supplementing their family's labor by purchasing one or two slaves. But the dominant group politically and economically became the gentry, whose members often owned a dozen or more slaves and more than a thousand acres of land. Against that background (which is more carefully drawn for the eighteenth 266 Marc Egnal century, and less well-documented for the seventeenth), Kulikoff discusses the changing nature of white society. Here he underscores three themes. One is the emergence of patriarchy and the increasing subordination of women. In the seventeenth century, hard times brought a rough and ready equality to the fann, since women's labor was needed in the fields as well as in the home. However, as wealth increased attitudes changed, and women were forced into a subordinate, domestic sphere. A second development was the emergence of "kinship"-the increasing importance of the extended family. Finally, Kulikoff details the riseof the native-born gentry class. Kulikoff also analyzes the evolution of slave society, extending and reinforcing the work of historians such as Peter Wood and Gerald Mullin who have presented a dynamic picture of this institution in colonial America. While changes in black culture were gradual, the 1730s may be thought of as the line of division. Before that time, Chesapeake slaves typically were African-born, overwhelmingly male, lived on farms with rarely more than a handful of other blacks, and seldom hadthe support of an extended family. After the 1730s, most blacks were born in the New World, labored on plantations with at least ten other Afro-Americans, and raised their children within a well-defined family unit that often was part of a multiplantation network of relatives. The creation of slave quarters on the larger estates made possible the beginnings of a true Afro-American culture that included characteristic music, dance and religion. Two chapters, not closely related to these themes, map long- and short-run fluctuations in the economy between the 1660s and I770s. According to Kulikoff, the era from the 1680s to 1710 was one of depression; the period from 1710to 1750 a time of slow growth; and the years from 1750 to 1775 a time of prosperity. Kulikoff's arguments here are perhaps less solidly grounded than those in the sections on social history. The imputed prosperity between 1750 and 1775, for example, rests largely on a series for tidewater land prices, which, in fact, rose more because of population pressure than buoyant economic conditions. The great strength of Kulikoff's work, apart from its ambitious scope, rests in its extensive and creative use of a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional sources. For example, Kulikoff demonstrates the increased...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 265-267
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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