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Reviewed by:
  • The Deepest South: The United States, Brazil, and the African Slave Trade
  • Willie J. Harrell Jr.
Gerald Horne. The Deepest South: The United States, Brazil, and the African Slave Trade. New York: New York UP, 2007. 352 pp. $75.00 cloth/$24.00 paper.

During the transatlantic slave trade, Africans were forced from many regions of their homeland including the West Coast, Cape Vert and the Cape of Good Hope, as far away as the oriental coast of Mozambique and some interior regions as far as present-day Niger. Scholars approximate that ten million Africans were transported from the continent. It has been estimated that 3.6 million Africans were shipped to Brazil, making the South American country "the heavyweight champion of slavery" after the Civil War. During slavery in North America, a close association was stimulated between "U. S. nationals" and Brazil. This confluence between the two countries in connection with the transatlantic slave trade is explored in Gerald Horne's latest book. Contrary to what readers may gather from its title, The Deepest South: The United States, Brazil, and the African Slave Trade is "not a book about slavery in Brazil" (1; original emphasis). The focus of this magnificently well researched historical investigation, Horne reveals, lies in the United States' involvement as "slave traders and sojourners in Brazil." Because of its location some 5,000 miles south of the Mason Dixon Line, Horne contextualizes Brazil as "the Deepest South." The Deepest South, then, comprehensively argues that slavery in North America is best understood "in hemispheric terms"; in the 1830s, proslavery advocates in America sought coalition—sometimes congenial, often controversial—with Portuguese, Spanish, British, and other slave traders abroad to buy, sell, and transport African slaves in order to suppress pressure from the North and London to end their "odious commerce," which would, if the need arose, give them an advantage in the American Civil War. Subsequently, when the South seceded from the Union, Brazil provided significant support because slavers there believed that if the Confederacy was defeated, it would be a mortal blow to slavery in Brazil.

The historical context of The Deepest South invites wide readership as it undoubtedly serves as a crucial text for every aspect of U. S. and Brazilian historical studies. A work of extraordinary scholarship conducted on five continents, the organization of The Deepest South permits readers to follow its thesis, for example, into the continuing rivalry between London and Washington that had exploded in the war in 1812 and then festered as the United Kingdom abolished slavery in its empire in the 1830s. Opening with a discussion on the contours of the African slave trade, The Deepest South progresses skillfully through the hemispheric and global trends of America's involvement in Brazilian slavery: the early Republic's interests in developing an empire in Brazil; Americans' burgeoning interest in Africa and the effect that interest had on transforming Brazil; the activities of Henry A. Wise, chief U. S. diplomat in Brazil in the 1840s and governor of Virginia from 1856-60; the graphic images of Brazil transmitted by U. S. sojourners; the involvement of Matthew Fontaine Maury, an eminent Virginian whose scheme was "to transfer enslaved Africans in the U. S. from the South to Brazil"; the legalities involved in legitimizing slavery; the commencement of the Civil War in connection with the African slave trade; the deportation of U. S. Negroes to the "Valley of the Amazon" in an effort to create an opportune confluence between the two nations; the rebels of the post-Civil War South who fled America seeking refuge in Brazil's slave economy to continue their "odious commerce"; and in due course, the "travails of émigrés from the former Slave South in Brazil" (222). The epilogue concludes with an exuberant discussion on those sojourners who chose to settle in Brazil and "shape their new homeland" and with a discussion on the abolition of Brazilian slavery in 1888, twenty-three years after the nefarious design fell in the United States. [End Page 183]

Undoubtedly, the most enlightening discussions in The Deepest South hinge upon two influential Americans who played major roles in the confluence between the United...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-6182
Print ISSN
1062-4783
Pages
pp. 183-184
Launched on MUSE
2010-09-14
Open Access
No
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