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BOOK REVIEWS263 society, as Rabinowitz argues, and reveals how difficult it is to preserve freedom and equal opportunity in a nation of "partial-identifiers." Rabinowitz, a self-proclaimed "partial identifier" himself, does show that this perspective can make for excellent history. This Northern white offers important insights into both Southern and African American history. These essays deserve what, in his introduction, Rabinowitz calls his highest compliment: they display "common sense based on a tiiorough reading ofdie sources" (15). Gaines M. Foster Louisiana State University The Economy andMaterial Culture ofSlaves: Goods and Chattels on the Sugar Plantations of Jamaica and Louisiana. By Roderick A. McDonald. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993. Pp. xiv, 339. $39.95.) In his intriguingstudy ofdie "slaves' economy" inJamaicaandLouisianaduring those two societies' most mature stages of economic development—Jamaica, 1780-1820, and Louisiana, 1820-1860—Roderick A. McDonald argues diat slaves on sugar plantations engaged in extensive and integrated economic networks diat tiiey themselves created and largely controlled. This "internal economy," moreover, undergirded an autonomous slave culture diat thrived beyond slaveholders' purview. Despite tiieir enslavement—which was exacerbated by die grinding routine of sugar production—slaves in Jamaica and Louisiana exercised considerable self-determination. While attending to die geographical and environmental factors mat distinguished sugar production and plantation routine in Jamaica and Louisiana, McDonald documents an array of activities mat enterprising slaves on sugar plantations conducted on their own time. Slaves raised animals, grew crops in their gardens or on provision grounds, and manufactured items, among other tasks. They bartered or sold diese commodities in nearby towns during "market days" or sold them directly to die plantation. Slaves were also paid cash or received credit for performing routine plantation chores on tiieir own time. One Louisiana sugar planter, for instance, paid his slaves on average three hundred dollars annually between 1848 and 1861 for die Spanish moss they collected. Slaves in botii societies were also consumers. They purchased necessities— household utensils, clothing, blankets, or foodstuffs—to supplement their paltry provisions; and they purchased such "luxury" items as meat, flour, shoes, tobacco, fancy clothing, watches, and jewelry. Indeed, slaves enjoyed surprisingly wide discretion in spending the sums they earned, and they exhibited "proprietary" rights to tiieir houses, gardens, and goods. Although important differences marked die internal economies of Jamaica and Louisiana, die networks ofproduction, exchange, and consumption diat obtained in botii regions provided die material basis for a distinctive and autonomous African American culture. 264CIVIL WAR HISTORY While McDonald masterfully reconstructs the slaves' economy, the implications of his argument are somewhat unsettling. Because the internal economy empowered slaves, McDonald impUes, it was subversive of the slave regime. Yet McDonald's own evidence shows that slaveholders not only tolerated but indeed encouraged and superintended slaves' economic activity. Moreover, no matter how extensive the slaves' economy, or how much independence die slaves derived from it, the fact remains that in neither Jamaica nor the American South was slavery ever seriously threatened from within. To be sure, slaves struggled heroically to create meaningful Uves while Uving under unspeakable oppression. Yet this struggle never amounted to a chaUenge to tiieir enslavement . Rather than imperiling the slave regime, the internal economy helped to sustain it, and instead of spawning an "autonomous" slave culture, the internal economy bespoke a more complex master-slave relationship than historians have previously aUowed for. Despite its interpretive bent, with which one may quibble, McDonald's study addresses so many important issues—such as the internal dynamics ofthe slave family and household, distinctions within the slave community to which the internal economy gave rise, and the dialectic of slave resistance and accommodation —that it warrants a close reading from scholars ofNew World slavery. John C. Rodrigue University ofMaryland Pulling the Temple Down: The Fire-Eaters and the Destruction of the Union. By David S. Heidler. (Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1994. Pp. x, 262. $22.95.) Pulling the Temple Down provides a chronologicaUy organized synthesis of Southern secessionism that puts the Old South's "fire-eaters"—its most fanatic disunionists—at center stage. Whereas John McCardell (Idea of a Southern Nation [1979]) approached the radicals thematically and Eric H. Walther (The Fire-Eaters [1992]) served up chapter-length biographies...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 263-264
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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