At Home Among the Dead: North Americans and the 1825 Guamacaro Slave Insurrection
Abstract

This article considers the role of American citizens from the U.S. North in the 1825 Guamacaro Cuban slave insurrection. North American participation in the ‘agro-industrial graveyard’ of the Cuban slave regime both reinforces and complicates scholars’ recognition of slavery as a national, rather than sectional, bedrock of U.S. state-formation. When convenient or profitable, the character of U.S. slavery was also trans-national. This little-known slave revolt, in which hundreds of Africans burned sugar and coffee plantations owned and operated by Americans, led to a hardening of the heart among Northern planters, who responded not with debates about emancipation or aspirations for amelioration, but with heads on pikes. I argue that the capitalism of the U.S. North and Caribbean slavery were interdependent, not merely in the push-and-pull of trade but in the ease with which Northerners changed their names and raised the Cuban whip. The brutality of the Northern response in Cuba demonstrates how readily the logic of the Caribbean slave regime impacted trans-national cultural sensibilities: the moral geographies of the U.S. – Cuban Atlantic World were as malleable as the trade routes they followed.


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