River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom

River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom

Walter Johnson


When Jefferson received the Louisiana Territory, he estimated an “empire for liberty” populated through self-sufficient white farmers. Cleared of local americans and the remnants of ecu empires by means of Andrew Jackson, the Mississippi Valley used to be remodeled as a substitute right into a booming capitalist economic system commanded by way of filthy rich planters, powered via steam engines, and depending on the coerced exertions of slaves. River of darkish Dreams locations the Cotton country on the middle of globally webs of trade and exploitation that prolonged throughout oceans and drove an insatiable starvation for brand new lands. This daring reaccounting dramatically alters our realizing of yank slavery and its function in U.S. expansionism, worldwide capitalism, and the approaching Civil War.

Walter Johnson deftly strains the connections among the planters’ pro-slavery ideology, Atlantic commodity markets, and Southern schemes for worldwide ascendency. utilizing slave narratives, renowned literature, felony files, and private correspondence, he recreates the harrowing information of everyday life below cotton’s darkish dominion. We meet the boldness males and gamblers who made the Valley shimmer with promise, the slave purchasers, steamboat captains, and retailers who provided the markets, the planters who wrung their civilization out of the minds and our bodies in their human estate, and the real believers who threatened the Union by means of attempting to extend the Cotton country on a world scale.

yet on the heart of the tale Johnson tells are the enslaved those that pulled down the forests, planted the fields, picked the cotton—who worked, suffered, and resisted at the darkish underside of the yankee dream.

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