Essay on Insights on the Domestic Slave Trade

Essay on Insights on the Domestic Slave Trade

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The image of American slave traders popularized and ingrained upon the national consciousness is based predominantly upon the character of Mr. Haley in Uncle Tom's Cabin. It is one of brash and opportunistic men of dubious background, character and principles, inherently racist and brutish in nature, motivated solely by profit. Ironically this largely echoed the view depicted publicly in the pro-slavery oratory and writings, which typically minimized the importance of the trade and portrayed the traders as social outcasts from the genteel antebellum culture of the South, thus reinforcing this fictitious version of history. Close scrutiny by many prominent historians has unquestionably shown this image is not historically accurate however. Far from being social outcasts with no community ties, many traders were in fact prominent citizens holding important positions in government and business. The most enterprising and successful of their number took full advantage of the latest innovations in modern transportation and employed effective market and advertising strategies thus introducing a spirit of commercialism which was so prevalent in the North to the South's agrarian culture. While it can not be disputed the most of these men held strongly racist views and many committed appalling acts in the course of the business, most saw themselves as men of vision who were simply pursuing their own American dream of happiness and prosperity. In their estimation their business practices were no more unethical than those of Northern entrepreneurs and served a viable need to the public at large.
Stowe introduces us to her fictitious Mr. Haley with an air of obvious distaste, describing him as “a short, thick-set man, with coarse, co...


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Smith, Karen R. “Resurrection, Uncle Tom's Cabin” and the Reader in Crisis, Penn State University Press, 1996, Accessed April 23, 2012, /40247080?uid=3739744&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid= 21100737798371>

Stephenson, Wendell Holmes. Isaac Franklin, slave trader and planter of the Old South; with plantation records. University, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1938.

Tadman, Michael. Speculators and slaves: masters, traders, and slaves in the Old South. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.

"The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin." University of Virginia Library. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/StoKeyu.html (accessed April 9, 2012).

Winter, Kari J.. The American dreams of John B. Prentis, slave trader. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.

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