In this new interpretation of antebellum slavery, Anthony Kaye
offers a vivid portrait of slaves transforming adjoining
plantations into slave neighborhoods. He describes men and women
opening paths from their owners' plantations to adjacent farms to
go courting and take spouses, to work, to run away, and to
otherwise contend with owners and their agents. In the course of
cultivating family ties, forging alliances, working, socializing,
and storytelling, slaves fashioned their neighborhoods into the
locus of slave society.
is the first book about slavery to use the
pension files of former soldiers in the Union army, a vast source
of rich testimony by ex-slaves. From these detailed accounts, Kaye
tells the stories of men and women in love, "sweethearting,"
"taking up," "living together," and marrying across plantation
lines; striving to get right with God; carving out neighborhoods as
a terrain of struggle; and working to overthrow the slaveholders'
regime. Kaye's depiction of slaves' sense of place in the Natchez
District of Mississippi reveals a slave society that comprised not
a single, monolithic community but an archipelago of many
neighborhoods. Demonstrating that such neighborhoods prevailed
across the South, he reformulates ideas about slave marriage,
resistance, independent production, paternalism, autonomy, and the
slave community that have defined decades of scholarship.