Challenging the generally accepted belief that the introduction of racial slavery to America was an unplanned consequence of a scarce labor market, Anthony Parent, Jr., contends that during a brief period spanning the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries a small but powerful planter class, acting to further its emerging economic interests, intentionally brought racial slavery to Virginia.
Parent bases his argument on three historical developments: the expropriation of Powhatan lands, the switch from indentured to slave labor, and the burgeoning tobacco trade. He argues that these were the result of calculated moves on the part of an emerging great planter class seeking to consolidate power through large landholdings and the labor to make them productive. To preserve their economic and social gains, this planter class inscribed racial slavery into law. The ensuing racial and class tensions led elite planters to mythologize their position as gentlemen of pastoral virtue immune to competition and corruption. To further this benevolent image, they implemented a plan to Christianize slaves and thereby render them submissive. According to Parent, by the 1720s the Virginia gentry projected a distinctive cultural ethos that buffered them from their uncertain hold on authority, threatened both by rising imperial control and by black resistance, which exploded in the Chesapeake Rebellion of 1730.
- 312 Pages
- Paperback, ISBN 978-0-8078-5486-0
- Measures 6.13” x 0.77” x 9.25”
- Written by Anthony S. Parent, Jr.
- Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press
About the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture
The Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture is the oldest organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to the advancement of study, research, and publications bearing on the history and culture of early America. Books published through UNC Press’s partnership with the OI, which dates back more than half a century, have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, several Bancroft Prizes, and the Francis Parkman Prize.
The Omohundro Institute is an independent research organization sponsored by William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg. All editorial work, including acquisitions, for OI books is done under the direction of OI Editor of Books Catherine E. Kelly.