The United States and the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Americas, 1776-1867 Open Access

Marques, Leonardo (2013)

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This dissertation explores US participation in the transatlantic slave trade to the Americas by tracking the changing behavior of slave traders and their networks. Involvement in Atlantic slavery can be seen as part of a continuum, ranging from direct forms, such as the organization of slave-trading voyages, to more indirect ones, such as the selling of equipment and vessels to slave traders or the consumption of slave grown sugar and coffee. US citizens engaged in each of these forms but the degree of their involvement changed over time, with certain forms becoming more predominant than others. These shifts were directly connected to the rise of abolitionism and subsequent conflicts over the definition of what constituted legitimate and illegitimate forms of involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. This study explores the emergence of a US branch of the transatlantic slave trade and its quick dismantling in the early nineteenth century. It then looks at the forms of US participation in a highly internationalized contraband slave trade that supplied captives to Brazil and Cuba in the mid-nineteenth century. The growth of these forms of US participation resonated in the US public sphere, contributing to growing tensions around the slavery issue in the 1850s, and in the international arena, stimulating frictions between the British Empire and the United States. This work explores these national and international tensions and the role of slave-trading networks in exploiting and prolonging them. It concludes by looking at the central role of the US Civil War in ending the transatlantic slave trade and ultimately slavery in the Americas.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

North American Slave Traders in the Age of Revolution, 1776-1807____________23

Slave trading in the early Republic: size and direction

Early attempts at regulation

Bristol, a slave-trading enclave

From Saint Domingue to Cuba


Chapter 2

Transitions, 1808-1820________________________________________________85

US merchants and the growth of the Spanish slave trade to Cuba

The slave-trading enclave after abolition

Slave-smuggling in the South

The 1818-1820 legislation

Chapter 3

The Consolidation of the Contraband Slave Trade, 1820-1850_________________156

The slave trade domesticated: the United States

The birth of the contraband slave trade: Brazil

The birth of the contraband slave trade: Cuba

The resurgence of US involvement in the traffic to Cuba

Chapter 4

The United States and the Contraband Slave Trade to Brazil, 1831-1856________202

The numbers of US participation in the Brazilian slave trade

North American merchants and slave-trading networks in Brazil

The Brazilian slave trade and the US political sphere

The US compromise against the traffic in Brazil

The suppression of the transatlantic slave trade to Brazil

Chapter 5

Slave Trading in the Slaveholding Republic, 1851-1858______________________266

The reconfiguration of slave-trading networks

The numbers of US participation in the Cuban slave trade

Tensions and strategies

Chapter 6

Crisis, 1859-1867___________________________________________________313

The renewal of tensions

The Democrat's assault on the slave trade

The Republican assault on the slave trade



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