Seeds of Empire Book Review

 Seeds of Empire Book Review


Institutional Affiliation

Seeds of Empire Book Review

1. In the introduction, Walter Johnson explains that his focus in this book will be on the New Orleans slave market (and slave pens). Why? What does he think we can learn about slavery by studying a slave market?

Walter chooses to focus on the New Orleans Slave market since he discovers something peculiar about the market. Individuals participating in the trade could easily mix language and values associated with paternalism and commercialism. Unlike ancient Europeans, they saw no need to engaging conflict with their modern business practices, thus attracting the Author. In studying a slave market, the Author mentions that we can learn about the history of the trade and political game involved in it.

2. How did the ban on the international slave trade in 1808 impact the buying and selling of enslaved African Americans in the United States?

The ban impacted the buying and selling of Africans Americans in that importation of slaves was restricted. The law took effect, but still, the trade continued illegally to 1998.

3. How large was the domestic slave trade? Both interstate and local sales.

Domestically, the slave trade was estimated to have affected more than one million African Americans who were being transferred from one state to the other. Among the affected upper south states, including North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and extended to the Deep South of the western territories. Sales took place in all the mentioned signatories.

4. What does Johnson mean when he says that the project takes the form of “a thrice-told tale”? Explain.

He meant that the slave trade assumed the position of tale that can be narrated from three different perspectives and still pass across similar thematic concerns. For instance, the systematic brutality can be traced back to the perspective of the demographic needs can be terminated with one accord by the resistance realized therein. Again, the bargaining power involved along with individuals’ perception of goods and also the pricing strategy applied.

5. What four primary sources does Johnson rely on to tell the story?

He relies upon slave narratives expounded on by the visitors who frequented southern parts. Again, he was relying on information from the two hundred slave cases that went ahead of the Supreme Court. Moreover, he was pegging his hopes on letters by the slaveholders and sales record obtained from the trading activities.

6. In chapter one, Johnson describes the “Chattel Principle.” What was it?

            The chattel principle was an analogy indicating that the identity of a slave trade could change quickly, like their price in the market. Slaves were trained to consider their body as an entity with a particular value attached.

7.  How did slave owners and enslaved African Americans view/experience the chattel principle differently?

            To the slave owners, they viewed a slave market as a restricted area since it was holding valuable human species. The chattel principle made them stigmatize the traders, thus posing some contest on the appropriate price to settle for. Dually slaves were resistant to the chattel principle since they invoked havoc by either running away. Slave owners were forced to negotiate as an approach to ascertain paternalism.

8. The early part of chapter two, “Between the Prices,” is principally about slave traders? What does the title of the chapter mean (see page 57)?

            The title of the chapter indicates that slave traders were merely speculators who held other secondary occupations and utilized human trade as a second option. The connections made by the slaves during their enclosure created an informed sense of community. Auctioneers were able to survive out of slave trading. Traders had initial and final price for all slaves for buying and selling.

9. In the section, “The Slave Community in the Slave Trade” (chapter two), how did enslaved African Americans again try to shape the trade and their sale?

African Americans formed a relationship with fellow slaves and avoided battles that could tear them apart. All along, they deepened their relationship by singing songs that could strengthen their relationship and built cultures as a platform to share common values.

10. Chapter three examines slave owners’ mental projections about the purchase and treatment of their slaves and what it might mean about the owners themselves. So, on page 79, Johnson opens a section about male buyers/owners and the way they viewed slave sales and slave ownership. “In the same way that a single automobile today might have vastly different personal meaning to a teenager, a wealthy suburban lawyer, or an isolated elderly person, in the nineteenth century, agricultural slaves (and their produce) had vastly different meanings to the white men of the South.” What were some of those meanings?

Rhetoric and cultural meanings were some of the meanings that were diverse to the white men. They allowed the individuals to hold slaves to downplay their chances of gaining form human trade.

11. How did white men try to shape their household through the slave market (section begins page 89)? What role did white women play? How did they shape their visions of slavery?

            The white who occupied the position of slave owners intended to shape their household by gaining much from the coffee firms as compared to the price utilized in buying slaves. White women assumed equal possession of slaves as it was to their master. They were willing to shape a narrative of banking on their own based on the daily earnings.

12. Several different types of slave purchasers are discussed in the section “paying for mastery” (page 102). Discuss two types and explain what they hoped to purchase through the slave sale.

The two techniques were grabbed and go approach, and the may the highest bidder win guideline also functioned. The buyers wished to secure a functioning slave who was quick functional and posed an ability to handle manual jobs perfectly.

13. What does Johnson say about paternalism? What did the phrase mean? How was it created? See 109-11.

Paternalism was practice by individuals in authority to restrict any freedom to the slaves as an approach to gain maximum from them purposely for self-interest. The concept comes along as an approach to justify the slave trade. Women were attacking themselves to the slaves, indicating that the money attained from the sale was not meant to benefit the acquitted slaves alone.

14.  Chapter four examines the way slave traders prepared slaves for sale. “By this dark magic, this necromancy … slaves could be detached from their pasts and stripped of their identities; their bodies could be disciplined into order and decorated for the market, their skills could be assigned, their qualities designated, their stories retold. Slaves could be remade into the image of the irresistible power of their scalability – fed, medicated, beaten, dressed, hectored, and arrayed until they outwardly appeared to be no more than advertisements for themselves.” (118)  what specific acts did traders perform to get slaves ready for sale?

            Slaves were subjected to a thorough evaluation, after which they were assigned values based on posture, height, and generally workability. They were then subjected to marketing as it does as to goods for the buyers to choose from. Descriptions were utilized as the marketing strategy.

15. “There is no more important question in American history that the … relation of slavery to race, of the process of economic exploitation to the ideology of racial domination.” So writes Walter Johnson (135-136) as he opens chapter five, “Reading Bodies and Marking Race.” What biblical and scientific knowledge did slave buyers bring to the slave pens? How did they attempt to apply this knowledge through specific acts (reading bodies)? And what was the outcome?

The bible was utilized by the salve owners in citing verse, which commanded servants to obey their leaders. Slave ships were named using biblical names. Some churches were said to have sponsored the journey to capture and transport the slaves. The knowledge was applied through completely delegating a task, and authority to the servants’ majority was left with no option. The continued use of the bible to oppress the African Americans led to the liberation of Christianity currently in America.

16. “If necromancy was the slave market’s magic, the race was its technology,” Johnson says on page 161. What was the connection between racism and the traders’ need to make a sale?

Racial prejudice was a trait implanted in slave traders since they degraded the value of African Americans, thus failing to recognize their input into the modern world. Lack of respect and greed to enhance individual growth by the masters contributed to racial connection to trade.

17. Chapter six examines the way enslaved African Americans “could manipulate” slave buyers through subtle signs. What kinds of information did slaves acquire during the slave-sale and trading process? How did they put it to use? Look at page 165, concerning the ways that slaves scrutinized buyers. What does this tell us about the nature of slavery itself?

Slaves acquired information concerning culture, different tradition and biased judges. The information was utilized in shaping the current African American culture and their way of life. Slavery itself was illegal since the blacks were allowed to testify in court.

18. In chapter seven, Johnson examines hat happened to slaves and masters after the sale, during their subsequent lives “in the shadow of the slave market”? “From the moment they were sold,” Johnson says on page 190, “their lives were measured against a buyer’s slave-pen fantasy.” What does this mean? Is “fantasy” an accurate description of the buyer’s expectations as to the slave’s behaviour and its prospects for the slaveholder’s reputation and prosperity?

            It means that life after slave trademarked a new leaf for the individual slaves since it subjected them to new masters and new rules. The prices were varied based on the expectations of the masters for the slaves. Fantasy is not an appropriate description for the new behaviour and prospect though expectations were high to the individuals subjected to the slave trade in the first place.

19. On page 195, Johnson discusses the demographic consequences of the interstate slave trade — how did forced migration patterns affect the concentration of families, the ratio of males to females, and the nature of slavery in the border South as opposed to the deep South?

Forced migration patterns affected the concentration of families since the majority were separated and never to see each other again. The ratio of male to female was also variegated since male increased sharply as compared to African Americans Women. The nature of slavery in the Deep South ripened due to forced migration and slave owners gained massively from the insights.

20. Until a few decades ago, historians believed that slavery had been in decline in the 1840s and 1850s, especially in the upper South, as the slave population was traded into the Deep South and tobacco gave way to cotton, and cotton to other free-labour crops as the cotton kingdom spread into the Southwest. What does Johnson think of that argument?

Johnston borrowed the same idea in his book and appeared to hold a strong belief that historical fact was cited appropriately.

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