Gallay, Alan. The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire
in the American South, 1670-1717 (New Haven and London: Yale University,
2002). 480 pp, $35.00.
As an instructor of world and Native American
history, I work against perpetuating the myth that Native American slavery
played a rather insignificant role in the history of the Western Hemisphere.
When I was a student, for example, I was told that Amerindians, when forced
by Europeans to work on plantations and in mines, died of disease and were
quickly replaced by slaves from Africa. Furthermore, I learned that Native
Americans, when captured, had better chances to run away due to their familiarity
with their surroundings. Only in my advanced studies did I realize that
this was an oversimplified version of the history of the Western Hemisphere.
As a teacher I am always looking for better ways to present the complexities
of Native American slavery.
I was excited to learn about Alan Gallay's
monograph, The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in
the American South, 1670-1717, especially as I began reading the introduction,
which states that the study is set in a larger world historical context.
As I continued reading, though, I grew somewhat disappointed. Certainly,
instructors of world history will be able to use The Indian Slave Trade
to draw comparisons and make connections with other global empires,
coercive labor systems, and areas of cross-cultural encounters. But Galy
does not develop such connections and comparisons. Furthermore, many instructors
of world history will find Gallay's discussion of the geopolitics of the
British Empire too peripheral and undeveloped. While the book does an excellent
job discussing local developments in what we today call the U.S. South,
Gallay could have expanded his analysis of global processes.
Even so, within its boundaries of place and time,
Gallay's book is an impressive tour de force. Even though The
Indian Slave Trade focuses on the English colony of Carolina, Gallay
extends his study into many corners of the South. Due to this ambitious
agenda, The Indian Slave Trade counteracts the splintering effect
noticeable in the historiography of the South, which is so often concerned
with isolated case studies focused on narrow aspects of British, French,
and Spanish empires, or of Native American and African American history.
Gallay uses on sources in English, French, and Spanish, and employs methodologies
drawn from ethnohistory, anthropology, and archeology. All this persuades
him "that the drive to control Indian labor – which extended to every
nook and cranny of the South – was inextricably connected to the growth
of the plantations and that the trade in Indian slaves was at the center
of the English empire's development in the American South. The trade in
Indian slaves was the most important factor effecting the South in the period
1679 to 1715: its impact was felt from Arkansas to the Carolinas and south
to the Florida Keys." Thus, Gallay suggests that we should consider the
Native American experience alongside that of Africans to understand the
emergence of racial slavery in the South.
To weaken their imperial competitors, English
Carolinians and their Native American supporters attacked such Spanish and
French allies as Florida's Timucuan. White Carolinians quickly "learned
that they could make greater profits by attacking and enslaving their European
foe's indigenous allies than by assaulting the French and the Spanish directly."
For much of the Carolinas' early history, the Native American slave trade
was a lucrative business, one which forced thousands of Amerindian men,
women, and children out of their homelands, and into a life of forced labor.
Gallay emphasizes the complexity of these cross-cultural encounters. Amerindian
participated as active players in the capture and sale of peoples they considered
enemies. At the same time, Gallay notes that European survival in the region
depended on alliances with Native Americans.
Few newly enslaved Amerndians stayed
in the Carolinas. Most were sold to Barbados, New England and other locations
in British North America to join others of Amerindian and African origin
on plantations and farms. These connections to other parts of the plantation
system of the English Empire, which would be of particular interest to instructors
of world history, are unfortunately not explored much further.
only in chapter eleven that Gallay discusses the Indian slave trade itself
in some detail. This chapter will be useful to teachers of world history.
Gallay argues that the British in Carolina and their native allies captured
30,000 to 50,000 Amerindians for sale. Thus, prior to 1715, the British in
Carolina exported more slaves than they imported. Readers will find particularly
useful a table on page 299 that provides detailed information on the numbers
of captured Amerindians from the southeastern Woodlands. Still, instructors
of world history would have probably wanted Gallay to develop further the
global, comparative, and trans-colonial implications of this trade and how
it fits into the history of forced labor systems and Atlantic World colonization.
University of Massachusetts Lowell