White Cargo is an eye-opener and rivetting. I give it five stars first because it has an astonishing new take on slavery that is unbelievable at first but becomes more and more credible as the story unfolds. My second reason is that it is also a real page turner that I couldn't put down. The main claims are that the first slaves in America were white, not black, that white slavery existed in fact though not in name for the entite colonial period and that whites outnumbered blacks in the slave gangs for much of the time. This knocks on the head the accepted story that slavery began with a shipload of Africanms in 1618. Apparently these Africans joined white men, women and children from England who were already enslaved and all were treated with equal brutality. Only much later were larege numbers of blacks brought in and enslaved.
It is a book that may well cause outrage among the politically correct by equating white with black suffering. We are schooled to think only of black bodies whipped and branded and treated as chattels in the New World, not of it happeninhg to hundreds of thousands of whites. However Jordan and Walsh havw unearthed a wealth of evidence that English paupers, orphans, vagrants and convicts were also shipped to Virginia in chains to be auctioned like cattle and treated no better than the Africans. Why have we never heard of this grim chapter in the history of American slavery? Is it more shameful to enslave your own race than another's?