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White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America [Paperback]

Don Jordan , Michael Walsh
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 April 2008

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, 300,000 people or more became slaves there in all but name. Urchins were swept up from London's streets to labour in the tobacco fields, brothels were raided to provide 'breeders' for Virginia and hopeful migrants were duped into signing as indentured servants, unaware they would become chattels who could be bought, sold and gambled away.

Drawing on letters, diaries, and court and government archives, the authors demonstrate that the brutalities associated with black slavery alone were perpetrated on whites throughout British rule.

The trade ended with American independence but the British still tried to sell convicts in their former colonies, which prompted one of the most audacious plots in Anglo-American history.

This is a saga of exploitation and cruelty spanning 170 years that has been submerged under the overwhelming memory of black slavery. White Cargo brings the brutal, uncomfortable story to the surface.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (3 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845961935
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845961930
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 160,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"An eye-opening and heart-rending story" (The Times)

"Briskly written . . . harrowing reading" (Daily Telegraph)

"Will certainly make readers re-evaluate all the recent appeasement and hype about apologising for the slave trade" (Daily Mail)

"An extraordinary book" (Toni Morrison)

"A fascinating account of Britain's troubled relationship with its biggest colony" (Metro London)

Book Description

A revealing account of how thousands of Britons lived and died in bondage in Britain's American colonies

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars slavery 15 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the story of the 300,000 plus British and Irish citizens who were either forcibly deported or went as indentured servants to slavery at the tobacco or sugar plantations of Maryland,Virginia or the Caribbean Islands in the 17 and 18 centurys.
Those forcibly deported included unwanted children,nerdowells,criminals,the Irish and the kidnapped to become chattels to be sold at will by their masters.Most suffered extreme cruelty and died at an early age.The system stopped after the American War of Independence in 1776.
Well written and researched with a few illustrations plus good notes and bibliography.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten and Hidden History of White Slaves 24 May 2008
Table of Contents
Introduction: In the Shadow of the Myth

Chapter 1: A Place for the Unwanted: Elizabethan adventurers dreamed of an American empire that would give them gold and glory. Others saw the New World as a dumping ground for England's unwanted poor.

Chapter 2: The Judge's Dream: A highwayman who became Lord Chief Justice planned to colonise American with criminals. He began to empty England's gaols and set a precedent.

Chapter 3: The Merchant Prince: The mastermind behind the first successful English colony in America was reputedly Britain's richest man. He kept a fledging Virginia going and paved the way for the first white slaves.

Chapter 4: Children of the City: The Virginia Company wanted youngsters to work in the tobacco fields. The burghers of London wanted rid of street children. So a bargain was struck and hundreds of children were transported.

Chapter 5: The Jagged Edge: The New World was a magnet for the poor. To get there, they had to mortgage their labour in advance. They were not to know that they had contracted into slavery and might die in bondage.

Chapter 6: `They are not Dogs': Virginia was run by planters who pushed through laws that relegated "servants" and "apprentices" to the status of livestock. Notionally they had rights but planters were literally allowed to get away with murder.

Chapter 7: The People Trade: IN the 1603s, almost 80,000 people left England for the Chesapeake, New England and the Caribbean, most of them indentured servants. A ruthless trade in people developed in which even a small investor could make money.

Chapter 8: Spirited Away: Untold numbers were kidnapped or duped onto America-bound ships and sold as servants.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars White Bondage 12 Feb 2010
Two journalists, Don Jordan and Michael Walsh, have written an account of what they call "The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America". "Forgotten" is over-stating the case somewhat as a number of books on Colonial-era America and indeed on Slavery have previously covered this subject. Indeed the lengthy and decent bibliography at the end of the book is testament to this, including such books as Edmund Morgan's American Slavery, American Freedom and Peter Kolchin's American Slavery. What is perhaps novel about Jordan and Walsh's book is that its audience is the general reader, and it covers this issue, as far as possible, separately from the issue of African slavery in the Americas.

At heart, the reasons for slavery, in it's purest form (African slavery) and in the form it took with regard to white Britons (Bondage, indentured servitude) was the requirement of those who plundered the land from it's Natives for labour. Without a source of labour the landlords of the New World would have been unable to turn a profit, and in the initial stages of colonization this labour was generally that of white Britons. "Recruitment" came in a manner of forms, labourers were persuaded to indenture them-selves for a period to pay for their voyage, children were kidnapped, and prisoners were offered transportation to the colonies in lieu of the hangman's noose. Another source was Ireland, Cromwell in particular loosened up the new world labour market with infusions of Irishmen and woman during his bloody conquest of that ill-starred Isle.
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars revelations about slavery 13 May 2007
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?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read everybody should read this
Published 1 month ago by christopher lovelock
5.0 out of 5 stars This book
This book speaks about a part of English history I never knew about:white slavery. I enjoyed the book. Although, the description of the palaces were too repetitive. Read more
Published 3 months ago by T. Canavan
4.0 out of 5 stars White Cargo
Interesting topic, not terribly well written (a cross between a novel and an historical volume). opinions put forth as facts without footnotes, but overall, fairly informative and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Anthony Hall
4.0 out of 5 stars White Cargo
This product arrived well packed and protected, but has yet to be read. From the reviews it is a must to be read
of real life dramas inlicted upon our own by our own !
Published 4 months ago by Duncan Paul Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Loved reading about all the slaves that were shipped from Britain to America in order to get rid of poorer class. Read more
Published 5 months ago by guitarman
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be Taught in Schools!! No Kings,Queens Admirals .........only...
This, and other books about Slavery , Black, White, Muslim,Christian should be taught in schools. With these stories of man's inhumanity to man, who cares about the Kings Queens... Read more
Published 6 months ago by I. A. Peden
4.0 out of 5 stars informative
Helps reveal part of the terrible white slave trade of times past, something conveniently airbrushed from our history by too many historians and politicians, one of many... Read more
Published 6 months ago by mr j o`neill
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
To people who know there history will already know about this. A lot of black people are aware of this happening i am aware. Read more
Published 11 months ago by kailey
5.0 out of 5 stars White Cargo
This is a sensational expose of what really happened to those most unfortunate early
immigrants/early settlers to the new world. Read more
Published 14 months ago by F. Rooney
5.0 out of 5 stars An angry, excellent book
This is an unusual book which tackles an overlooked aspect of British history. It should be compulsory reading for all who wish to understand not just British but New World history... Read more
Published 15 months ago by M. L. O Doibhilin
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