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The Last Slave Ships

New York and the End of the Middle Passage

John Harris



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Yale University
12 January 2021
A stunning behind-the-curtain look into the last years of the illegal transatlantic slave trade in the United States Long after the transatlantic slave trade was officially outlawed in the early nineteenth century by every major slave trading nation, merchants based in the United States were still sending hundreds of illegal slave ships from American ports to the African coast. The key instigators were slave traders who moved to New York City after the shuttering of the massive illegal slave trade to Brazil in 1850. These traffickers were determined to make Lower Manhattan a key hub in the illegal slave trade to Cuba. In conjunction with allies in Africa and Cuba, they ensnared around two hundred thousand African men, women, and children during the 1850s and 1860s. John Harris explores how the U.S. government went from ignoring, and even abetting, this illegal trade to helping to shut it down completely in 1867.
By:   John Harris
Imprint:   Yale University
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 220mm,  Width: 150mm,  Spine: 28mm
Weight:   492g
ISBN:   9780300247336
ISBN 10:   0300247338
Pages:   312
Publication Date:   12 January 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

John Harris is assistant professor of history at Erskine College.

Reviews for The Last Slave Ships: New York and the End of the Middle Passage

Harris uncovers the untold story of Lower Manhattan as one of the last hubs of the transatlantic slave trade in the age of steamships, telegrams and daily newspapers. Set against a background of secessionist politics, British spies, and international diplomacy, the author elegantly tracks the last sixteen years of the traffic and offers a new interpretation of why it came to an end. This page-turner combines first rate scholarship with a clear and compelling argument. -David Eltis, co-author of Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Brilliant and strikingly original. An important addition to the literature on the U.S. involvement in the illegal slave trade with major implications for our understanding of the larger conduct of that traffic throughout the Atlantic world. -Randy J. Sparks, Tulane University With startling detail and crisp prose, Harris exposes an international ring of human traffickers based in Lower Manhattan during the final years of the transatlantic slave trade. Today, as the United States scrutinizes the roots of anti-black racism and the traumatic legacies of slavery, The Last Slave Ships reveals new dimensions of U.S. complicity in the twinned history of global capital and chattel slavery. -Sharla Fett, author of Recaptured Africans: Surviving Slave Ships, Detention, and Dislocation in the Final Years of the Slave Trade

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