424 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 22 halftones, 4 maps, 3 tables, appends., notes, index
Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia
Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France
2013 Merle Curti Award, Organization of American Historians
2013 FEEGI Biennial Book Prize, Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, French colonists and their Native allies participated in a slave trade that spanned half of North America, carrying thousands of Native Americans into bondage in the Great Lakes, Canada, and the Caribbean. In Bonds of Alliance, Brett Rushforth reveals the dynamics of this system from its origins to the end of French colonial rule. Balancing a vast geographic and chronological scope with careful attention to the lives of enslaved individuals, this book gives voice to those who lived through the ordeal of slavery and, along the way, shaped French and Native societies.
Rather than telling a simple story of colonial domination and Native victimization, Rushforth argues that Indian slavery in New France emerged at the nexus of two very different forms of slavery: one indigenous to North America and the other rooted in the Atlantic world. The alliances that bound French and Natives together forced a century-long negotiation over the nature of slavery and its place in early American society. Neither fully Indian nor entirely French, slavery in New France drew upon and transformed indigenous and Atlantic cultures in complex and surprising ways.
Based on thousands of French and Algonquian-language manuscripts archived in Canada, France, the United States and the Caribbean, Bonds of Alliance bridges the divide between continental and Atlantic approaches to early American history. By discovering unexpected connections between distant peoples and places, Rushforth sheds new light on a wide range of subjects, including intercultural diplomacy, colonial law, gender and sexuality, and the history of race.
“The extensive use of linguistic and archaeological evidence makes this a pathbreaking work. . . . Highly recommended. Graduate students, faculty.”
"Brilliantly bringing together Native American and Atlantic History, Bonds of Alliance offers a nuanced analysis of shifting forms, meanings, and experiences of slavery. Rushforth draws on prodigious and wide-ranging research, using travel narratives, social history, and linguistic analysis to tell a rich and vivid story. A tremendous contribution to our understanding of the French Atlantic."
--Laurent Dubois, Duke University
"Avec Bonds of Alliance, l'histoire de l'esclavage en Amérique ne sera plus jamais la même. Porté par une écriture puissante et par une époustouflante érudition, l'ouvrage de Brett Rushforth montre que non seulement plusieurs systèmes serviles ont coexisté sur le continent américain à l'époque moderne mais aussi qu'ils opéraient à des échelles et à des fins bien différentes que ce qu'a retenu l'historiographie."
--Dominique Deslandres, Université de Montréal
"This pioneering approach to colonial North American history traces the traffic in Native American captives from the continental heartland into slavery in French Canada and on the sugar plantations of the Caribbean. . . . A highly original and strongly argued study that will force us to rethink the received wisdom on Native-French relations."
--Allan Greer, McGill University
"Rushforth imaginatively uses French and Native sources to illuminate a largely forgotten but vitally important chapter of the American encounter. . . . He never loses sight of the human stories, especially of enslaved Natives, which form the larger patterns he has found. A remarkable achievement."
--James H. Merrell, Vassar College
© 2012 The University of North Carolina Press
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