Download Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail by W. Jeffrey Bolster PDF

By W. Jeffrey Bolster

Few americans, black or white, realize the measure to which early African American historical past is a maritime historical past. W. Jeffrey Bolster shatters the parable that black seafaring within the age of sail used to be constrained to the center Passage. Seafaring used to be essentially the most major occupations between either enslaved and loose black males among 1740 and 1865. Tens of hundreds of thousands of black seamen sailed on lofty clippers and modest coasters. They sailed in whalers, warships, and privateers. a few have been slaves, pressured to paintings at sea, yet via 1800 so much have been loose males, looking liberty and fiscal chance aboard send. Bolster brings an intimate knowing of the ocean to this awesome bankruptcy within the formation of black the USA. due to their strange mobility, sailors have been the eyes and ears to worlds past the restricted horizon of black groups ashore. occasionally aiding to smuggle slaves to freedom, they have been extra usually a different conduit for information and data of shock to blacks. yet for all its possibilities, lifestyles at sea was once tricky. Blacks actively contributed to the Atlantic maritime tradition shared through all seamen, yet have been frequently outsiders inside it. shooting that pressure, Black Jacks examines not just how universal studies drew black and white sailors together--even as deeply internalized prejudices drove them apart--but additionally how the which means of race aboard send replaced with time. Bolster lines the tale to the top of the Civil battle, while emancipated blacks started to be systematically excluded from maritime paintings. Rescuing African American seamen from obscurity, this stirring account unearths the serious position sailors performed in assisting forge new identities for black humans in the USA. An epic story of the increase and fall of black seafaring, Black Jacks is African americans' freedom tale provided from a clean point of view. (19990101)

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Sample text

Vital to the transportation of sugar and to naval protection of the plantation system, ships and boats provided one of Caribbean slave societies’ most porous boundaries. Across it flowed goods, ideas, individuals, and aesthetics, contributing to the hybridity of Afro–West Indian culture. “Divers Felonies and Frauds have been committed,” read an Antiguan statute in 1773 attempting to seal that boundary, “by Means of Boats, commonly called Bum Boats, being permitted to trade with the Ships and Vessels in the Harbour and Road of St.

Black men had every reason to fear the press: it was quite colorblind. But free black sailors circu- Black Sailors in Plantation America  lating around the Atlantic faced the constant and greater fear of enslavement. After Peter van Trump shipped in a brigantine from St. Thomas, bound, he thought, for Europe in the summer of 1725, he discovered that Captain Mackie’s actual destination was North Carolina. ” Blacks were invariably assumed to be slaves unless they could prove otherwise. ”47 White sailors faced no such threats, and many opted for work in the West Indies, where fewer press gangs prowled.

The case of a sailor named Williams makes the point. After fleeing Grenada aboard ship, Williams got homesick. ” In Grenada, however, his former master claimed him, and Williams began to negotiate. The agreement reached between them, and Captain Brown of the Holderness, stipulated that Williams would be manumitted once Brown paid his master “30 joes,” “which was accordingly done by a regular instrument of manumission,” provided that Williams agreed to work for Brown as a seaman for three years at wages lower than the current rate.

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