Monday, November 9, 2015

Sublette's 'American Slave Coast' exposes growth of U.S. economy based on slave breeding

In 1808 the importation of slaves ceased in America, cutting off the supply of slave labor from Africa to the U.S. agricultural industry. From that time to slavery’s abolishment during the Civil War, captive African American women were used as breeders to continue the slave trade, the sale of their children bringing profits to their owners and feeding the southern economy based on slavery.
This despicable practice of using human beings for reproduction is the subject of a massive new work by Ned and Constance Sublette of New Orleans, published by Lawrence Hill Books, an imprint of Chicago Review Press. “The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry” looks at the interstate trade of slaves, mainly from Virginia, what the authors call “the great slave breeder.”
Ned Sublette is the author of “The World That Made New Orleans,” “Cuba and its Music” and “The Year Before the Flood.” Constance Sublette has published, as Constance Ash, three novels and edited the anthology “Not of Woman Born.” The two began working on the book in 2010 when Ned Sublette was in residence at Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience in Chestertown, Maryland.
“That fellowship was an absolutely transformative experience for us,” he said. “The Starr Center has been the laboratory for some of the most dynamic work being done about the history of the early republic.”
Constance Sublette’s interest in biography influenced the way historical figures enter and exit the narrative, according to the publisher’s press release.
“For me it was for the women — those millions of nameless women who were mandated to be constantly pregnant, even if it killed them, yet had no legal right to their own children,” she said. “This book is for them.”
            The Sublettes will read from and discuss “The American Slave Coast” at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Tulane University’s Freeman Auditorium in New Orleans, on Tuesday at the New Orleans Community Book Center and at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at Octavia Books of New Orleans.  

Cheré Dastugue Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire, “A Cajun Dream” and “The Letter.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.