The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

slavery has led many to make errors of omission or commission when writing
about the various facets of slavery.
Published posthumously, Blacks in Bondage is the last work of a brilliant
young historian who earlier gave us Industrial Slavery in the Old South
and edited Denmark Vesey: The Slave Conspiracy of 1822. The volume
helps provide a unique insight into slavery because it is a look at slavery
from the point of view of the slave himself. Blacks in Bondage is a fine book,
combining the intrinsic interest of the subject matter with excellent and
judicious editorial work. It is exactly what one would have expected from
Robert Starobin.
Northwestern State University JOHN MILTON PRICE
The Slave Narratives of Texas. Edited by Ronnie C. Tyler and Lawrence
R. Murphy. (Austin: The Encino Press, 1974. Pp. xlviii+143. Intro-
duction, photographs, notes, bibliography, appendix. $7-95.)
For several years there has been a growing awareness of the fact that the
standard accounts of Negro slavery in the United States-whether critical
or apologetic in tone-have rested heavily on the writings of whites. It was
easy to argue that there was no viable alternative, for the slaves-among
whom illiteracy was fostered by southern society as a laudable condition-
left few written records and the polemical writings of northern free blacks
during the period of the slavery controversy are so heavily biased as to have
little credibility. In any event, these latter authors rarely knew very much
or cared very deeply about the reality of day-to-day existence under slavery.
Of course, equally biased writings of white slaveowners and travelers (some
of them bitterly anti-slavery) were used, but these comments had the
virtue of being based on personal observation (however slight) and, equally
important, of being readily available.
But black sources based on direct observation did exist, for during the
antebellum period fugitives produced a number of accounts of the slave
system (which, admittedly, must be used with some care) and in the I930os
the Federal Writers' Project recorded a substantial body of recollections
of former slaves. Students of slavery, nevertheless, have generally permitted
these potentialy rich veins of historical data to remain unworked until
within the last few years.
Professors Tyler and Murphy do not, of course, propose wholly to redress
the balance with this single brief volume. Their aims are more modest, and,
hence, more realistic. They wish only to look at the "peculiar institution"

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/. Accessed August 28, 2014.