The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997 Page: 398
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
to those interested in late-colonial life and early Mexican rule in northern New
University of New Mexico, Valencia Campus RICHARD MELZER
Slave Trading in the Old South. By Frederic Bancroft. Introduction by Michael
Tadman. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996. Pp. xxvi-
ii+415. Illustrations, preface, introduction, index. ISBN 1-57003-103-7.
In 1931, Frederic Bancroft's classic work on the interregional Southern slave
trade was published. The work was intended as a rebuttal to the benign picture
of slavery earlier presented by Ulrich B. Phillips, and Bancroft had all the proper
credentials, such as a Ph.D. from Columbia University and antislavery parents.
Massively documented and one of the first histories to use oral testimony, Ban-
croft's Slave Trading in the Old South may have planted the seeds for the exten-
sive revision of the history of slavery in the past three decades. To be sure, the
book is infused with a patronizing attitude, impressionistic evidence, and views
about African Americans that have been completely rejected, but it still remains
an essential source for studying internal slave sales.
Bancroft surmised the obvious: "Slave-trading and slavery were mutually neces-
sary" (p. 365). He suggested over six decades ago that slave traders were not the
outcasts or even shunned by Southern society as Phillips had so vehemently ar-
gued in his various works. This myth had been promoted by various generations
and had become an established tradition in the early decades of the twentieth
century. Numerous prominent community members engaged in this practice,
including the infamous Nathan Bedford Forrest. In fact, the "only persons that
'hated traders,' of all kinds," wrote Bancroft, were slaves, the "'hate' being main-
ly fear, for a trader betokened separation from kindred and old associations, and
a dreaded uncertainty" (p. 369).
Michael Tadman, whose own book (Speculators and Slaves: Masters, Traders,
and Slaves in the Old South [1989, 1996]) set the standard for delineating the
widespread extent of the interregional slave trade, has written a superb introduc-
tion to this edition of Bancroft's book. By setting Bancroft's study in a historio-
graphical context, the editor has demonstrated both the strength and
weaknesses of Slave Trading. Tadman goes on to explain why slave sales, the
splitting of families, and the separation of children from the parents have been
misunderstood and misinterpreted in older and current studies, with Bancroft,
of course, being the exception. The University of South Carolina Press is to be
commended for reissuing this classic.
Gallaudet University BARRY A. CROUCH
The Personal Correspondence of Sam Houston. Volume I: 1839-I845. Edited by
Madge Thornal Roberts. (University of North Texas Press, 1994. Pp.
xiv+390. Preface, bibliography, appendix. ISBN 1-57441-ooo-8. $32.50,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997, periodical, 1997; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/m1/464/ocr/: accessed May 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.