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Cultivating Race: The Expansion of Slavery in Georgia, 1750-1860

by Watson W. Jennison

Availablepaperback$30.00s 978-0-8131-6125-9
Availablecloth$70.00x 978-0-8131-3426-0
New Directions in Southern History
440 pages  Pubdate: 05/26/2015  6 x 9  5 b&w photos, 8 maps

From the eighteenth century to the eve of the Civil War, Georgia’s racial order shifted from the somewhat fluid conception of race prevalent in the colonial era to the harsher understanding of racial difference prevalent in the antebellum era. In Cultivating Race: The Expansion of Slavery in Georgia, 1750–1860, Watson W. Jennison explores the centrality of race in the development of Georgia, arguing that long-term structural and demographic changes account for this transformation. Jennison traces the rise of rice cultivation and the plantation complex in low country Georgia in the mid-eighteenth century and charts the spread of slavery into the up country in the decades that followed. Cultivating Race examines the “cultivation” of race on two levels: race as a concept and reality that was created, and race as a distinct social order that emerged because of the specifics of crop cultivation. Using a variety of primary documents including newspapers, diaries, correspondence, and plantation records, Jennison offers an in-depth examination of the evolution of racism and racial ideology in the lower South.

Watson W. Jennison, assistant professor of African American history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has written for the Journal of Southern History and the North Carolina Historical Review. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Makes a genuine contribution to our understanding of antebellum Georgia. -- Timothy J. Lockley, author of Maroon Communities in South Carolina: A Documentary Record

Colonial Georgia has long been known as 'the debatable land' contested by the British and Spanish crowns. That imperial conflict, as Watson Jennison shows, was the tip of the iceberg. In a sweeping account, Jennison describes the struggle between Low Country planters, Revolutionary republicans, black maroons, free people of color, and Native Americans to control the region. Georgia's violent and tumultuous first century culminated in the creation of a white man's republic. Readers of this excellent book will know that the outcome was neither uncontested nor inevitable. -- Claudio Saunt, author of Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family

Jennison's thoughtful synthesis of social, intellectual, and political history will stand for some time to come as the best one-volume account we have of slavery and racism in Georgia. This is a book that students and scholars of slavery, the South, and race in American history need to read and contend with. -- Anthony E. Kaye, author of Joining Places: Slave Neighborhoods in the Old South

Finesses Georgia's racial history to show that divides were not inevitable and that the call for the democratazation of white society helped create a bifurcated society by the antebellum era. . . . Jennison improves our understanding of how these divides came to be. -- Choice

This book provides interesting insight into the history of Georgia and demands a place on any early Americna reading list. -- Southern Historian

This book is a welcomed addition to the literature on race and slavery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. -- Journal of American History

This readable and engaging history provides a fresh perspective on familiar chronologies. That the work at times seems to be counterintuitive or counterfactual is a testament to the ways in which Jennison challenges assumptions about the meanings of race and the histories we tell ourselves. -- American Historian Review

"Cultivating Race" is highly readable and recommended for graduate courses on colonial and antebellum U.S. history. -- Kellie Carter Jackson -- The Journal of African American History