The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America (Hardcover)

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An award-winning historian reveals the harrowing forgotten story of America's internal slave trade—and its role in the making of America.

Slave traders are peripheral figures in most histories of American slavery. But these men—who trafficked and sold over half a million enslaved people from the Upper South to the Deep South—were essential to slavery's expansion and fueled the growth and prosperity of the United States.

In The Ledger and the Chain, acclaimed historian Joshua D. Rothman recounts the shocking story of the domestic slave trade by tracing the lives and careers of Isaac Franklin, John Armfield, and Rice Ballard, who built the largest and most powerful slave-trading operation in American history. Far from social outcasts, they were rich and widely respected businessmen, and their company sat at the center of capital flows connecting southern fields to northeastern banks. Bringing together entrepreneurial ambition and remorseless violence toward enslaved people, domestic slave traders produced an atrocity that forever transformed the nation.

About the Author


Joshua D. Rothman is professor of history and chair of the department of history at the University of Alabama. He is the author of two prize-winning books, Flush Times and Fever Dreams and Notorious in the Neighborhood. He lives in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Praise For…


"A searing account of the reprehensible life’s work of Franklin and his remorseless business associates. Other scholars have produced accounts of the domestic slave trade. Mr. Rothman writes about slave traders, and puts an indelible face on their inhumanity."—Wall Street Journal

"Accounts of American slavery often overlook the central role of the traders who profited. Rothman’s history focuses on three of the biggest.”—New York Times Book Review

“Powerful … Rothman confounds the stereotype of the slave trader as scrappy outsider… [and] brilliantly captures the grotesque collision of dehumanization and sentimentality that shaped the worlds of Franklin and his associates.”—New York Review of Books

“Tremendous…[The Ledger and the Chain] intertwines a careful biography of a very successful business with unflinching attention to the monstrosity that business was built upon.”—Slate

“Slave traders aren’t often called out by name, and therefore are subjected to little accountability. But Rothman shines a light on how these human traffickers were responsible for crimes against humanity, the sale of over half a million enslaved people among them.”—Fortune

"Amazing, disturbing…a stunning, unsettling account of a guilt shared more widely and more enthusiastically than many Americans like to think.”—Christian Science Monitor

“A riveting narrative, formidably documented and written with quiet fury… brilliant."—Times Literary Supplement

"Rothman employs his wide breadth of knowledge about the era to vividly depict the human and economic impacts of the domestic slave trade as it burgeoned in the early 19th century...An excellent work of vast research that hauntingly delineates the ‘intimate daily savageries of the slave trade.'"—Kirkus

"Through meticulous archival research, Rothman debunks the myth that slave traders were social outcasts and tracks how their brazen advertisements and abusive treatment of captive men, women, and children were used by abolitionists to stoke public outrage. This trenchant study deserves a wide and impassioned readership.”—Publisher's Weekly

"Wide ranging and meticulously documented...A must read account that sheds light on the interdependence of slavery and capitalism in the United States."—Library Journal

"Antebellum America was simultaneously a robust marketplace of strivers and a landscape of horror for the millions who were enslaved. In this groundbreaking work, Joshua Rothman reveals the intimate connection between the two. His study of the under-examined slave trade shows how it was integral to the rise of interstate commerce, the flow of credit, and the establishment of new transportation routes. He also underscores its systematic cruelty, in which men gloried in rape and casually sold children from parents yet stood as respected members of the community. The Ledger and the Chain is detailed, incisive, and devastating."—T. J. Stiles, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The First Tycoon and Custer's Trials

"A tour de force of deep research and vivid detail that illuminates big and critical issues. Beautifully written too. Moving, horrifying, unforgettable."—Drew Faust, Harvard University

“The story of the international slave trade is well known to many. Much less known are the workings of the domestic slave trade in the United States that sent tens of thousands of enslaved African Americans from the Upper South to the cotton and sugar fields in the Deep South. With exhaustive research and piercing insight, Joshua Rothman’s The Ledger and the Chain brings that history alive through the stories of three men who sat at the nexus between Southern cotton producers and Northern financial institutions. As the tragic legacies of these men are still with us, this book should be read by all who are interested in our current racial predicament.”—Annette Gordon-Reed, coauthor of Most Blessed of the Patriarchs

“We are sometimes told that the quintessential American story is the tale of the small business that makes it big. If that’s the case, there’s no more American story than The Ledger and the Chain, Joshua Rothman’s brilliant new history of the slave-trading entrepreneurs Isaac Franklin, John Armfield, and Rice Ballard.”—Edward E. Baptist, author of The Half Has Never Been Told

“Joshua Rothman carefully and empirically builds from a forensic accounting of the lives and practices of those Frederick Douglass termed the ‘man-drovers’ and others called the ‘soul drivers’ to a social autopsy of the whole of American slavery in the nineteenth century. Essential.”—Walter Johnson, author of The Broken Heart of America
Product Details
ISBN: 9781541616615
ISBN-10: 1541616618
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021
Pages: 512
Language: English

How to read more

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How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.

 

And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.

 

15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.

 

50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.

 

Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.

 

Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.

 

Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.

 

Outcome

Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.

 
 
 

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