The Secret Life of Bacon Tait, a White Slave Trader Married to a Free Woman of Color

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2017-04-17 23:11Z by Steven

The Secret Life of Bacon Tait, a White Slave Trader Married to a Free Woman of Color

Louisiana State University Press
March 2017
224 pages
5.50 x 8.50 inches
no illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807165218

Hank Trent

Historians have long discussed the interracial families of prominent slave dealers in Richmond, Virginia, and elsewhere, yet, until now, the story of slave trader Bacon Tait remained untold. Among the most prominent and wealthy citizens of Richmond, Bacon Tait embarked upon a striking and unexpected double life: that of a white slave trader married to a free black woman. In The Secret Life of Bacon Tait, Hank Trent tells Tait’s complete story for the first time, reconstructing the hidden aspects of his strange and often paradoxical life through meticulous research in lawsuits, newspapers, deeds, and other original records.

Active and ambitious in a career notorious even among slave owners for its viciousness, Bacon Tait nevertheless claimed to be married to a free woman of color, Courtney Fountain, whose extended family were involved in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. As Trent reveals, Bacon Tait maintained his domestic sphere as a loving husband and father in a mixed-race family in the North while running a successful and ruthless slave-trading business in the South. Though he possessed legal control over thousands of other black women at different times, Trent argues that Tait remained loyal to his wife, avoiding the predatory sexual practices of many slave traders. No less remarkably, Courtney Tait and their four children received the benefits of Tait’s wealth while remaining close to her family of origin, many of whom spoke out against the practice of slavery and even fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union.

In a fascinating display of historical detective work, Trent illuminates the worlds Bacon Tait and his family inhabited, from the complex partnerships and rivalries among slave traders to the anxieties surrounding free black populations in Courtney and Bacon Tait’s adopted city of Salem, Massachusetts. Tait’s double life illuminates the complex interplay of control, manipulation, love, hate, denigration, and respect among interracial families, all within the larger context of a society that revolved around the enslavement of black Americans by white traders.

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In the Creole Twilight: Poems and Songs from Louisiana Folklore

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Poetry, United States on 2015-11-28 21:50Z by Steven

In the Creole Twilight: Poems and Songs from Louisiana Folklore

Louisiana State University Press
September 2015
88 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
30 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807161548

Joshua Clegg Caffery, Visiting Professor in Folklore
Indiana University, Bloomington

Many recurring motifs found in south Louisiana’s culture spring from the state’s rich folklore. Influenced by settlers of European and African heritage, celebrated customs like the Courir de Mardi Gras and fabled creatures like the Loup-Garou are outgrowths of the region’s distinctive oral traditions. Joshua Clegg Caffery’s In the Creole Twilight draws from this vibrant and diverse legacy to create an accessible reimagining of traditional storytelling and song.

A scholar and Grammy-nominated musician, Caffery borrows from the syllabic structures, rhyme schemes, narratives, and settings that characterize Louisiana songs and tales to create new verse that is both well-researched and refreshingly inventive. Paired with original pen-and-ink illustrations as well as notes that clarify the origins of characters and themes, Caffery’s compositions provide a link to the old worlds of southern Louisiana while constructing an entirely new one.

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Blood Work: Imagining Race in American Literature, 1890-1940

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2015-03-29 20:12Z by Steven

Blood Work: Imagining Race in American Literature, 1890-1940

Louisiana State University Press
January 2015
240 pages
5.50 x 8.50 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807157848

Shawn Salvant, Assistant Professor of English and African American
University of Connecticut

The invocation of blood—as both an image and a concept—has long been critical in the formation of American racism. In Blood Work, Shawn Salvant mines works from the American literary canon to explore the multitude of associations that race and blood held in the consciousness of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Americans.

Drawing upon race and metaphor theory, Salvant provides readings of four classic novels featuring themes of racial identity: Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894); Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood (1902); Frances Harper’s Iola Leroy (1892); and William Faulkner’s Light in August (1932). His expansive analysis of blood imagery uncovers far more than the merely biological connotations that dominate many studies of blood rhetoric: the racial discourses of blood in these novels encompass the anthropological and the legal, the violent and the religious. Penetrating and insightful, Blood Work illuminates the broad-ranging power of the blood metaphor to script distinctly American plots—real and literary—of racial identity.

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Flight: A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2014-01-25 18:12Z by Steven

Flight: A Novel

Louisiana State University Press
April 1998 (Originally published in 1926)
304 pages
5.50 x 8.50 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780807122808

Walter White (1893-1955)

Published amid controversy in 1926, Flight focuses on the dilemma of Mimi Daquin, a light-complexioned African American woman who passes, for a time, as white. In the New Orleans of her birth, Mimi never encountered the hierarchies of skin color that existed elsewhere. But when her family moves to Atlanta, she embarks on a lifelong lesson about what it really means to belong to a people. From the Atlanta riot of 1906 to her shameful expulsion from black bourgeois society because of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, to her working-class status in Philadelphia and Harlem, Mimi eventually decides to escape her miseries by passing for white in New York City. There, her success exceeds her expectations but even so cannot quell a recurrent yearning.

Walter White (1893–1955), a blond-haired, blue-eyed African American, was a native of Atlanta and an adopted New Yorker. His other works are the novel Fire in the Flint and an autobiography, A Man Called White. He was a major figure in the NAACP for more than three decades.

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The Forgotten People: Cane River’s Creoles of Color (revised edition)

Posted in Books, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-09-05 21:53Z by Steven

The Forgotten People: Cane River’s Creoles of Color (revised edition)

Louisiana State University Press
November 2013 (First published in 1977)
480 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
25 halftones, 3 maps, 3 charts
Paperback ISBN: 9780807137130

Gary B. Mills (1944–2002), Professor of History
University of Alabama

Revised by:

Elizabeth Shown Mills

Foreword by:

H. Sophie Burton

Out of colonial Natchitoches, in northwestern Louisiana, emerged a sophisticated and affluent community founded by a family of freed slaves. Their plantations eventually encompassed 18,000 fertile acres, which they tilled alongside hundreds of their own bondsmen. Furnishings of quality and taste graced their homes, and private tutors educated their children. Cultured, deeply religious, and highly capable, Cane River’s Creoles of color enjoyed economic privileges but led politically constricted lives. Like their white neighbors, they publicly supported the Confederacy and suffered the same depredations of war and political and social uncertainties of Reconstruction. Unlike white Creoles, however, they did not recover amid cycles of Redeemer and Jim Crow politics.

First published in 1977, The Forgotten People offers a socioeconomic history of this widely publicized but also highly romanticized community—a minority group that fit no stereotypes, refused all outside labels, and still struggles to explain its identity in a world mystified by Creolism.

Now revised and significantly expanded, this time-honored work revisits Cane River’s “forgotten people” and incorporates new findings and insight gleaned across thirty-five years of further research. This new edition provides a nuanced portrayal of the lives of Creole slaves and the roles allowed to freed people of color, tackling issues of race, gender, and slave holding by former slaves. The Forgotten People corrects misassumptions about the origin of key properties in the Cane River National Heritage Area and demonstrates how historians reconstruct the lives of the enslaved, the impoverished, and the disenfranchised.

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My Passage at the New Orleans Tribune: A Memoir of the Civil War Era

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-06-04 20:42Z by Steven

My Passage at the New Orleans Tribune: A Memoir of the Civil War Era

LSU Press
April 2001 (Originally published in 1872)
184 pages
5.50 x 9.00 inches
3 halftones
ISBN10: 0807126896, ISBN13: 9780807126899

Jean-Charles Houzeau (1820-1888)

Edited by David C. Rankin
Translated by Gerard F. Denault

When Belgian scientist Jean-Charles Houzeau arrived in New Orleans in 1857, he was disturbed that America, founded on the principle of freedom, still tolerated the institution of slavery. In late 1864, he became managing editor of the New Orleans Tribune, the first black daily newspaper published in the United States. Ardently sympathetic to the plight of Louisiana’s black population and reveling in the fact that his dark complexion led many people to assume he was black himself, Houzeau passionately embraced his role as the Tribune’s editor and principal writer. My Passage at the New Orleans “Tribune,” first published in Belgium in 1872, is Houzeau’s memoir of the four years he spent as both observer and participant in the drama of Reconstruction.

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The Bone People: A Novel (Hardcover Reissue)

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Oceania on 2013-02-25 03:40Z by Steven

The Bone People: A Novel (Hardcover Reissue)

LSU Press
April 2005
464 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807130728

Keri Hulme

  • Winner of The Booker Prize
  • The Pegasus Prize for Literature
  • The New Zealand Book Award for Fiction

Integrating both Māori myth and New Zealand reality, The Bone People became the most successful novel in New Zealand publishing history when it appeared in 1984. Set on the South Island beaches of New Zealand, a harsh environment, the novel chronicles the complicated relationships between three emotional outcasts of mixed European and Māori heritage. Kerewin Holmes is a painter and a loner, convinced that “to care for anything is to invite disaster.” Her isolation is disrupted one day when a six-year-old mute boy, Simon, breaks into her house. The sole survivor of a mysterious shipwreck, Simon has been adopted by a widower Māori factory worker, Joe Gillayley, who is both tender and horribly brutal toward the boy. Through shifting points of view, the novel reveals each character’s thoughts and feelings as they struggle with the desire to connect and the fear of attachment.

Compared to the works of James Joyce in its use of indigenous language and portrayal of consciousness,The Bone People captures the soul of New Zealand. After twenty years, it continues to astonish and enrich readers around the world.

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Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans

Posted in Books, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-02-24 16:25Z by Steven

Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans

LSU Press
January 2013
336 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
13 halftones, 2 maps
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807150146

Emily Epstein Landau
Department of History
University of Maryland, College Park

From 1897 to 1917 the red-light district of Storyville commercialized and even thrived on New Orleans’s longstanding reputation for sin and sexual excess. This notorious neighborhood, located just outside of the French Quarter, hosted a diverse cast of characters who reflected the cultural milieu and complex social structure of turn-of-the-century New Orleans, a city infamous for both prostitution and interracial intimacy. In particular, Lulu White—a mixed-race prostitute and madam—created an image of herself and marketed it profitably to sell sex with light-skinned women to white men of means. In Spectacular Wickedness, Emily Epstein Landau examines the social history of this famed district within the cultural context of developing racial, sexual, and gender ideologies and practices.

Storyville’s founding was envisioned as a reform measure, an effort by the city’s business elite to curb and contain prostitution—namely, to segregate it. In 1890, the Louisiana legislature passed the Separate Car Act, which, when challenged by New Orleans’s Creoles of color, led to the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896, constitutionally sanctioning the enactment of “separate but equal” laws. The concurrent partitioning of both prostitutes and blacks worked only to reinforce Storyville’s libidinous license and turned sex across the color line into a more lucrative commodity.

By looking at prostitution through the lens of patriarchy and demonstrating how gendered racial ideologies proved crucial to the remaking of southern society in the aftermath of the Civil War, Landau reveals how Storyville’s salacious and eccentric subculture played a significant role in the way New Orleans constructed itself during the New South era.

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Nella Larsen, Novelist of the Harlem Renaissance: A Woman’s Life Unveiled

Posted in Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs on 2012-05-13 02:49Z by Steven

Nella Larsen, Novelist of the Harlem Renaissance: A Woman’s Life Unveiled

Louisiana State University Press
1994
496 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
12 halftones
Paperback ISBN: 9780807120705

Thadious M. Davis, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought; Professor of English
University of Pennsylvania

Nella Larsen (1891–1964) is recognized as one of the most influential, and certainly one of the most enigmatic, writers of the Harlem Renaissance. With the instant success of her two novels, Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929), she became a bright light in New York’s literary firmament. But her meteoric rise was followed by a surprising fall: In 1930 she was accused of plagiarizing a short story, and soon thereafter she disappeared from both the literary and African American worlds of New York. She lived the rest of her life—more than three decades—out of the public eye, working primarily as a nurse. In a remarkable achievement, Thadious Davis has penetrated the fog of mystery that has surrounded Larsen to present a detailed and fascinating account of the life and work of this gifted, determined, yet vulnerable artist. Davis deftly situates the writer within the broader politics and aesthetics of the Harlem Renaissance and analyzes her life and work in terms of the current literature on race and gender.

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Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, History, Louisiana, United States on 2012-04-04 20:37Z by Steven

Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization

LSU Press
September 1992
352 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780807117743

Edited by:

Arnold R. Hirsch, University Research Professor of History
University of New Orleans

Joseph Logsdon

This collection of six original essays explores the peculiar ethnic composition and history of New Orleans, which the authors persuasively argue is unique among American cities. The focus of Creole New Orleans is on the development of a colonial Franco-African culture in the city, the ways that culture was influenced by the arrival of later immigrants, and the processes that led to the eventual dominance of the Anglo-American community.

Essays in the book’s first section focus not only on the formation of the curiously blended Franco-African culture but also on how that culture, once established, resisted change and allowed New Orleans to develop along French and African creole lines until the early nineteenth century. Jerah Johnson explores the motives and objectives of Louisiana’s French founders, giving that issue the most searching analysis it has yet received. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, in her account of the origins of New Orleans’ free black population, offers a new approach to the early history of Africans in colonial Louisiana.

The second part of the book focuses on the challenge of incorporating New Orleans into the United States. As Paul F. LaChance points out, the French immigrants who arrived after the Louisiana Purchase slowed the Americanization process by preserving the city’s creole culture. Joesph Tregle then presents a clear, concise account of the clash that occurred between white creoles and the many white Americans who during the 1800s migrated to the city. His analysis demonstrates how race finally brought an accommodation between the white creole and American leaders.

The third section centers on the evolution of the city’s race relations during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Joseph Logsdon and Caryn Cossé Bell begin by tracing the ethno-cultural fault line that divided black Americans and creole through Reconstruction and the emergence of Jim Crow. Arnold R. Hirsch pursues the themes discerned by Logsdon and Bell from the turn of the century to the 1980s, examining the transformation of the city’s racial politics.

Collectively, these essays fill a major void in Louisiana history while making a significant contribution to the history of urbanization, ethnicity, and race relations. The book will serve as a cornerstone for future study of the history of New Orleans.

Table of Contents

  • Part I: The French and African Founders
    • Introduction
    • 1. Colonial New Orleans: A Fragment of the Eighteenth-Century French Ethos; Jerah Hohnson
    • 2. The Formation of Afro-Creole Culture; Gwendolyn Midlo Hall
  • Part II: The American Challenge
    • Introduction
    • 3. The Foreign French; Paul F. Lachance
    • 4. Creoles and Americans; Joseph G. Tregle, Jr.
  • Part III: Franco-Africans and African Americans
    • Introduction
    • 5. The Americanization of Black New Orleans, 1850-1900; Joseph Logsdon and Caryn Cossé Bell
    • 6. Simply a Matter of Black and White: The Transformation of Race and Politics in Twentieth-Century New Orleans; Arnold R. Hirsch
  • Contributors
  • Index
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