Balancing Evils Judiciously: The Proslavery Writings of Zephaniah Kingsley

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2011-09-02 20:38Z by Steven

Balancing Evils Judiciously: The Proslavery Writings of Zephaniah Kingsley

University Press of Florida
160 pages
6 x 9
Cloth: ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-1733-4 ISBN 10: 0-8130-1733-5
Paper: ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-2117-1 ISBN 10: 0-8130-2117-0

Edited and Annotated by

Daniel W. Stowell, Director & Editor
The Papers of Abraham Lincoln

Foreword by Eugene Genovese

For the first time, all the proslavery—but also pro-black—writings of Zephaniah Kingsley (1765-1843) appear together in one volume. Kingsley was a slave trader and the owner of a large plantation near Jacksonville in what was then Spanish East Florida. He married one of his slaves and had children with several others.

While Kingsley eventually emancipated all of his children and their mothers, he became alarmed at the deteriorating status of free blacks after Florida became a territory in 1821. His unusual protest of their treatment, “A Treatise on the Patriarchal System of Society [,as it exists in some governments and colonies in America, and in the United States, under the name of slavery: with its necessity and advantages (1833)],” called for a three-caste society that separated race and class. He envisioned a buffer caste of free people of color between whites and enslaved blacks, but united with whites by economic interests. The treatise simultaneously upheld the legitimacy and necessity of slavery yet assaulted the white southern premise of abject black inferiority.

Daniel Stowell carefully assembles all of Kingsley’s writings on race and slavery to illuminate the evolution of his thought. The intriguing hybrid text of the four editions of the treatise clearly identifies both subtle and substantial differences among the editions. Other extensively annotated documents show how Kingsley’s interracial family and his experiences in various slaveholding societies in the Caribbean and South America influenced his thinking on race, class, and slavery.

In despair of ever changing the slaveholding patterns of Florida, Kingsley finally settled his mixed-race children and several of his slaves in Haiti; however, he left behind more than 80 of his slaves to work his plantations in Florida. When he died, these African Americans remained in bondage, unfortunate victims of hardening American racial attitudes and of Kingsley’s effort to “balance evils judiciously.”

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Hybridity in Cooper, Mitchell and Randall: Erasures, Rewritings, and American Historical Mythology

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery on 2010-12-18 04:05Z by Steven

Hybridity in Cooper, Mitchell and Randall: Erasures, Rewritings, and American Historical Mythology

McGill University, Montreal
Department of English
August, 2004
86 pages

Marie Thormodsgard

Submitted in partial fulfillment for a Masters degree in English

This thesis starts with an overview of the historical record tied to the birth of a new nation studied by Alexis de Tocqueville and Henry Steele Commager. It singles out the works of Henry Nash Smith and Eugene D. Genovese for an understanding, respectively, of the “myth of the frontier” tied to the conquest of the American West and the “plantation myth” that sustained slavery in the American South. Both myths underlie the concept of hybridity or cross-cultural relations in America. This thesis is concerned with the representation or lack of representation of hybridity and the roles played by female characters in connection with the land in two seminal American novels and their film versions—James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind—and Alice Randall’s rewriting of Mitchell’s novel, The Wind Done Gone, as a point of contrast. Hybridity is represented in the mixed-race bodies of these characters. Mitchell’s novel, and its film version in particular, create images which, according to bell hooks, “in the space of popular media culture black people in the U.S. and black people globally often look at [them]selves through images, through eyes that are unable to truly recognize [them], so that [they] are not represented as [them]selves but seen through the lens of the oppressor” (Yearning 155). I analyze how this “lens” has created a selective American cultural memory that leaves out the syncretism that is part of the American historical record and privileges the fostering of notions ofracial “purity.” My overall argument links the recurrent patterns of destruction visited on the hybrid bodies of mixed-race females with the destruction of the environment. This thesis demonstrates how literary and cinematic representations in American popular culture siphon lived history into cultural memory through the use and misuse of the hybrid female body.

The first chapter addresses James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans; concentrating on the characterization of Cora, who in the text is of mixed Caribbean ancestry, and is sacrificed for the “pure” American ideal to develop. The 1992 film version, however, erases Cora’s mixed-ethnicity and sacrifice while she still stands for the figure of the frontier heroine. The second chapter focuses on Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind and the 1939 film version. While Mitchell does not directly confront the issue of racial mixing, the Reconstruction half of the text portrays the Klu Klux Klan as resulting from a fear of white women and former slaves reproducing and therefore is representative of the South’s mythology and identity politics. The film erases Mitchell’s single hybrid character, Dylcie, and all references to hybridization and the KKK. The third chapter concentrates on Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone, which deconstructs the racial markers of polarized pigmentations in the original text. Essentially, Randall’s novel brings out what was left out of both Mitchell’s novel and its film version: the distorted notion of racial “purity” among slaves and slaveowners.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans
  • Chapter Two: Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
  • Chapter Three: Randall’s The Wind Done Gone
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited

Read the entire thesis here.

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