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White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  193 ratings  ·  39 reviews
White Cargo is the forgotten story of the thousands of Britons who lived and died in bondage in Britain s American colonies.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, more than 300,000 white people were shipped to America as slaves. Urchins were swept up from London s streets to labor in the tobacco fields, where life expectancy was no more than two years. Brothels were
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2008 by New York University Press (first published February 28th 2008)
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Amanda Pack According to the Introduction, America was the original recipient of criminals and vagrants. It was not until after the Revolution, according to…moreAccording to the Introduction, America was the original recipient of criminals and vagrants. It was not until after the Revolution, according to Jordan and Walsh, that English prisoners would be sent to Australia. (pg 16)(less)
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Petra X
May 16, 2015 Petra X marked it as books-to-read-i-own-ma
What slavery is about and always was, is getting someone's services for nothing either for personal use or for commercial purposes or both. It has nothing to do with colour.

However, Black slavery in the US/Caribbean was the organised use of humans as work-animals on a scale never before seen and it deserves to be treated separately from African slavery (where the slaves were of course bought from, not captured by whites as some would like to have it, but purchased, like any other goods). But, b
Every time I think I have a fairly reasonable understanding of American history, a book like this comes along and makes me feel gloriously ignorant. This is a fantastically detailed history of white indentured servitude in the early colonial period. Needless to say, it wasn't at all like we were taught in school and astonishingly brutal. I don't want to give away the ending, but I do want to say that I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.
Robert Owen
“White Cargo” is the history of pre-Revolutionary white indentured servitude in North America. It is a story that is as unloved and it is, unlovely; yet Jordan and Walsh bring the institution, its victims and its compelling consequences to life in this fascinating, layman-friendly read.

Beginning with the story of Jamestown’s founding in 1607, the authors recount how, over a century and a half, wave after wave of various cohorts of people were transported as a cheap, convenient labor source to t
I remember learning about indentured servants while in high school, never thinking beyond the assistance given to people who wanted to reach America in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. So they paid for their passage by working off their seven years to their sponsers. So what, young Barbara Nathalie probably thought. They were lucky to get here, avoiding starvation and the lack of opportunity in the British Isles. After all, they weren't like the blacks who could never even hope for anything ...more
Kathleen Riley-Daniels
White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America was a good resource for my research into the connection between Britain and Barbados.

I'm currently piecing together the story of my 8th great-grandfather and his journey from Lord of the Manor to slave on a sugar plantation in Barbados to land owner in the USA. It was quite an adventure, and I am reading lots of books about the white slave trade.

As a child, I recall learning about slaves being kidnapped from their native l
H Wesselius
The indentured servant trade of colonial America is often overlooked and Jordan's White Cargo does an excellent of correcting this oversight. In this well detailed recounting of this barely mentioned past, the nature and origin of American slavery can be seen beyond the color line. Within all the detail, the legal framework which allowed indentured service to become near slavery is shown to provide the foundation when the African slaves first arrived. Two things are missing -- a better explorati ...more
Ed Hillenbrand
Some people talk of hating all people equally, the English of the 17th and 18th century lived it. They kidnapped and sold into slavery their own children! The “Powers That Be” at this time were mean spirited, miserable wretches that in fact did enslave many from the British Isles. This book gives some frightening statistics and the method of operandi of those who committed these heinous crimes, from Cromwell to the meanest street thug. A must read for anyone going to teach about colonial America ...more
Paul Brandel
This was an eye-opening history book,about white slavery in America.I learned alot about the so-called endentured servants.Make no mistake they were slaves.They were treated miserably and many died before their 4-7 years of bondage were up.How the British authories were so damn cold harded to the poor not only in Ireland and Scotland,but to their fellow women,men and children.
Loved the writers accounts on Peter Williamson,a 13 deceived to go on an exciting adventure.He nearly lost his life beca
Another book I'm reading for my US history paper that I'm writing about Colonial America use of convicts as indentured servants or white slavery. The previous two books I've read on the subject was Emigrants in Chains and Bound for America. I found this book to repeat some of the same things brought up in the other ones, but I would prefer this one over the others in that the depth in which he does to explaining situations. For example, in Bound for America Ekirch stated a case where a convict h ...more
Simon Wood

Two journalists, Don Jordan and Michael Walsh, have written an account of what they call "The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America". "Forgotten" is over-stating the case somewhat as a number of books on Colonial-era America and indeed on Slavery have previously covered this subject. Indeed the lengthy and decent bibliography at the end of the book is testament to this, including such books as Edmund Morgan's "American Slavery, American Freedom" and Peter Kolchin's
Terry Lloyd
White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves is a thorough detailed account of the misery and depth of inhumanity metered out to the poor and vulnerable white citizens of Great Britain in the past. It should be noted that slavery in various forms is still present in the UK and throughout the World. Colour should not be a debating point as to which slaves suffer the most. I was once berated by a coloured gentleman that my forefathers had made his slaves. This book does show a more ...more
Tom Johnson
notable hidden history - given the historical brutality of both the English and our own elite it is small wonder that we have developed a criminal "justice" system that leads the world in incarcerating such a high percentage of our people - the same motive down through the years, profit, bloody profit - the attitudes of civic leaders of the colonial times varies little with those of today - poverty = moral turpitude, the poor never had it so good, and worse - 1620 through 1820 (1820s before whit ...more
Really enjoyed this book. I got it because I suspect one of my mom's ancestor's was an indentured servant (traced him back to service in the American Revolution but can find nothing prior to that) and expected the usual dry history book. I was wrong. This is a very readable history book, and I couldn't put it down. If you enjoy learning about the past, then you'll love this book.

Note:when I checked out the reviews for this book on Amazon, I was amazed at the number of reviews from people who did
Caribbean Lgbt
Mar 04, 2014 Caribbean Lgbt marked it as to-read
American chattel slavery did not begin with a racial hierarchy, it was about financial opportunity - all people were enslaved during the colonial era - whites without means were slaves like any other cargo!
Interesting information about the slavery euphemistically known as indentured servitude but dry... Better for research than for reading;-)
Good information; kept falling asleep while reading it. Partially my fault though.
I thought one of his quotations was odd, so I flipped to the back to check the source, and was ... confused.... because he seems to have based most of his work on 19th century secondary sources and Howard Zinn. And at one point, the "Penguin History of the United States of America." I'm going to find another book about this subject.
Taul Pardie
The title should read "Indentured Servants in America" so as not to invoke the shit storm of people calling it revisionist history. If anything it's a great book on the subject of slavery in the colonies and the early days of the U.S. As always, read with a critical eye.
Enid Cavallaro
I found this book fascinating, I thought I knew a lot about American history, but had never come across most of this information. The book was a little dry to read, a lot of facts and figures, but there were enough personal anecdotes and history to make it worth while
This is an excellent primer on white slavery in the early days of the United States. The various plans by which England got rid of its criminals and dissenters sent thousands of "free" Englishmen and women to serve on the tobacco plantations of the South, and in the sugar cane fields of Barbados. The ethnic cleansing of Ireland provided more labor, much of which died either aboard the ships on their way across the Atlantic, or under the harsh conditions of life. Most interesting was the relation ...more
Whitney Hassell
This book should be required reading in schools. This book gives and easy-to-follow, accurate, balanced account of indentured servitude and slavery, both black and white, started in 16th century Britain and played out in the American colonies. I learned a great deal from this book (white slaves arrived in America months before African slaves did, and the first person to enslave another for life was a black man enslaving another black man), and I believe everyone should give it a read. It's a lit ...more
Tony Sims
An excellent primer on white slavery in the early days of the United States. The various plans by which England got rid of its criminals and dissenters sent thousands of "free" Englishmen and women to serve on the tobacco plantations of the South, and in the sugar cane fields of Barbados. The ethnic cleansing of Ireland provided more labor, much of which died either aboard the ships on their way across the Atlantic, or under the harsh conditions of life. Most interesting was the relationship of ...more
Mike Stoller
It was an interesting historical account of white servitude in the Americas and the commercialism of England to profit from shipping convicts and other undesirables to the colonies. While undoubtedly shedding some light on the case that slavery was driven by economics and not race until early 1800s, ( and even then it was an changing economic issue which focused on Africans) I found the book repetitive and not entirely clear in the relative numbers of white slavery vs blacks. It felt like the au ...more

Really informative read! This book provides great perspective on how things just don't come out of nothing - slavery, in this case. A couple hundred years of using indentured servants from England, Ireland, Scotland, as the primary labor force created social, economic, and legal precedent for the foundations of slavery...

This book did a great job of telling a story over 300 years while focussing on a number of characters and weaving in personal accounts from letters and law cases.

My favorite his
Eye-opening account of the real story behind indentured servitude and the transportation of convicts to colonial America. I was taught about indentured servants in history class but didn't understand that these folks were really slaves and did not always get their freedom and some land to farm after their 7 (or 14) years were up. I thought I knew most things about American history but these stories were never taught in school.
Mikey Connor
An interesting view into the slave trade of early America and how it evolved into the racist slave trade that comes to mind when American slavery is mentioned.
It was eye-opening in how badly things were for the indentured servents. The author shows how the treatment of the indentured servant mirrored black slavery. In fact blacks and whites were treated the same but, over time things change and blacks became enslaved for a lifetime. It is quite a different look at our land of "liberty".
Tony Howard
A lot of good information,but reads a lot like a text book. I must admit I learned quite a bit from this book. If you are interested in the subject it is worth the effort.
Definitely interesting if you like history.
A good look into further dark sides of early America. The hypocrisy of Europe and how they react to slavery is further proven by this book as they provided the slaves and the way of life. Only this time it was white slaves, which according to the history shown, predated the African slave trade.
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