Ploughshares into Swords

Ploughshares into Swords : Race, Rebellion, and Identity in Gabriel's Virginia, 1730-1810

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During the summer of 1800, slaves in and around Richmond conspired to overthrow their masters and abolish slavery. This book uses Gabriel's Conspiracy, and the evidence produced during the repression of the revolt, to expose the processes through which Virginians of African descent built an oppositional culture. Sidbury portrays the rich cultures of eighteenth-century black Virginians, and the multiple, and sometimes conflicting, senses of identity that emerged among enslaved and free people living in and around the rapidly growing state capital. The book also examines the conspirators' vision of themselves as God's chosen people, and the complicated African and European roots of their culture. In so doing, it offers an alternative interpretation of the meaning of the Virginia that was home to so many of the Founding Fathers. This narrative focuses on the history and perspectives of black and enslaved people, in order to develop 'Gabriel's Virginia' as a counterpoint to more common discussions of 'Jeffersonian Virginia'.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 5 b/w illus. 5 maps 6 tables
  • 1139243969
  • 9781139243964

Table of contents

Introduction; Acknowledgments; Prologue: from blacks in Virginia to black Virginians; 1. The emergence of racial consciousness in eighteenth-century Virginia; Part I. Cultural Progress: Creolization, Appropriation, and Collective Identity in Gabriel's Virginia: 2. Forging an oppositional culture: Gabriel's conspiracy and the process of cultural appropriation; 3. Individualism, community, and identity in Gabriel's conspiracy; 4. Making sense of Gabriel's conspiracy: immediate responses to the conspiracy; Part II. Social Practice: Urbanization, Commercialization, and Identity in the Daily Life of Gabriel's Richmond: 5. The growth of early Richmond; 6. Labor, race, and identity in early Richmond; 7. Race and constructions of gender in early Richmond; Epilogue: Gabriel and Richmond in historical and fictional time; 8. Gabriel's Conspiracy in memory and fiction; Appendix; more

Review quote

"...[a] well-researched and clearly written study....Sidbury draws heavily from primary sources and his study is thoroughly documented....Highly recommended." Choice "....offers a series of analyses--detailed, intelligent, sophisticated, and cogent--of a number of important questions that the Gabriel incident both highlights and illuminates....excellent work, with its abundant citations...." The North Carolina Historical Review "James Sidbury's Ploughshares into Swords offers some interesting new perspectives on a well-known event - Gabriel's Rebellion - and some equally useful insights into Richmond's black community in the post-revolutionary era. He offers new and daring interpretations of information in the records, especially his account of how black Virginians turned the culture of the Virginia elite upside down by approaching some of its symbols for revolutionay purposes." Gregg D. Kimball, The Virginia Magazine of History & Biography "...his detailed and suggestive monograph will be useful to subsequent authors who share his commitment `to contextualize'(p. 3)." Peter H. Wood, William & Mary Quarterly "In bringing the study of African American slavery to the community level, Sidbury has also presented a model that will surely inspire future scholarship." Diane Barnes, Southern Historian "...why do we have another book on [this] subject? The answer is because James Sidbury does something different." Donald R. Wright, American Historical Review "James Sidbury's Ploughshares into Swords is one of the best local studies of postrevolutionary Virginia, and particularly Richmond, around." The Journal of American History, Bloomington, IL "...Sidbury pans nuggets of gold from surviving anecdotal evidence about Gabriel's contemporaries...this book succeeds marvelously...well organized, well-written, and carefully reasoned, Ploughshares into Swords manages to stand above a crowded field to make original observations about Gabriel and his world." Joseph P. Reidy, Journal of Interdisciplinary History "Ploughshares into Swords, in addition to providing provocative reading, fills a significant gap in the historiography of the colonial and subsequent African American experience. It should prove to be a catalyst for further research on this important topic." Journal of American Ethnic History "...a valuable new study of black identity in the Atlantic world." The Journal of Southern Historyshow more

Rating details

19 ratings
3.57 out of 5 stars
5 16% (3)
4 42% (8)
3 32% (6)
2 5% (1)
1 5% (1)
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