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The World That Fear Made
- Slave Revolts and Conspiracy Scares in Early America (Early American Studies)
- Narrated by: Jonathan Salkoff
- Length: 11 hrs and 4 mins
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From the Stono Rebellion in 1739 to the Haitian Revolution of 1791 to Nat Turner's Rebellion in 1831, slave insurrections have been understood as emblematic rejections of enslavement, the most powerful and, perhaps, the only way for slaves to successfully challenge the brutal system they endured. In The World That Fear Made, Jason T. Sharples orients the mirror to those in power who were preoccupied with their exposure to insurrection. Because enslavers in British North America and the Caribbean methodically terrorized slaves and anticipated just vengeance, colonial officials consolidated their regime around the dread of rebellion.
Mining archival records, Sharples shows how colonists from New York to Barbados tortured slaves to solicit confessions of baroque plots that were strikingly consistent across places and periods. Informants claimed that conspirators took direction from foreign agents; timed alleged rebellions for a holiday such as Easter; planned to set fires that would make it easier to ambush White people in the confusion; and coordinated the uprising with European or Native American invasion forces. Yet, as Sharples demonstrates, these scripted accounts rarely resembled what enslaved rebels actually did when they took up arms. Ultimately, he argues, conspiracy scares locked colonists and slaves into a cycle of terror that bound American society together through shared racial fear.
The book is published by University of Pennsylvania Press. The audiobook is published by University Press Audiobooks.
"Masterful.... That this book makes extremely significant contributions to scholarship understates the case." (Early American Literature)
"Thought-provoking, original, and engaging." (Justin Roberts, Dalhousie University)