The Untold Story of White Slavery in America



by Alex Gore

White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America, New York University Press, 2008.

I picked up White Cargo from an estate sale a couple months ago. I noted it in my post titled “Conspiracy Library”. I actually sat down and read it. White Cargo discusses white slavery of the time period from Britain’s first settlement in Jamestown during the early 17th century to America’s war with Britain during the late 18th century. The focus is mainly on Virginia and Maryland, where that form of slavery was the most pervasive.

Though what we were taught in school about the harsh treatment of black slaves was largely true, what was not mentioned were the many whites who were subject to the same treatment as well. This was totally omitted from our textbooks. White slaves (mainly British and Irish) were crammed on ships during transports, were auctioned off upon arrival, were subject to constant beatings and whipping while on the plantations, were malnourished, had few rights, and had their children taken away. Does this not sound similar to what we were taught about black slavery? Euphemistically white slavery was referred to as `indentured servitude’. Indentured servitude was in fact slavery. Many never lived to see freedom as they died either of disease or exhaustion before their time was up.


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