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

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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, 300,000 or more people became slaves there in all but name. Urchins were swept up from London's streets to labour in the tobacco fields, where life expectancy was no more than two years. Brothels were raided to provide 'breeders' for Virginia. Hopeful migrants were duped into signing as indentured servants, unaware they'd become chattels who could be bought, sold and even gambled away. Transported convicts were paraded for sale like livestock. Drawing on letters crying for help, diaries, court and government archives, Jordan and Walsh demonstrate that the brutalities usually associated with black slavery alone were perpetrated on whites throughout British rule. The trade ended with American independence, but the British still tried to sell convicts in their former colonies, which prompted one of the most audacious plots in Anglo-American history. This is a saga of exploitation and cruelty spanning 170 years that has been submerged under the overwhelming memory of black slavery. White Cargo brings the brutal, uncomfortable story to the surface.