White Slaves, African Masters: An Anthology of American Barbary Captivity Narratives

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Paul Baepler
University of Chicago Press, May 15, 1999 - Biography & Autobiography - 310 pages
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Some of the most popular stories in nineteenth-century America were sensational tales of whites captured and enslaved in North Africa. White Slaves, African Masters for the first time gathers together a selection of these Barbary captivity narratives, which significantly influenced early American attitudes toward race, slavery, and nationalism.

Though Barbary privateers began to seize North American colonists as early as 1625, Barbary captivity narratives did not begin to flourish until after the American Revolution. During these years, stories of Barbary captivity forced the U.S. government to pay humiliating tributes to African rulers, stimulated the drive to create the U.S. Navy, and brought on America's first post-revolutionary war. These tales also were used both to justify and to vilify slavery.

The accounts collected here range from the 1798 tale of John Foss, who was ransomed by Thomas Jefferson's administration for tribute totaling a sixth of the annual federal budget, to the story of Ion Perdicaris, whose (probably staged) abduction in Tangier in 1904 prompted Theodore Roosevelt to send warships to Morocco and inspired the 1975 film The Wind and the Lion. Also included is the unusual story of Robert Adams, a light-skinned African American who was abducted by Arabs and used by them to hunt negro slaves; captured by black villagers who presumed he was white; then was sold back to a group of Arabs, from whom he was ransomed by a British diplomat.

Long out of print and never before anthologized, these fascinating tales open an entirely new chapter of early American literary history, and shed new light on the more familiar genres of Indian captivity narrative and American slave narrative.

"Baepler has done American literary and cultural historians a service by collecting these long-out-of-print Barbary captivity narratives . . . . Baepler's excellent introduction and full bibliography of primary and secondary sources greatly enhance our knowledge of this fascinating genre."—Library Journal

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Baepler (Univ. of Minnesota) has done American literary and cultural historians a service by collecting these long-out-of-print Barbary captivity narratives. These accounts of persons captured by ... Read full review


Cotton Mather The Glory of Goodness
James Leander Cathcart The Captives Eleven Years in Algiers
Maria Martin History of the Captivity and Sufferings of Mrs Maria Martin
William Ray Horrors of Slavery
Robert Adams The Narrative of Robert Adams
Eliza Bradley An Authentic Narrative
Ion H Perdicaris InRaissulis Hands
Appendix Publishing History of the American Barbary Captivity Narrative

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About the author (1999)

Paul Baepler serves as a Research Fellow in the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI) at the University of Minnesota. His role is to investigate the efficacy of educational innovations in the classroom and elsewhere in higher education. Paul earned his Ph.D. in American literature and his book, "White Slaves, African Masters, " (U of Chicago Press, 1999) explores the little-known Barbary captivity narrative. His work has appeared in a variety of journals including "Computers and Education, the Journal of College Science Teaching, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, the Journal of Faculty Development, " and "The New England Quarterly. " Along with Brooks and Walker of this volume, he co-edited the Active Learning Spaces volume (#137) of "New Directions for Teaching and Learning. " Previously at the University, he worked at the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Digital Media Center; and he is the faculty director for test preparation in the College of Continuing Education.

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