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Cruel Embrace: War and Slavery in the Texas Borderlands, 1700-1840

  • Author(s): Flomen, Max
  • Advisor(s): Aron, Stephen A
  • et al.

This dissertation examines the role of slaving during the encounter between indigenous societies and Euro-American empires in the Texas borderlands from 1700 to 1840. Historians have generally overlooked the structures that bound continental and Atlantic slave systems together. In this multipolar borderland pastoral and plantation modes of production conflicted and comingled, drawing all participants into a “cruel embrace” rife with possibilities for exploitation, destruction, and reinvention. Indigenous war leaders, Euro-American traders, and captives of all nations made their own histories of enslavement and abolition. The dissertation charts the formation of French and Spanish colonies in Louisiana and Texas during the eighteenth century, where forced, long-distance transfers placed indigenous and African populations into plantation and mission regimes. Slaving figured prominently in the confrontation of these band societies and European empires, and captives themselves assumed significant roles during a period of protracted inter-cultural warfare. Following Mexican independence in 1821, the arrival of Native American and Anglo-American colonists introduced new contenders for control of land and labour in this fractious borderland. During the ensuing conflicts of the 1830s and 1840s, new multi-ethnic cohorts emerged to contest the expansion of plantation slavery.

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