Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stono edited by Mark Smith~★★★★★

Editor: Mark Smith
Title: Stono: Documenting and Interpreting a Southern Slave Revolt
Release Date: November 17th, 2005
Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
Genre: Non-Fiction

Book Cover: "In the Fall of 1739, as many as one hundred enslaved African and African Americans living southwest of Charleston joined forces to strike down their white owners and march en masse toward Spanish Florida and freedom. More than sixty whites and thirty slaves died in the violence that followed. Among the most important slave revolts in colonial America, the Stono Rebellion also ranks as South Carolina's largest slave insurrection and one of the bloodiest uprisings in American history. Significant for the fear it cast among lowcountry slaveholders and for the repressive slave laws enacted in its wake, Stono continues to attract scholarly attention as a historical event worthy of study and reinterpretation. Stono: Documenting and Interpreting a Southern Slave Revolt introduces readers to the documents needed to understand both the revolt and the ongoing discussion among scholars about the legacy of the insurrection.
Mark M. Smith has assembled a compendium of materials necessary for an informed examination of the revolt. Primary documents---including some works previously unpublished and largely unknown even to specialists---offer accounts of the violence, discussions of Stono's impact on white sensibilities, and public records relating incidents of the uprising. To these primary sources Smith adds three divergent interpretations that expand on Peter H. Wood's pioneering study Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. Excerpts from works by John K. Thornton, Edward A. Pearson, and Smith himself reveal how historians have used some of the same documents to construct radically different interpretations of the revolt's causes, meaning, and effects."

Taryn's Review: Since I am working on a master's degree in history, I often get asked by people what historians do. If I had the ability to make people read a book to better understand what historians do, this book would be it.

I love what Smith did with the book. He gave the reader 15 surviving documents that relate to the Stono Rebellion. You read them and reflect. Smith next gave the reader 4 essays to read by historians Wood, Thornton, Pearson, and Smith himself. Each historian showed how they used the documents to interpret the event, each in a different way. Wood was the pioneering historian in giving agency to the the enslaved perspective in the rebellion. Thornton's essay suggested the enslaved may have been of Kongolese background and how that ethnic background may have shaped the rebellion. Pearson analyzed how gender roles could have affected the rebellion, and Smith explored the role of the Virgin Mary in the rebellion. Each view was unique, yet they built off other historians' works while incorporating their own specialties to provide a new perspective for the event.

This was a relatively short book (123 pages) and one that is really easy to read. Obviously if someone has no interest in history, they should avoid this book at all costs. But I would challenge anyone who has an interest in history, South Carolina, colonial America, or the institution of slavery to give the book a try. It really an awesome book that might surprise you...or even make history cool for some! Lol, that might be a stretch, I know!

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