Or as you could also term it, the memoirs of Jefferson Davis. And it’s tedious, no doubt about it. With occasional little nuggets. He’s adamant that secession was the right of any and every state, obviously. And one can see interesting little parallels as to how Brussels would react if an EU member decided in 2080 or so that they think they’d really rather like to leave.
However, the one that got me was an odd fact. I think I had known, maybe, that the US banned slave importation in 1808 or thereabouts. There was smuggling but not all that much. And that some 450k Africans were imported. Which, by the time of the civil war, had led to a population of 4 million or so slaves (to which, presumably, one should add whatever number of free blacks there were). And that’s without any further importation (or immigration, obviously) after 1808.
And here’s what surprised me. Davis talks about the massive increase in the slave population, showing that said chattel slavery was very much milder than than that of other forms of it that history records elsewhere. And looking it up there seems to have been a 30% increase per decade in that slave population. Which for a pre-modern population is something of a population boom, isn’t it? Certainly in 18th century Britain urban populations didn’t even reproduce themselves, not sure if that was also true of the first half of the 19th.
So slaves were very definitely at well above subsistence level.
While Davis obviously thinks this worth mentioning as an apologia of sorts, no, I do not think that getting that second bowl of gruel a day is worth the horrors of chattel slavery. But there obviously was something different about American slavery: the African population of the British Caribbean islands nowhere near managed to replace itself while still in slavery, let alone show those sorts of growth rates (no, not even on Barbuda, essentially a stud farm run by the Codringtons).
Anyone got any references to more on this? Because it wouldn’t (probably because I don’t know all that much about the subject) surprise me, given that expansion, to find that this increase was larger than that of the white population at the time: sans immigration, of course.