The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772–1832

Norton. 2013. 728p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393073713. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780393241426. HIST
OrangeReviewStarIn this well-written and engaging history, Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize winner Taylor (history, Univ. of California, Davis) zeros in on slavery in Virginia, particularly during the War of 1812, in the process revealing both the glaring hypocrisy of the Founders' views on slavery and the lengths to which they went to ensure control of the enslaved population. In engaging prose, Taylor presents the dynamic, cogent argument that for Southerners, their chattel represented a dangerous "fifth column" that, given the opportunity, would carry their "networks and nocturnal expertise" to invaders "enhancing their capacity to wage war in the Chesapeake." During the War of 1812, an alarming number of the "internal enemy" flocked to British camps, allowing the British to conduct raids deep into the Southern countryside.
VERDICT This is an accessible narrative of great scholarship that, similar to Maya Jasanoff's Liberty's Exiles, takes a new and distinct look at a topic of persistent attention. Writing with an understanding of his subject that is stunning to behold, Taylor again shows why he is the dean of early American history. A great work for early American history buffs and anyone interested in the evolution of slavery in America.
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