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Displacing Captives in Colonial South Carolina: Native American Enslavement and the Rise of the Colonial State after the Yamasee War

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The Yamasee War was a watershed moment in the history of colonial South Carolina. The trade in captive Native Americans through Charles Town was much lower after the war, but did not stop. Continuities across this rupture included captives coming into possession of the colony through the same mechanisms as before the war: as diplomatic gifts, as captives taken in warfare, or as traded commodities. While the liberalized and chaotic trade in captive Native Americans was a concern for colonial officials before the Yamasee War, after the outbreak of war, planters, who controlled of the assembly, made it official policy to remove all Native American captives coming into the colony from the continent, with a few notable exceptions. The main change in how the captive trade worked came with the colonial government’s moves to stand as arbiter over what captives could come into the colony and then force colonists to sell the captives to other colonies. The Native American captive trade therefore became an important site of colonial state-building in the period between 1715 and 1735.

Affiliations: 1: Rice University, Houston, Texas


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