Securing the “Interests” of the South: John Mitchel, A.G. Magrath, and the Reopening of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

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Abstract

Traditionally scholars have downplayed the importance of southern calls to reopen the transatlantic slave trade in the 1850s. Those who have paid serious attention to this effort see it as another endeavor by aristocratic planters to enshrine their social, economic, and political power in the antebellum South. The advocates were, as one puts it, “no champions of the common white man.” Two Irish-American leaders who supported the reopening, John Mitchel and Andrew Gordon Magrath, complicate this view of the attempt as just a planters’ plot. Their actions and opinions indicate that some proponents did see importing African slaves as something that would benefit all whites and not just the elite, and, as a result, protect the overall “interests” of the South. Mitchel and Magrath's support of Ireland and Irish immigrants and their opposition to British power influenced their positions on the matter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-297
JournalAmerican Nineteenth Century History
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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