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Williams’ Gang: A Notorious Slave Trader and His Cargo of Black Convicts by Jeff Forret (review)

Williams’ Gang: A Notorious Slave Trader and His Cargo of Black Convicts by Jeff Forret (review) book revi ews Williams’ Gang: A Notorious Slave Trader and His Cargo of Black Convicts. By Jeff Forret. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020. Pp. 470. Cloth, $29.95.) On October 31, 1840, the steamer Roanoke disembarked more than two dozen enslaved people and the slave trader William H. Williams at Port Pontchartrain, Louisiana, where they boarded a train bound for New Orleans’s Mississippi River waterfront. As they transited the Crescent City, however, a municipal official arrested Williams and confis - cated the bondspeople he drove before him. Williams was well known in New Orleans, having sold hundreds of men and women there in recent years. But this group differed markedly from his previous shipments: the Commonwealth of Virginia had convicted all its members of capital crimes, sparing them execution only on the condition that Williams sell them outside of the United States. Williams protested that he was merely passing through New Orleans en route to Texas. Even had city leaders accepted his claims (and many did not), Williams had still violated an 1817 law banning the importation of criminals. His conviction—the first ever under this statute—sparked a multidecade legal battle over his guilt and the money embodied in the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of the Civil War Era University of North Carolina Press

Williams’ Gang: A Notorious Slave Trader and His Cargo of Black Convicts by Jeff Forret (review)

The Journal of the Civil War Era , Volume 11 (1) – Feb 24, 2021

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright @ The University of North Carolina Press
ISSN
2159-9807

Abstract

book revi ews Williams’ Gang: A Notorious Slave Trader and His Cargo of Black Convicts. By Jeff Forret. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020. Pp. 470. Cloth, $29.95.) On October 31, 1840, the steamer Roanoke disembarked more than two dozen enslaved people and the slave trader William H. Williams at Port Pontchartrain, Louisiana, where they boarded a train bound for New Orleans’s Mississippi River waterfront. As they transited the Crescent City, however, a municipal official arrested Williams and confis - cated the bondspeople he drove before him. Williams was well known in New Orleans, having sold hundreds of men and women there in recent years. But this group differed markedly from his previous shipments: the Commonwealth of Virginia had convicted all its members of capital crimes, sparing them execution only on the condition that Williams sell them outside of the United States. Williams protested that he was merely passing through New Orleans en route to Texas. Even had city leaders accepted his claims (and many did not), Williams had still violated an 1817 law banning the importation of criminals. His conviction—the first ever under this statute—sparked a multidecade legal battle over his guilt and the money embodied in the

Journal

The Journal of the Civil War EraUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Feb 24, 2021

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