2017 Harriet Tubman Prize Finalists

The Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery is pleased to announce the finalists of the 2017 annual Harriet Tubman Prize. The prize of $7,500 is awarded to the best nonfiction book published in the United States on the slave trade, slavery, and anti-slavery in the Atlantic World.

A Readers Committee of scholars and librarians selected the three finalists: Matthew Karp for This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders At The Helm of American Foreign Policy; Wendy Warren for New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America, and David Wheat for Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640.

In This Vast Southern Empire, Matthew Karp demonstrates that slaveholding leaders’ “vast southern empire” was not an independent South but the entire United States, and only the election of Abraham Lincoln broke their grip on national power. Fortified by years at the helm of U.S. foreign affairs, slaveholding elites formed their own Confederacy—not only as a desperate effort to preserve their property but also as a confident bid to shape the future of the Atlantic world.

New England Bound links the growth of the northern colonies to the slave trade and examines the complicity of New England’s leading families, demonstrating how the region’s economy derived its vitality from the slave trading ships coursing through its ports. Wendy Warren explains the way in which the Atlantic slave trade drove the colonization of New England, and also brings to light, in many cases for the first time ever, the lives of the thousands of reluctant enslaved Indians and Africans who found themselves forced into the project of building that city on a hill.

David Wheat’s Atlantic Africa resituates the Spanish Caribbean as an extension of the Luso-African Atlantic world when the union of the Spanish and Portuguese crowns facilitated a surge in the transatlantic slave trade. After the catastrophic decline of Amerindian populations on the islands, Upper Guinea and then Angola, contributed forced migrant populations with distinct experiences to the Caribbean. They played a dynamic role in the social formation of early Spanish colonial society in the fortified port cities of Cartagena de Indias, Havana, Santo Domingo, and Panama City and their semi-rural hinterlands.

Congratulations to the finalists! The winner will be chosen by a Selection Committee in October.