Vincent Brown discusses his new book, ‘Tacky’s Revolt’
Vincent Brown welcome to meet the rices. Slavery is war. Tell me what that means. Well. In the book. I tend to think of slavery itself as a state of war, and in that I'm following the enslaved themselves who often discuss slavery as a state of warfare amongst themselves, most famously allowed Equiano who we know as one of the most famous formerly enslaved abolitionists of the late eighteenth century British Atlantic. said in his autobiography that when you make people slaves. Them to live with you in a state of war. Now in that he was echoing the philosopher John Locke. Who said that what is slavery? But the state of war continued between what he thought was a lawful conqueror and the concord now John Locke was trying to legitimate slavery. He was an investor in the Royal African company, and he actually helped to write the constitution for the colony of south. Carolina, which became a slave state. State, but equiano was doing something a little bit different than John Locke. He was actually commenting upon the conditions of slavery, the violence that was required to maintain people in slavery and the kind of response that was bound to come by those people who had been subjected so violently so for him, slavery was a state of war, and there were other enslaved people who echoed. Seeing slavery that way helped me frame the slave revolt in Jamaica. In seventeen, sixty, seven, sixty, one, which was the largest in the eighteenth century, British Empire as a war itself right as one of a series of wars, all around the Atlantic world that then ed up in this conflict in seventeen sixty Jamaica I'd like to look at your own life, and where that intersects with war, because you grew up in San Diego, and in fact, it was very early on that. You became aware of conflicts. I did well. I'm an American citizen. I grew up in the United States. I was born in the late sixties at the height of the Vietnam War and I I'm sorry to say that I can't name a five year period when the US military hasn't been abroad somewhere engaged in conflict with somebody over the course of my entire life, which seems to me like a half century of war having. Having grown up in San Diego I grew up in one of the largest terry garrison towns really in the history of the world the US Navy is as a major base in San Diego. The US Marines just north of San Diego have a major base and so coming through high school. A lot of my friends would join the military because it was the big industry in town, right. And of course, you know, my family had been had served in the army. My father served in the army. My Uncle A. Brother had done three combat tours I. Believe one in Korea and two in Vietnam, so the history of the military, the engagement overseas abroad in military campaigns was very much a part of my thinking growing up, and so when I thought about the history of slavery. It just jumped out at me that this history was itself a history that was embroiled embedded in a world of warfare, especially in the eighteenth century win. You have got Great Britain struggling in a century long campaign against its its greatest global enemy France, and all of those European wars then topped onto. The wars of enslavement that sent people out across the Atlantic into the European colonies in America, and what you have is a world of wars within wars, which looked very familiar to me like the campaigns at the US was fighting within the larger ambit- of the Cold War so by the time I grew to adulthood in the late eighty S. I was seeing these these late cold war campaigns in these post colonial states as as part of the larger Cold War, and then you see these proxy wars between the US and the Soviet Union fought out in places like Afghanistan right, and then of course by two thousand one, you see those kind of proxy campaigns between the US and Soviet Union growing into something else what we now call the terror wars, the war on. On Terror in Afghanistan and elsewhere I didn't see those things as continuous. I didn't see the terror war something uniquely different from most proxy wars of the late. Cold War period and my thinking historically has been to ask the question. How is it that one connects these longer histories of warfare together? And I do think that I was inspired to think that partly by having grown up in San Diego in a military town. And what about your, your family's personal history with war and with slavery? Well an african-american! My parents grew up in Virginia, and so they are descended from people who are enslaved probably as far back as the eighteenth century the Chesapeake Bay area. What's now? Virginia and Maryland was one of the largest importers of slaves in North America now I say north. America because the British empire imported the vast majority of its enslaved peoples into the Caribbean but for North America the territories that became the United States, the Chesapeake and South Carolina with a major importers of enslaved African peoples, and my family is descended from. Those people probably brought to North America in the eighteenth century. History was big in your life obviously, but also the arch. Yeah well. When I was in high school I I became very involved in theater and went to college thinking that I was actually going to do a theater degree. But at some point I thought well, you know I could probably do theater without a theater degree, but maybe I should have a backup plan and my second love in college was history, and that ended up being my career.