Washington Signature
[ Search and Navigation ]   [ View Full Site ]

C.V. Starr Center for the


Study of the American Experience

Authors Ned and Constance Sublette Speak at Washington College


Date: November 04, 2015
Former Patrick Henry Fellow returns to campus to celebrate publication of The American Slave Coast, written in Chestertown.

Chestertown, MD - In their new book The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave Breeding Industry, Ned and Constance Sublette expose a little discussed part of American history and one of the uglier sides of the business of slavery: the slave-breeding industry.  The Sublettes will present their work at Washington College on Wednesday, November 4 in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the program is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow.

The husband-and-wife team began working on The American Slave Coast during Ned’s yearlong position as the Patrick Henry Fellow at Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience in 2010-2011. “That fellowship was an absolutely transformative experience for us,” says Ned. “The Starr Center has been the laboratory for some of the most dynamic work being done about the history of the early republic.”

Kirkus Reviews praises The American Slave Coast as “a massive story of impressive research.” As the Sublettes’ work makes clear, the 1808 prohibition of the African slave trade—an act that was not necessarily a humanitarian one—served to increase the domestic slave trade and marked dramatic changes in the slave industry. Enslaved people were not only laborers, but merchandise and collateral: “breeding women’s” children and their children’s children were used as human savings accounts that functioned as the basis of money and credit.  The lucrative slave industry made some men very rich and fueled the expansion of the young nation.

A historian, writer, singer-songwriter, and musicologist, Ned Sublette is the author of The Year Before the Flood, The World That Made New Orleans, and Cuba and Its Music. He has also been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Tulane Rockefeller Humanities Fellow, a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow. Constance Sublette has published, as Constance Ash, three novels and edited the science fiction anthology Not of Woman Born. Her interest in biography influenced the way historical figures appear in The American Slave Coast. She has a Master of Information and Library Science degree from Pratt Institute. For both Sublettes, slavery and the African diaspora have been central to their work for the past fifteen years.

This program is cosponsored by Washington College’s Department of History and the American Studies Program, and the Charles Sumner Post of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.).


Launched by the Starr Center in 2008, the Patrick Henry Fellowship aims to encourage reflection on the links between American history and contemporary culture, and to foster the literary art of historical writing. It is co-sponsored by the Rose O’Neill Literary House, Washington College’s center for literature and the literary arts. The Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship’s funding is permanently endowed by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, with further support provided by the Starr Foundation, the Hodson Trust, and other donors. 

Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Based in the Custom House along the colonial waterfront, the College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience fosters the art of written history and explores our nation’s past in innovative ways, through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach. For more information, visit http://washcoll.edu/starrcenter

Last modified on Oct. 28th, 2015 at 8:56am by Michael Buckley.