Diaries of nineteenth-century plantation managers are rare; diaries of French sugar planters are rarer still. Although such works as the diaries of Ella Gertrude Thomas and James Henry Hammond provide insight into the plantation societies of the antebellum South, virtually no contemporary source treats planter-slave relations as extensively, or presents a white planter's views on slave society in as much detail, as do the letters and diary of Pierre Dessalles.
Now Elborg Forster and Robert Forster have translated and edited the most historically and socially significant portions of this unusual work. Previously available only in a four-volume French edition, these materials treat a wide range of topics, including the slave economy, management and socialization of the labor force, the role of free blacks in society, the lives led by the plantation owners, and, significantly, black-white relations before, during, and after emancipation.
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