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Kidnapped at Sea

The Civil War Voyage of David Henry White

Andrew Sillen

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The true story of David Henry White, a free Black teenage sailor enslaved on the high seas during the Civil War, whose life was falsely and intentionally appropriated to advance the Lost Cause trope of a contented slave, happy and safe in servility.

David Henry White, a free Black teenage sailor from Lewes, Delaware, was kidnapped by Captain Raphael Semmes of the Confederate raider Alabama on October 9, 1862, from the Philadelphia-based packet ship Tonawanda. White remained captive on the Alabama for over 600 days, until he drowned during the Battle of Cherbourg on June 19, 1864.

In a...

The true story of David Henry White, a free Black teenage sailor enslaved on the high seas during the Civil War, whose life was falsely and intentionally appropriated to advance the Lost Cause trope of a contented slave, happy and safe in servility.

David Henry White, a free Black teenage sailor from Lewes, Delaware, was kidnapped by Captain Raphael Semmes of the Confederate raider Alabama on October 9, 1862, from the Philadelphia-based packet ship Tonawanda. White remained captive on the Alabama for over 600 days, until he drowned during the Battle of Cherbourg on June 19, 1864.

In a bestselling postwar memoir, Semmes falsely described White as a contented slave who remained loyal to the Confederacy. In Kidnapped at Sea, archaeologist Andrew Sillen uses a forensic approach to describe White's enslavement and demise and illustrates how White's actual life belies the Lost Cause narrative his captors sought to construct.

Kidnapped at Sea is the first book to focus on White's actual life, rather than relying on Semmes and other secondary sources. Until now, Semmes's appropriation of White's life has escaped scrutiny, thereby demonstrating the challenges faced by disempowered, illiterate people—and how well-crafted, racist fabrications have become part of Civil War memory.

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Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
384
ISBN
9781421449517
Illustration Description
1 b&w photo, 34 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Author's Note
Preface
Book I: Context
1. David Henry White and the False Cause
2. Time and Place
3. Childhood in Lewes
4. Passenger Cook
5. Manifest Destiny
6. Gulf of Mexico
7. Secession
8. The Alabama
9

Author's Note
Preface
Book I: Context
1. David Henry White and the False Cause
2. Time and Place
3. Childhood in Lewes
4. Passenger Cook
5. Manifest Destiny
6. Gulf of Mexico
7. Secession
8. The Alabama
9. Prelude
Book II: Voyage
10. Capture
11. Storms
12. Report
13. Mutiny
14. South to Galveston
15. Port Royal, Olive Jane and John A. Parks
16. Brazil and the South Atlantic
17. Cape of Good Hope
18. Simon's Town
19. The Indian Ocean
20. The Looming Battle
21. The Battle of Cherbourg
22. Demise
Book III: Analysis
23. Accounts
24. An Ocean of Lies
25. Aide toi et dieu t'aidera
Acknowledgements
Notes
Bibiliography

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Andrew Sillen

Andrew Sillen is a visiting research scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. He was formerly a professor of paleoanthropology and the founding director of development at the University of Cape Town and the vice president of institutional advancement at Brooklyn College.