A Weary Land
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A Weary Land

Slavery on the Ground in Arkansas

Title Details

Pages: 284

Illustrations: 5 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 08/15/2022

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6368-4

List Price: $36.95


Pub Date: 03/31/2021

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6020-1

List Price: $62.95


Pub Date: 03/31/2021

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6019-5

List Price: $36.95


Pub Date: 03/31/2021

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6821-4

List Price: $36.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

A Weary Land

Slavery on the Ground in Arkansas

A spatial analysis of slavery in Arkansas

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

In the first book-length study of Arkansas slavery in more than sixty years, A Weary Land offers a glimpse of enslaved life on the South’s western margins, focusing on the intersections of land use and agriculture within the daily life and work of bonded Black Arkansans. As they cleared trees, cultivated crops, and tended livestock on the southern frontier, Arkansas’s enslaved farmers connected culture and nature, creating their own meanings of space, place, and freedom.

Kelly Houston Jones analyzes how the arrival of enslaved men and women as an imprisoned workforce changed the meaning of Arkansas’s acreage, while their labor transformed its landscape. They made the most of their surroundings despite the brutality and increasing labor demands of the “second slavery”—the increasingly harsh phase of American chattel bondage fueled by cotton cultivation in the Old Southwest. Jones contends that enslaved Arkansans were able to repurpose their experiences with agricultural labor, rural life, and the natural world to craft a sense of freedom rooted in the ability to own land, the power to control their own movement, and the right to use the landscape as they saw fit.

A Weary Land . . . is the first book-length study of Arkansas slavery in more than six decades. It's a fascinating read for those who want to fully understand Arkansas history before the Civil War.

—Rex Nelson, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

A Weary Land is a stellar contribution to the historiography of the enslaved. Its nuanced approach foregrounds Arkansas’s particular handling of the institution of slavery before it ever became a state. Yet it also humanizes the enslaved as they undermined the conditions under which they lived and labored for their own purposes. Overturning a long-reigning account of slavery in Arkansas, A Weary Land is a welcome must-read not only for Arkansans but for all historians of the slave South.

—Cherisse Jones-Branch, Missouri Historical Review

Through its spatial analysis and organization of such an extensive collection of records, the success of A Weary Land is its effective articulation of how enslaved people in Arkansas were part of a broader tradition of self-determination and resistance that was not only upheld by enslaved communities across the U.S. South, but was, in fact, a hemispheric tradition.

—Kathryn Gordon, Slavery & Abolition

Jones's book is a fascinating study of one state that allows for an indepth understanding of the multiplicities of slavery and the development of racial capitalism in the expanding South. Well written and concisely argued, the book should be a welcome addition to the historiography of slavery and bookshelves everywhere.

—Christian Pinnen, The Journal of the Civil War Era


John William Graves Book Award, Arkansas Historical Association

About the Author/Editor

KELLY HOUSTON JONES is an associate professor of history at Arkansas Tech University. Her research focuses on American slavery, particularly in the trans-Mississippi South. Her work has appeared in edited volumes such as The Elaine Massacre and Arkansas: A Century of Atrocity and Resistance, Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times, and Bullets and Fire: Lynching and Authority in Arkansas from Slavery through the 1930s.