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Jubilee's Experiment
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Book description

Dexter J. Gabriel's Jubilee's Experiment is a thorough examination of how the emancipated British Caribbean colonies entered into the debates over abolition and African American citizenship in the US from the 1830s through the 1860s. It analyzes this public discourse, created by black and white abolitionists, and African Americans more generally in antebellum America, as both propaganda and rhetoric. Simultaneously, Gabriel interweaves the lived experiences of former slaves in the West Indies – their daily acts of resistance and struggles for greater freedoms – to further augment but complicate this debate. An important and timely intervention, Jubilee's Experiment argues that the measured success of former slaves in the West Indies became a crucial focal point in the struggle against slavery in antebellum North America.


‘Dexter Gabriel masterfully transports readers into an abolitionist landscape where people of African descent agitated for Black liberation and resisted white control. Jubilee’s Experiment brilliantly uncovers how the project of emancipation was a human enterprise with profound implications propelled by individual actors and actions as much as by ideological debates.’

Michael Dickinson - author of Almost Dead: Slavery and Social Rebirth in the Black Urban Atlantic

‘Jubilee’s Experiment offers a compelling portrait of the progress up to and after emancipation in the West Indies and its effects on abolitionism in the United States. Dexter Gabriel thoughtfully mines the complexities of the debate in both places, while highlighting emancipated Black people's struggles to build new lives in white dominated worlds.’

Natasha J. Lightfoot - author of Troubling Freedom: Antigua and the Aftermath of British Emancipation

‘Jubilee’s Experiment probes the multi-layered problems, debates, and processes of freedom in the British Caribbean through the experiences and voices of freed people. It shows the manner in which the ‘experiment of freedom’ transverses the Atlantic and enters the debates of freedom in the antebellum United States. Beautifully researched, this book contributes significantly to Atlantic history.’

Katrina Thompson Moore - author of Ring Shout, Wheel About: The Racial Politics of Music and Dance in North American Slavery

‘With impressive spatial scope and original methodological approaches, Dexter Gabriel reframes the narrative of Anglo-Atlantic antislavery beyond connections between metropoles and makes a compelling case for the pivotal nature of these debates during this incendiary transatlantic moment. All students of British colonial abolition, debates over slavery in the US, and post-emancipation societies should read.’

Jeffrey Kerr-Ritchie - author of Rites of August First: Emancipation Day in the Black Atlantic World

‘Jubilee’s Experiment is a marvellous study. Dexter Gabriel shows that the resistance of Black Caribbeans to the half-way measures of Britain’s abolition of slavery had a profound impact upon the assumptions and demands of American abolitionists. This is Atlantic history at its best.’

Edward Rugemer - author of The Problem of Emancipation: The Caribbean Roots of the American Civil War

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