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Gulf Coast Slave Smuggling: The Clandestine Slave Trade, circa 1830s-1850s

April 16, 2012 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Portrait image of Lee Willis outdoors with fall leaves behind him wearing a blue shirt and brown jacket

Monday Seminar:

Lee Willis

UW System Fellow (2011-2012)

History, UW-Stevens Point


In 1808, Congress forbade the importation of foreign slaves into the United States and the interstate (or domestic) slave trade became the only legal method of buying and selling human chattel before the Civil War. Yet historians believe that traders continually violated the international ban in a clandestine slave trade. Conservative estimates hold that smugglers introduced approximately 54,000 enslaved people into the United States, roughly 1,000 people per year, between 1808 and 1865. Though the interstate slave trade has been researched extensively and deservedly so, the details of the U.S. clandestine slave trade are largely unknown. This presentation will explore several failed slaving expeditions in the Gulf of Mexico as a means to understand the international conspiracies behind these ventures as well as how the trade changed over time.


Lee Willis, UW System Fellow, is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point. His research interests include the Atlantic Slave Trade and the African Diaspora as well as race and reform in the American South. His first book, Southern Prohibition: Race, Reform, and Public Life in Middle Florida, 1821-1920 will be published by the University of Georgia Press in October 2011. Willis earned a B.A. in History from the University of the South and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Florida State University.


April 16, 2012
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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University Club, Room 212
432 East Campus Mall
Madison, Wisconsin 53703 United States