Chestertown, MD — Brett Rushforth, Assistant Professor of History at the College of William & Mary, will present "Marie-Marguerite's Journey: The Life and Lessons of an Indian Slave in the French Atlantic World" at Washington College's Litrenta Lecture Hall on Thursday, April 2, at 7 p.m.
Slavery in the context of colonial America most readily conjures grim imagery of ships laden with human chattel, of Africans in chains transported to the New World. But another woeful saga of enslavement unfolded in concert with the West African diaspora: from New France to the southern English colonies, Native American slavery flourished.
The compelling story of one such slave serves to illustrate the broader social condition: Marie-Marguerite, as she would come to be known, was captured by a rival tribe and knew slave status as a child before ever setting eyes on a French settler. The forced journey that was her life—from the Mississippi Valley to Michilimackinac, from Fort Detroit to Montreal, to Quebec and beyond—was a journey across the clash of cultures and the faultline of disparate repressions: Indian slavery, European slavery and the hybrid slavery forms that emerged therefrom.
At William & Mary, Brett Rushforth teaches courses on the history of early America, American Indians, and comparative race and slavery. His research focuses on cultural, diplomatic and commercial relationships between Europeans and the Native peoples of the Atlantic world.
His first book, co-edited with his colleague Paul Mapp, is Colonial North America and the Atlantic World: A History in Documents (Pearson/Prentice-Hall, 2008). He is currently finishing revisions on a second book, Savage Bonds: Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France, which explores the enslavement of American Indians by French colonists and their Native allies. It will be published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. He is also at work, with Christopher Hodson, on a study of the early modern French Atlantic. Under contract with Basic Books, its working title is Discovering Empire: France and the Atlantic World from the Age of Columbus to the Rise of Napoleon.
Dr. Rushforth's Washington College lecture is presented by Phi Alpha Theta, the Department of History, the Department of Art and Art History, and the Theta of Maryland Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
Litrenta Lecture Hall is located in the John S. Toll Science Center. Admission to "Marie-Marguerite's Journey: The Life and Lessons of an Indian Slave in the French Atlantic World" is free and open to the public.