Current Monograph Project

By Way of Jenkins’s Ear: Familial Narratives of Black and White in the Early U.S. South

Elizabeth J. West


From 1739- 1748 the centuries long conflict between Britain and Spain over disputed territory in present day Florida and Georgia heightened into what became known as The War of Jenkins’s Ear. This land based dispute spilled over into the high seas as both sides seized opposing ships across the Atlantic. In the case of one Heinrich Sistrunk, emigrating from his Swiss-German home in 1743, the conflict resulted in a two year involuntary stopover in Cuba before he would be delivered out of prison in Havana to freedom in South Carolina in 1746.


In this histobiographical study I examine the borderlessness of the plantocracy of the Americas, and how this inter-colonial system dictated generational fortunes of contrasting extremes for Heinrich’s heirs and the descendants of one of the many blacks recorded in the Sistrunks’ slave ledgers.

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