Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Newfont


This work examines the development and collapse of the slave trade in Kentucky. It pushes readers to think about the slave trade in an environmental context. The development of the slave trade in the state depended on the violent acquisition of Indigenous lands. The networks of credit and capital that settler colonists established—wealth concentrated in land, stock, crops, and people—fueled the development of a slave system west of the southern mountains. That system increasingly relied on the forced movement of enslaved people in and through Kentucky. The state’s legal system and other institutions worked to support slave trading companies especially at the height of the trade in the 1850s. The people caught in the middle of these trading machines resisted their enslavement in many ways including deploying their knowledge of the natural world and participating in the legal system. The trading companies that operated in Kentucky as late as the 1860s continued to hold wealth in natural resources such as land, stock, and crops—in addition to captive humans—and worked hard to protect their interests as the trade collapsed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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