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Bejamin Madley Publishes New Essay 'California Unbound'
August 21, 2023

Benjamin Madley has published the essay "California Unbound: Rethinking the 'End' of Unfree Labor in the Pacific World and Beyond" with Amherst College Professor Edward D. Melillo in California History. An enduring focus on African American chattel slavery, the U.S. Civil War, and sharecropping in the South has failed to collectively address the varieties of unfree labor and their abolitions in the trans-Mississippi western United States. By exploring systems of servitude and their termination in California and the wider Pacific World, this essay reframes the Age of Abolition. It describes the rise and fall of labor regimes that bound California Indians, African Americans, Chileans, and Chinese women. Citing Chinese-, English-, and Spanish-language sources from a variety of archives and libraries, this article expands the chronology, geography, and actors of the Age of Abolition. Finally, it suggests trajectories for rethinking this momentous transition from Pacific World and western U.S. vantage points to suggest the need for a global history of abolition.